Employers, office managers, and team leaders all have a responsibility for the wellbeing of their workforce, from in-house full-timers to remote contractors. We’ve identified the leading factors that may impact on employee wellbeing, and added some practical suggestions to consider.

What are the workplace factors that may impact on wellbeing?

How we work has changed dramatically over recent decades, with technology and hybrid working just two of the many factors transforming what work looks like for the modern employee.

For many people, this means a blurring of the barriers between work and home life, with work stress impacting on personal health and wellness. It’s therefore crucial that employers understand the factors that may impact on wellbeing, and put measures in place to support physical and emotional wellness across the workforce.

Employee wellbeing across different styles of work

The type of work people do can significantly influence wellbeing. Physical stress, mental stress, access to exercise and sunlight, and musculoskeletal injury risk factors can be impacted by the type of work a person does.

Physical work often places more demand on the body and may include strenuous activity which puts the worker at risk of accident, injury, or workplace ill-health due to musculoskeletal issues. On the other hand, some physical roles may mean the employee is getting more exercise and more exposure to fresh air and sunlight than their office-bound colleagues.

Office-based employees are likely to be more sedentary, spending longer at their desks and behind screens. This carries its own risk factors, primarily RSI and lack of activity (the latter being associated with higher risk of obesity and pre-diabetes).

Employers should be aware of the unique risk factors relating to every employee’s daily tasks, and offer the necessary support to reduce risks and increase wellbeing. This will include ergonomic workplace assessments and set ups, and proper training on physical movements.

How work patterns may influence wellbeing at work

Not many people work a standard 9-5 job these days. An employer’s workforce is likely to include shift workers, hybrid workers, those who work from home, and people who request irregular hours. Each of these work patterns may have an impact on wellbeing at work.

Long work hours (especially when coupled with porous work/life boundaries) can lead to high levels of stress and lack of sufficient sleep. Over time, high stress and low sleep can increase the risks of physical health issues (including stroke and heart disease) and mental ill-health.

Does shift work impact employee wellbeing?

Shift workers face unique challenges to wellbeing, due to irregular work patterns, interrupted sleep schedules, and less access to daylight hours – especially in winter months.

Employers should work hard to understand the impact of all different work patterns, and encourage employees to get enough rest and downtime. This can be done by putting boundaries in place around working and messaging outside of work hours, and by implementing supportive strategies for managing workload. Your employee benefits could even include wellness champions, and education resources around stress and sleep.

Shift work disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm, potentially leading to sleep disturbances, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to health issues such as cardiovascular diseases and digestive disorders. Employers should prioritize employee wellbeing by providing adequate rest periods between shifts, offering support for managing sleep patterns, and considering alternative shift rotation schedules.

Employee wellbeing in office based, hybrid, and remote working

While remote working offers flexibility, it can also leave employees feeling isolated and lacking in support compared to office-based colleagues. It may also present challenges in separating work from personal life. Employers must continue to adapt policies and resources to support employees working from home. This may mean providing flexible fitness benefits (so remote workers can access gyms in their own location), overseeing ergonomic home office setups, and offering wellbeing resources tailored to hybrid or WFH staff.

Can in-house team structures impact employee wellbeing?

Nobody will be surprised to read that leadership styles and team dynamics can significantly impact employee wellbeing. A supportive team with great leadership reduces stress, encourages healthy habits, and improves overall wellbeing.

Employers should invest to ensure their workplace wellness policies extend to C-Suite leadership, team managers, and all levels of staffing. Wellness champions in the workplace can be a great way to lead by example and develop a wellness culture in real time rather than simply on paper.

Creating a healthy workplace culture to encourage wellbeing

Your company culture is likely to encompass all of the workplace factors that may impact on wellbeing, and it’s important that employers create a culture that encourages and celebrates healthy decisions. This might include wellness policies, an open-door approach to leadership, health and fitness challenges, access to healthy foods, opportunities for regular activity and fresh air, and fitness as an employee benefit.

Employee benefits to support better wellbeing

There is a strong link between employee benefits and workplace culture, particularly with health and wellness. Your choice of employee wellbeing benefit can have a huge influence on the physical and mental wellbeing of your workforce – both in work and at home.

Be sure to choose fitness benefits that are useful to all employees, whether they work in-house, hybrid, from home, or travel regularly. Discounted gym membership as a benefit should be flexible, allowing people the opportunity to choose gyms and fitness centres to suit their hours and location.

Employee wellbeing is the responsibility of both employer and employee, but it’s important that organisations set up an environment and culture that makes healthier decisions easier. Consider the workplace factors that may impact on wellbeing so your workforce can make ongoing healthy habits that benefit their physical and mental wellness.