Well-being at work

We all agree on one point: it is better to work in pleasant conditions than in a physically and psychologically stressful environment. However, more than 40% of employees admit they are in psychological distress. It's urgent to act!

A survey by software firm Oracle has highlighted that nearly 7 out of 10 residents in Singapore found 2021 the most stressful year at work, with more than half struggling more with their mental health at work that year.

When we talk about well-being at work, as in all personal development topics, we can find lots of theories, a plethora of offers, and many  specialists who will present their solution as THE one.

The problem is: there isn't ONE absolute solution that can apply to all businesses.

Free speech at the heart of everything

  1. One thing is certain, the starting point of an approach to well-being at work must always be the freedom to speak.
  1. How can a company pretend to bring well-being to workers if they do not know what that person wants and what is a problem for him or her?
  2. Freedom of speech can, of course, take place at the company level, this is ideal. But this freedom must, above all, take place at the team level.
  3. The more free speech is given at each employee level, the more impactful and effective it will be for the company's efforts in employees well-being. Why?
  4. 1. The need for recognition

When it comes to well-being at work, we talk about a very personal and individual matter. As employees, we need to be seen as individuals.

The need for recognition is one of the first levers of motivation (or demotivation if this need is not taken into account).

Every employee needs feedback. Knowing that what we are doing is good or, on the contrary, could be improved is absolutely fundamental, and unfortunately often forgotten by managers.

My well-being will not result from the same things as for my colleague. So before getting specific attention from my manager, I want to be listened to ... and heard.

Asking your team members what they think about their well-being, what could be changed, what is going well or wrong, doesn't cost much and is essential for their wellbeing.

“Speaking is a need, listening is an art.” Goethe

  1. 2. The specificity of each individual

We clearly saw during lockdowns that living the confinement in 30 square meters with a toddler was very different from living it in a house with a garden; same went for internet access: with a high-performing internet connection or with a line worthy of the speeds of the Middle Ages!

The pandemic highlighted the differentiation between each of us, undermining certain managers who did not know how to manage remotely. Even though a team is a sum of individuals, their well-being is individual.

Admittedly, there are a few common rules like working on a high-performance computer, but beyond those things, it is important to ask each person what is most important to their personal well-being:

  • equipment (desk / chair / lamp / computer / additional screen)
  • freedom of organization in terms of hours
  • freedom in terms of percentage of face-to-face vs virtual meetings and interactions
  • work expectations

Ideally, everything should be dealt with, even if not at the same time.

Freedom of speech therefore makes it possible to deal with the issue of well-being at work in an appropriate manner. Changing someone's computer might be essential for one employee while for another it might be changing the coffee machine. Basic, but essential.

3. Optimisation of the means put in place

To deal with everything at once requires an enormous amount of resources to be mobilized. Asking each manager to take responsibility for the well-being of each member of his team makes it possible to target effective investments directly.

And keep in mind that one person's well-being may have a negative impact on others'.

We are far away from where we should be when it comes to employees' and workers' wellbeing. Quality of Life at Work has only been taken seriously for about ten years in large companies, and only recently globally.

Since the pandemic, investments have to be targeted at individual level.


Freeing up one's voice means daring to ask an employee what would make their daily work more enjoyable, this is neither high-tech nor revolutionary, but it is fundamental to go back to the basics before imagining complex solutions.

One of the major responsibilities of a manager is that his team members feel good, that they progress humanely and professionally.

It starts with this simple question asked to each member of their team: how are you? ... and wait for the answer!

How to implement a wellness program at your workplace

  1. People want to be healthy, but don’t do what they know they need to do. Companies think they are offering great wellness support, but often fail to meet employee needs and expectations.
  2. Here is a framework to help organizations get started. The key is to develop an approach and select a suite of programs that supports the holistic needs of employees in the specific context of your business and your industry.

Every approach should comprise: 

  • a needs assessment and prioritization
  • an action plan and implementation
  • a metrics assessment and review and feedback

Easier said than done? Here are some steps to take before you start:

STEP 1 - Appoint a Well-being Champion or a Well-being Culture Team to lead your health and well-being initiatives and offer them the support of senior management. 

This will give them a sense of ownership and empower them to deliver results.

Ensure that you set clear and measurable objectives.

And if possible try to support them with a budget to start and incentives such as employee offers, rewards and subsidies (if possible).

STEP 2 - Do an internal “needs survey/assessment” to find out what do your employees want and would value what?  

70% of employers believed they provide good access to health and wellness benefits and support, only 23% of employees agreed.

To conduct your survey, you may use free survey solutions (for example Survey Monkey or Google Forms) and ask questions such as:

- What are your personal health goals?

- Do you feel that we [the company] could do more to support you with your physical and mental health? If so, how?

- What areas of your health would you like to work on?

  • Weight management 
  • Fitness 
  • Sleep 
  • Stress and mental health 
  • Smoking cessation and addiction management 
  • Condition management. If so, which one?

- Would you be interested in participating in or using any of the following:

  • In-office massage, guided meditation or breathwork
  • Charity run, family fun days, community initiatives
  • Fruits for the office, subsidized healthy foods
  • On-site health checks, doctors appointments and assessments
  • Standing workstations, under desk pedals
  • On-site health and wellness coaching,...
  • Health assistance helpline or apps?

STEP 3 : Develop program objectives (i.e. what do you want to change or do)

Once you have a solid understanding of employee needs, pinpoint potential barriers and facilitators for meeting them.

Identify each important stakeholder, each specific wellness issue you want to address, and how they relate to the changes you want to make (i.e. objectives). 

Start with making a list of all the important stakeholders.

STEP 4 : Take advantage of  Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

Get your Well-being Champion or Well-being Team to research how Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) can support your wellness initiatives.

To go further:

- tripartite-advisory-on-mental-well-being-at-workplaces

- tripartite-advisory-on-mental-well-being-at-workplaces.pdf

Written by
Flavie Causse Fournial
Wellness , Mindfulness & Leadership Coach