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Jenny Winspear, COO of Anova, discusses how the wrong wellbeing solutions can actually cause harm to a business and explains how to get the most out of a well-planned and measured programme.

Since 2020, Westfield Health report that 75% of organisations now have wellbeing programmes in place, and over a third have increased spend in this area. The market need for better workplace wellbeing since the pandemic has led the world to become flooded with wellbeing services, technologies, talks, apps and campaigns, and businesses are scrambling to get something in place so they can say to their potential and current workforce “we do care about your wellbeing”.


The problem with wellbeing solutions

These well-intentioned solutions though are often doing more damage than good, as businesses are not taking the time to first understand what affects their employee’s wellbeing most in their specific workplace, and therefore are often missing systemic problems. This is damaging because:

  1. It won’t result in the return on investment promised to leaders (Deloitte says for every £1 invested in mental health you can see £5 return). This leads to lower long-term investment and discredits future wellbeing initiatives

  2. It reinforces the idea that wellbeing is ‘fluffy’ as there will be no evidence of the impact on the bottom-line

  3. Services often focus only on the physical, or only on the psychological, rather than taking a holistic view of wellbeing

  4. There is too much focus on the individual. Employees are tired of hearing ‘here is an app to make you more mindful’ or ‘take an hour out of your already busy day to attend this mental health seminar’.

Often, the ‘workplace wellbeing solution’ then causes the workforce to become even more frustrated with ‘wellbeing’ because it is another thing to add to their to-do list and isn’t actually addressing the demands of the job.


“At its worst, providing mental health benefits without looking at systemic issues can be like rubbing salt in a wound.” – James Routledge, Author of Mental Health at Work.


Wellbeing risk factors

It is time to think about ‘wellbeing risk factors’; by this, I mean there are specific, unique things within each business that increase the risk of poor wellbeing and burnout. It is important to identify the unique wellbeing risk factors that exist within a business as they help to inform the approach to wellbeing that is bespoke to almost everybusiness. For example:


  • Improving the relationship between an employee and their manager will do much more for an individual’s wellbeing than providing a fruit bowl

  • Offering flexible working in an office that is required to work long hours will have greater benefits then putting on a resilience seminar

  • Identifying a toxic culture and putting a plan in place to improve it will positively impact the workforce much more than offering an app that provides individual wellbeing support


There are a number of ways to find out what these unique wellbeing risk factors are, and they all involve speaking to the workforce. Host a leader’s workshop to identify some of the demands of the job. Run some focus groups with a representative group of employees to get their feedback. Send out a meaningful survey and collect data on wellbeing areas to inform the best approach. Once you have explored how the demands of the business affect your workforce wellbeing, you can put something in place that might be more targeted. 


Key takeaway

If retaining your staff, improving wellbeing, and actually generating a ROI for wellbeing spend is the aim, you must first understand the wellbeing risk factors of the business so that you can put the right resources in place.


The only way to do this is to listen to what your employees have to say, ask them what they think they need and what is impacting their wellbeing most, then put in place solutions that address those risk factors.


If you have not taken this approach within your business, it likely explains why your workplace wellbeing solution is not working.



Anova is a Software as a Service (SaaS) based on listening to the employee voice through feedback and survey data, creating an accountable view of wellbeing. It highlights wellbeing risk factors and areas of strength, providing tailored recommendations to inform good wellbeing practice and links to bottom-line measurement. Get in touch with Jenny jenny.winspear@myanova.com 

Do you know why your workplace wellbeing solution is not working?

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Do you know why your workplace wellbeing solution is not working?