Fostering employee well-being is good for people and their employers. Promoting well-being can prevent problems from escalating and help create positive working environments where individuals and organisations can thrive. It can be a core enabler of employee engagement and productivity, and there's growing evidence that employee wellness programmes can have a positive impact on key organisational performance indicators.

In this factsheet we focus on well-being in the workplace, explain why it matters, and explore the relationship between work, health and well-being. We investigate the impact of well-being on employee engagement and productivity, unpack the five domains of our well-being model, and look at the role of different stakeholders in cultivating well-being.

Key takeaways

  • Investing in well-being can lead to greater resilience, innovation and productivity.
  • HR professionals are pivotal to steering the health and well-being agenda.
  • Good leadership and management practices are required to successfully implement a well-being strategy.
  • Well-being strategies need to be tailored to the organisation’s unique needs and characteristics.
  • Different stakeholders are responsible for cultivating well-being in different ways.
  • The UK Government has recognised the importance of the workplace in promoting health and well-being.

CIPD viewpoint

Promoting and supporting employee well-being is at the heart of our purpose to champion better work and working lives because an effective workplace well-being programme can deliver mutual benefit to people, businesses, economies and wider society. We believe that work should do more than meet our basic financial needs and contribute to economic growth; it should also improve the quality of our lives by giving us meaning and purpose and contributing to our overall well-being. The fast-changing world of work and the fluctuating demands it places on employers and employees means that our grasp of health and well-being needs can never stand still. It needs to evolve constantly to mitigate and optimise the impact on people’s health and well-being. When people are happy and well, businesses thrive and societies flourish.

Watch our video on why well-being matters

In an interview with the CIPD, Professor Lord Richard Layard of the LSE explains why well-being matters - for individuals and society.

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Still frame of Professor Lord Layard in an interview with the CIPD
Please scroll to the bottom of the factsheet to view the transcript of this video.

This factsheet was last updated by Rachel Suff.

Rachel Suff

Rachel Suff: Employee Relations Adviser

Rachel joined the CIPD as a policy adviser in 2014 to increase the CIPD’s public policy profile and engage with politicians, civil servants, policy-makers and commentators to champion better work and working lives. An important part of her role is to ensure that the views of the profession inform CIPD policy thinking in ER areas such as health and well-being, employee engagement and employment relations.

As well as developing policy on UK employment issues, she helps guide the CIPD’s thinking in relation to European developments affecting the world of work. Rachel is a qualified HR practitioner and researcher; her prior roles include working as a researcher/editor for XpertHR and as a senior policy adviser at Acas.

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Transcript: Professor Lord Layard's interview with the CIPD

Well, it's what Iife is all about, isn’t it? I believe that the way we should judge our society is by out how much people are enjoying their lives. And that applies just as much of workers in the rest of life.

So I think well-being is an issue for individuals but it's also a business issue. For individuals, we know a lot about how they feel about their life at work and it's not terribly good news. The new science of happiness has led to people to study how people experience, say, the previous day of their lives, so they may write down what they were doing, who they were with, and how they felt, and the depressing story is – this comes from a large number of surveys now – the time of day that people most disliked is the time which they spend with their boss.

This is a pretty serious situation. I would say that managers are not doing a great job and-and-and-and in our modern society in terms of promoting the well-being of their people and are not obviously inspiring them. There’s an element of fear and so on associated with work which may not be functional. For the following reason: look at it from the point of view of the business. We can follow the stock price of companies according to how good they are places to work, so if you take the 100 best places to work in 1985 in the United States and compare them with the rest of the stock market, you will find that the stock price of the 100 best places to work over the following 25 years rose by fifty percent, compared with the rest of the American companies.

So it pays off, it's good for the bottom line, and it’s good for the workers, so that has got to be a serious priority for business.