What is employee wellbeing? 

A person’s wellbeing encompasses more than just their physical health. Wellbeing is multi-faceted, encompassing a person’s physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial wellness. Employee wellbeing refers to the state of being healthy, happy and fulfilled in one’s work. As companies increasingly pay attention to their employees’ holistic wellbeing, employee wellbeing can be considered to include people’s personal lives – outside of work and Monday to Friday, from “9 to 5”.  


Here is more about each facet of employee wellbeing:  

  • Physical wellbeing
    Employees’ physical health focuses on their bodily wellness. This includes protecting against illness, proactively partaking in lifestyle choices that will protect them against lifestyle and age-related diseases – including, partaking in regular physical exercise, ensuring healthy sleep patterns and consuming a healthy diet. It also entails being mindful in maintaining energy levels. An employee’s physical health can be dramatically affected by the size of their workload and the quality of their work environment.  
  • Mental wellbeing 
    Mental wellness should be seen as more than the absence of mental illness. It represents healthy functioning psychologically, emotionally and socially. Coping well in stressful situations can be seen as a facet of mental wellness. So can a person’s ability to have positive relationships with other people or being aware and self-accepting of one’s strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Emotional wellbeing
    According to an article published in Medical News Today in January 2024, emotional health refers to how a person thinks and feels.  “The ability to acknowledge and cope with both positive and negative emotions is a sign of good emotional health…It can also affect how well individuals are able to handle stressful situations and challenges, how they adapt to change, and how they respond to difficult life events. Emotional well-being can affect relationships, work, and overall mental and physical health.”
  • Social wellbeing
    Social wellness refers to the relationships people have and how they interact with each other. An employee’s social wellbeing encompasses their sense of belonging and connection in the workplace (even if it is remote) as well as their positive relationships with colleagues, managers and their work community. Feeling supported and valued by an employer and one’s peers can positively contribute to a sense of social wellbeing. 
  • Financial wellbeing
    Financial wellbeing entails the degree to which a person’s financial situation and money management provides them with security and freedom of choice. The provision of financial planning education and coaching are becoming more common among employers particularly as more than having a negative effect on overall health, employee financial wellness can have a direct impact on their engagement and productivity.  

Even micro businesses can support employee wellbeing

Supporting holistic employee wellness does not necessarily require a large financial investment or the establishment of extensive initiatives or programmes. Small, intentional efforts can effectively be the start of supporting employee wellbeing.  

Here are 5 simple, actionable strategies that can get you started on the road to supporting employee wellbeing:  

  1. Offer flexible work arrangements − Several studies have found that giving workers greater choice or control over their work schedule improves their mental health. So does improving the set structure of their schedule so that employees can successfully plan and weave their personal commitments into their work schedule.
  2. Control the size of employees’ workloads − Continually high work demands such as long, tight deadlines or the need to continually work fast, can take a substantial toll on employee wellness. There are numerous studies that conclude that high work demands coupled with a feeling of low control can lead to an increase in employee health risks, which include depression, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. 
  3. Keep two-way communication channels open − From the top of the company, downward, encouraging and modelling open communication is an excellent way to ensure that no employee is bottling up their emotions or is too afraid or ashamed to ask for support. As a leader, take stock of how you and your team are currently communicating and plan how you could improve on sharing information with your team on an ongoing basis. 
  4. Give recognition and rewards − Scientific study of the effects of recognition has revealed that being recognised produces an Oxytocin release in the body. It has been found that this Oxytocin release can strengthen bonds of trust between both parties – so that the relationship bond strengthens for both the giver and the receiver of the recognition. In this way, recognition can lead to stronger relationships and feelings of trust, which lead to a happier working environment. 
  5. Provide professional development opportunities − Investing in employees’ skills and career growth creates a sense of purpose and accomplishment within employees. By providing training programmes that skill and upskill employees, along with mentorship opportunities, and other avenues for skill development, a culture of continuous learning can be fostered with the business. In addition, personal and professional development programmes can also increase job satisfaction and engagement, contributing to employee wellbeing.  


In an extensive study produced by the Workforce Institute1 in 2023, where 3400 people across 10 countries were surveyed, it was found that managers play a vital role in supporting employees’ wellbeing – particularly their mental health – in and outside of work. A manager may well be the first person an employee turns to when they are in trouble. This research makes it clear that, one way or another, many employees suffer in silence. Business owners and leaders have a duty of care and should step up to provide support and care for employees and for their managers, too.  


Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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