Top 5 Elements to Create an Epic Employee Wellbeing Programme

Top 5 Elements to Create an Epic Employee Wellbeing Programme


To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace’ – Doug Conant, former President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company.


When looking to attract the best talent for your business, salary and location will always be the first two fundamental elements considered by any job seeker.  So, being able to place yourself within your sector as an attractive first option for the best talent compared to your competition is high on the recruitment agenda.

Female job seeker being interviewed by panel.

Paying over the market rate is rarely a conducive formula either to business budgets or long-term working relationships. So, aside from location and salary, the next draw for your future talent is your employee benefits and wellbeing package. 

A well rounded and holistic package can not only add extra strings to your desirability bow for potential new employees, but when successfully delivered can reap its rewards in employee loyalty, satisfaction and performance.

According to a recent Aflac report1 around 61% of employees adopted healthier habits because of their employer’s wellbeing initiatives. Healthier and happier employees = increased engagement and productivity.

Think About Your Offering

Let’s think about what your wellbeing package included for your employee’s pre-pandemic.

Perhaps you offered daily lunch time yoga sessions, weekly mindfulness groups or visits from mental health coach to lessen the stigma on struggling.  All of these can be seen as you placing your employee at the center of the equation.  But are these options desirable, accessible and beneficial to all?

Group Yoga class sitting on floor in yoga pose.

Poor Experiences Last

I have personal experience of where a benefits and wellbeing package really turned out to be less than that.  Working for a top fitness and wellbeing brand in London, I was hopeful that the promise of my benefits package would help enhance my health and wellbeing. 

I was really excited to work for this company. The interview and onboarding process advertised an amazing brand to work with and much to learn from. What had been offered and described certainly wasn’t what was delivered.

Instead of being able to take full advantage of the promised gym sessions and services, I found myself working a myriad of complex shift patterns, which gave no consideration to my mental or physical health, added to this the various layers of management conditions meant that the promise of using a state-of-the-art gym was actually unachievable.

Other benefits included a complimentary membership for your friend once you had completed three months service, discounts on healthy food and shakes and an insurance policy that covered treatments. Only they didn’t openly tell employees about it, in case they used it!

Did this leave me feeling valued as an employee – of course not. It felt like I had been mis-sold both a brand and values.  You see, an employee benefits and wellbeing package has to deliver what it promises otherwise it does nothing more than create resentment, animosity and a revolving recruitment process.

Group of unhappy workers with thumbs down.

Over Promising and Under Delivering?

I wasn’t the only employee to feel let down and unappreciated. One colleague shared with me that she had an anxiety attack before coming into work one day, whilst another told me how he was so tired that he could cry.  He had also been promised the opportunity to teach extra classes but the company did not follow through. He had left a great job, better pay and better hours to work at this bigger and better brand which didn’t deliver.

The company did not live up to its values, brand or employee promise. I left after six weeks. I never like to give up or leave a business in a difficult situation, I know what this feels like as a business leader; but it was the worst place I have encountered working.

So, if one of the biggest wellbeing companies in London hasn’t nailed it, are most businesses getting it right?  As we emerge out of the hibernation of lockdown, employee wellbeing needs a radical rethink to adapt to the new working normal.

Top Five Tips to Getting it Right

Here are 5 elements that can make an employee wellbeing programme epic and increase engagement, productivity and retention results.

  • Personalisation

This is very hard to do at scale. Here’s the problem; how do you support members of the team who have different roles, different stresses, different responsibilities and have been in the team for different lengths of time? Everyone has different interests and not everyone is interested in wellbeing, surprising!

The solution needs a personal touch. Bring in an expert who can share personal experience and connect with your employees on a personal level. Their method will be able to encourage individual employees to produce their own results by following a proven path.

  • Experiences

Mental wellness is now the top priority. “Mindwork” is the new term for mental health experiences. This could be various mediation techniques, breathing classes or anything that results in the mind feeling calmer.

Organise new experience for employees, things they haven’t tried or heard of before. Mindwork is very much like exercise. You have to find something that you enjoy so you keep it up. Help your employees to find something that works for them.

Young female in yoga pose meditating on floor.

  • Connection

The workplace will have a different dynamic moving forward. Flexible hours and work from home days will be the norm. I was in a zoom call with The Global Wellness Summit, feedback from various wellness experts is this……  people are seeking a connection. We have lived in isolation for some time and although wellbeing brands rose to the challenge and moved online, the human instinct, that inherent quality that also drives business success, is something that we still need to foster. How can you create connections throughout the whole team?

Challenges are a fun way to get everyone involved, whether it is a 30-day meditation challenge, burning calories for charity or cooking for the whole team, healthy competition and teamwork makes an employee feel rewarded and united.

  • Consistency

Results require discipline, dedication and progression. Look for a wellbeing programme that can provide a journey and a proven method for results. Invest in something that has a start, a middle and end but can be continued once that journey has reached the results you were originally looking for.

  • Less is more

Content overload results in a lack of engagement, no structure and a forgettable experience. Although we can pick and choose and there are no excuses, if it's always there waiting for us, we can put it off. Find an experience that provides urgency, high impact value but is less frequent so it can be looked for to. Get everyone lining up to be part of it.

Wellness is not a one size fits all but there are solutions out there which can support your whole team on an individual level. Any time or money spent on a wellbeing programme should be seen as an investment, it needs to pay itself back within the results it produces.

Mixed group of young happy co-workers in office.

My favourite wellness quote is by the World Health Organisation:

‘Every $ spent on mental health, you get $4 in return.’

These are the results that I aim to achieve when supporting businesses to solve their wellbeing puzzles. Working collaboratively together in designing a well thought out benefits package can support your business and employees both in this transitional phase, but also as a much longer term to forge both respectful, loyal and deep-rooted relationships.


Want to keep learning? Find out more abou the author, Megan River, Founder of Breath Practice



1. Aflec Report 2020-21 Workplace Benefits Trends