Employers need to get serious about mental health and wellbeing – and this requires a strategic approach to workplace wellbeing!

Why bother – surely strategy is unnecessary extra work and a few wellbeing activities will do the trick?

Those who lead companies may think that they are already doing their bit in supporting employee mental health and wellbeing. But for employees – and line managers – that is not the reality – their experience is that those at the top of their company do not focus enough about employee wellbeing (BITC 2017)!

So something is wrong. That “something” is a strategic approach to the cultural issues found with workplace wellbeing.

Examples of what makes workplace wellbeing a cultural issue:

  • Employees coming into work when they are unwell
  • Pressure to work long hours and be constantly available
  • People scared to reveal wellbeing issues – more than almost any other diversity issues
  • Many of those who do disclose mental health challenges end up being disciplined and lose their jobs
  • Most managers have not had any mental health training
  • Most managers don’t have any support themselves when dealing with staff mental health issues
  • Employee engagement and motivation is low
  • Staff turnover is high

These are all cultural issues. They can only be properly addressed through creating and implementing a strategic approach. Otherwise it’s just like putting a tiny sticking plaster on a broken leg!

Those companies which have really transformed workplace wellbeing have done so through having an engaged leadership and Board. They realise that employee wellbeing is intrinsically connected to both the values and success of their business.

One way of doing this is to have a Health and Wellbeing Lead on the Board. However few Boards have a Health and Wellbeing Lead in order to ensure it is both high profile and linked to overall business strategy. Whilst this continues little will change, employee engagement will remain low, turnover high and performance mediocre.

By having a Strategic Approach to Wellbeing you show your Employees:

  1. That Wellbeing is driven from the top – just like business and organisational strategy is driven from the top.
  2. And that it isn’t just a series of interventions which are currently flavour of the month (but won’t be here next month or next year!).
  3. That you care about their wellbeing and choose to do something about it.
  4. That within the Boardroom employee wellbeing is a priority that is aligned with other goals within the business.
  5. That there is a nominated Health and Wellbeing Lead at Board Level who will ensure the strategy is pushed forward.
  6. That your strategy is 2 pronged – and focused on ensuring the majority of staff can thrive as well as the specific needs of those who may have wellbeing challenges.
  7. That because Wellbeing is a boardroom priority it is allocated its own identified budget – as opposed to taking bits and pieces from different budgets.

So what does this mean in reality?

All Workplace Wellbeing Strategic approaches include a core element despite the different needs or requirements of their organisations.

  • Having a Health and Wellbeing Lead at Board Level.
  • Collecting, Monitoring and Reporting of data in order to make action plans.
  • Policies that are created with the Board, managers and communicated to all employees.
  • A focus on effective people management, in how to destigmatise stress and Mental Health as weakness
  • Promoting health and wellbeing on an ongoing process through structured programmes


Those businesses and organisations which have taken workplace wellbeing really seriously understand that wellbeing isn’t about throwing employees some nice benefits! In fact nothing disengages employees more than thinking they are been given a sweetener which no substance!

Instead what works is a sustained approach led from the top, which requires commitment and awareness from leaders and a constant process of planning, implementation and review.

The results can be seen in those companies who are investing in employee wellbeing.

It is this which makes them stand out from their competitors!

The Sweet Potato Consultancy works strategically with forward thinking leaders to reduce people, skills and financial wastage and create workplace cultures where both people and organisations thrive!




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