Is your business guilty of wellbeing washing?

Written by Caroline Roberts Tuesday 31 October 2023
An extensive staff wellbeing offer can make your organisation look good from the outside. But how can you ensure it’s truly addressing the needs of employees?
An image of a group of people holding up masks

You’ve heard of “greenwashing”, but have you heard of “wellbeing washing”? It’s when employers make a show of supporting staff’s mental, physical and financial wellbeing while doing little of real impact. 

A recent report by financial wellbeing provider Claro Wellbeing found that a third of people think their employer is guilty of it. 

Another web poll by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health puts this figure even higher, at 51%. One significant finding of the Claro Wellbeing study was that, while seven in ten workplaces celebrate mental health awareness days, only three in ten employees feel the mental health support offered is ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. 

For Paul Devoy CCMI CMgr, CEO of Investors in People, workplace wellbeing is about organisational culture and management style. Having a wellbeing strategy in isolation from a good people strategy doesn’t work, he explains. “There’s no point having a great wellbeing offer if people are overworked and badly managed”. 

Leaders need to embed a positive culture, ensure managers are well trained and that the organisation is properly resourced, he says. If managers are stressed to the max, that just leaks out onto their teams. Leaders also need to be prepared to show their own vulnerabilities; if they can do this, it’s much more likely staff members will feel able to do the same and receive support.

Want to learn more about how to avoid ‘wellbeing washing’ and genuinely support your employees?


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