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02 November 2022

How to drive engagement with your wellbeing initiatives

At the start of 2022, Forbes identified employee wellbeing as the number 1 HR trend. More and more organisations are introducing initiatives to support their people. But not everyone is getting the results they are looking for. Sarah Harris, Managing Director of The Wellbeing Project, shares her thoughts about how to integrate wellbeing into business as usual.

It is a common pain point we hear from our clients. They want to drive culture change, but when they introduce new initiatives, they achieve very little engagement. So, it is worth exploring how to ensure wider buy-in.

1. Understand the problem

It is not uncommon for organisations to introduce wellbeing solutions without truly understanding the problem first. So, the first step is to gain clarity.

  • What do you know about your people and your existing culture?
  • What patterns of behaviour are you experiencing (sickness, churn, long hours, increased HR requirement)?
  • How healthy is your workforce?

There are a number of ways you can do this. You might want to start with existing data: absence rates, exit interviews and EAP utilisation. Wellbeing measurement tools such as the Wraw psychometric can provide in-depth analysis of employee wellbeing. Pulse surveys can help you track progress. Our guide to wellbeing measurement is full of ideas on how to do this.

The key message: Before attempting a solution, make sure you understand the problem.

2. Be open and transparent in your communication

Many organisations will capture data, and then file it away. This undermines the value of the exercise and drives disengagement.

As you gather information, be open and transparent about what you are seeing. As you make decisions on how you will address the findings, share your approach. This sends a powerful message that it is more than just a tick box exercise.

For employees to engage with wellbeing initiatives, a culture where it is safe to be open and vulnerable is required. So, enter into a dialogue about mental health and wellbeing across the business. Show what are you going to do, all together.

The key message: Build trust through transparency.

3. Lead by example

Wellbeing plans fall apart when you ask your people to engage, but leaders role model disengagement.

When your leaders are visibly engaged it is incredibly powerful. It is about sharing stories, talking openly, and “showing up” for your wellbeing activities. This invites engagement from the rest of the company. It creates a culture of togetherness, and gives permission to the rest of the company to engage.

The key message: A healthy workforce is everyone’s responsibility – you are in it together.


These 3 key principles are a great foundation for engagement and buy-in. But let’s go deeper and think about implementation. How can organisations integrate their strategy into business as usual?

4. The golden triangle

The PPT framework, also known as the golden triangle, was developed as a map for organisational  change. People, processes and technology are the 3 key elements to effectively manage the overall improvement of any organisation. All 3 need to be considered and work together to establish a ‘new normal’. Introducing a culture of wellbeing is no different.

Let’s look at some examples.

If you introduce initiatives such as yoga mornings, wellbeing forums and staff surveys, they will be short-lived if you don’t also consider how you embed these initiatives into your ways of working. What needs to change internally to set your people up for success? How easy is it for them to engage? What does progress look like? Where’s the impact?

Introducing a new wellbeing tool without thinking about how your people operate and the necessary processes to enable uptake will lead to poor outcomes: low usage, resistance, operational inefficiencies. Likewise, encouraging your people to focus on their wellbeing at work, without providing them with an appropriate tool and regular measurement will be a fruitless effort.

To get buy-in from your people, you need to create a holistic environment that truly fosters wellbeing in the workplace and intuitively encourages easy engagement. That means creating a strategy that connects your people, your processes and your systems.

2. Think about the diversity of your workplace

If you don’t understand the different needs of your people, you are unlikely to achieve buy-in. As you develop your strategy, think about the diversity of your workplace.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Different communication preferences, levels of resilience, awareness around wellbeing, confidence in sharing personal stories, and the variety of lived experiences all need to be considered.

If you’re not sure how to reach everyone, don’t be afraid to ask! Anonymous polls, surveys, and employee resource groups are a great way to listen. As you understand more about your people, you can ensure that the activities, conversations, and initiatives you introduce are truly inclusive.

3. Adopt an agile mindset.

My background is in tech, and there’s a lot to be said for the fail fast, learn fast ethos of the modern tech industry. As you develop your wellbeing strategy, start small, don’t plan everything at once and expect changes.

You may have understood your problem, captured feedback and considered a wholly inclusive approach however, it is still worth creating just part of the solution, trying it out and getting feedback as to how effective it is before deciding what element of the overall solution or strategy to deliver next.

If something doesn’t land, that’s ok – learn quickly, let it go, and improve upon it. This will help you move at pace, without losing sight of your targets or goal.

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