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Are We Guilty of ‘Wellbeing Washing’?

Are We Guilty of ‘Wellbeing Washing’?

There’s been a change in the wind. Can you feel it? There’s been a shift in understanding employee needs and recognising the importance of employee welfare. However, amongst Britain’s bustling workplaces, a new phenomenon is emerging… Wellbeing Washing.

What On Earth Is Wellbeing Washing?

If you have never heard of wellbeing washing before, you are not alone. Put simply it is the process of making changes to your workplace which, on the surface, might appear to help employees improve their welfare and increase workplace happiness without actually getting to the core of an employee’s problems.

Examples of  Wellbeing Washing might be:

  • Free Gym memberships
  • Bring-your-pet-to-work days
  • Free or subsidised food
  • Casual dress codes
  • Voluntary lunchtime wellness sessions

Now, we are absolutely not shooting down these solid employee benefits. In fact, here at Siren, we have similar benefits which help our employees get the most out of their work; including flexibility of working location, end-of-month team meals and quarterly away days.


“…there is a big difference between giving an employee ‘nice things’ and building a strong foundation

of support for every employee”


However, these benefits are just that… benefits and they do not constitute a complete wellbeing strategy. But if that’s the case, how does a workplace avoid a surface-level approach to wellness and get to the core of employee wellbeing?

What Does Employee Wellness Look Like?

If we have just taken a bat to your current workplace wellbeing strategy, we apologise; however, a business can do more to ensure that you are reaching out to your employees on a deeper and more meaningful level. 

Improving employee wellbeing means giving your employees space and solutions. There is a big difference between giving an employee ‘nice things’ and building a strong foundation of support for every employee.

Rather than offering voluntary wellbeing classes at lunch (please don’t do this, your staff would find a lunch break away from their desk far more beneficial!) At Siren, wellbeing sessions happen during work hours, they are 1-2-1 and they are led by an impartial professional, not management; offering a safe space to discuss anything which might be of concern.

How Does Siren Go Further?

Aside from 1-2-1s, sending anonymous employee surveys can help you understand your employees’ concerns and help you gauge satisfaction levels within your organisation, letting you make impactful changes.

By introducing a business model which accurately determines if a team member has too much on their plate we have also been able to reduce the risk of burnout whilst evolving and integrating our hiring process. This change in particular tackles the core issue at the heart of every workplace where priority is placed on short-term productivity over long-term welfare. 

It’s a foreign concept here at Siren. After all, employees are your best resource, so it pays (quite literally) to keep your team in a good place. How can you function as a business without taking a vested interest in your employees’ mental health? The short answer is, you can’t!

Final Thoughts

Your team is not made of robots, they are not ‘cogs in the machine’. Surface level wellbeing add-ons are popular and there is no problem in having them if it benefits your team as they go about their daily tasks. That said, understanding your employees and creating a welfare structure which gives them a safe avenue to have their say, discuss their mental health without fear and gain valuable insights into what your team feels and needs is vital for employee health, retention and yes, employee productivity.

How does your business get to the heart of employee wellbeing, or is the promise of free yoga to help with your unmanageable workload a bit of a bitter pill? Have your say down in the comments!

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