Wellness In The Workplace

Mental health apps, menopause support, mindfulness sessions, gym subsidies, counselling helplines … workplaces are increasingly focussed on the welfare of their employees.

The celebration of dog ownership in the workplace is having a moment. ‘Bring Your Dog to Work’ Day falls in June (this year on 24 June) and has been going for over 20 years.
Employers are giving dog owners adoption and bereavement leave, paying for pet insurance and encouraging employees to bring dogs into work. Research shows that dogs reduce stress and promote sociability and exercise. But is an office full of dogs everyone’s cup of tea?

Why are employers so focussed on the wellness of their employees? Employer awareness of the mental health challenges and the wellbeing of employees has undergone a revolution since the onset of the pandemic, whilst multiple lockdowns and the advent of working from home and hybrid working has changed employee attitudes to work forever. Many employees now want the option to work at home, and many have ditched one career for another or retired early. Meanwhile, employers face difficulties in retention and recruitment. It’s clear something needs to change.

Last month a trial started of the 4-day working week in 70 companies involving more than 3000 employees. This is led by two 4-day week campaigns together with researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities. A whole spectrum of businesses are involved, from banks to fish and chip shops. The aim is to study the 100:80:100 paradigm, in other words is it possible to earn 100 percent of your salary for a four day week on the basis your productivity is not reduced.

Researchers will consider the effect on employees’ health, happiness, productivity, and use of fossil fuels, the latter because researchers will also look at the effect on the environment of a reduced working week.

The study will continue for 6 months. Similar studies are proceeding across the globe.