Wellbeing at Work Week

Employee well-being has garnered much attention among organizations over the past decade, and the pandemic has only solidified its importance. Work plays a significant part in most people’s lives, with an average person estimated to spend 1/3 of life at work. Not only can all aspects of one’s work-life affect their well-being, but employees’ well-being can also affect their contributions at work and, in turn, impact an organization’s performance outcomes on an aggregate level. Recognizing that the most valuable asset of an organization is its people, it makes sense to prioritize employee well-being and improve their work-life.  

Wellbeing at Work Week 1

Employee well-being has garnered much attention among organizations over the past decade, and the pandemic has only solidified its importance. Work plays a significant part in most people’s lives, with an average person estimated to spend 1/3 of life at work. Not only can all aspects of one’s work-life affect their well-being, but employees’ well-being can also affect their contributions at work and, in turn, impact an organization’s performance outcomes on an aggregate level. Recognizing that the most valuable asset of an organization is its people, it makes sense to prioritize employee well-being and improve their work-life.  

A Holistic View of Employee Well-being

“Well-being has been the ultimate goal of human pursuit since ancient times” (Zhao & Wei, 2019, p. 135). What we refer to as well-being is thought to encompass the hedonic experience of feeling good or happy, the eudaimonic aspect of fulfillment and purpose from leading a life well lived (Sonnentag, 2015), and the evaluative element of being satisfied with particular aspects of life or life in general (Jeffrey et al., 2014). To put simply, the state of well-being refers to feeling, functioning, and evaluating one’s life positively. Yet a person’s well-being is inherently dynamic and can fluctuate over time, influenced by myriad internal and external factors. For instance, all aspects of a person’s work-life can affect their well-being, from their job duties, work stresses, and relationships with coworkers to the culture, resources, and support at work. Similarly, other domains of a person’s life can also affect their well-being. 

When it comes to employee well-being, there has been an increasing call for organizations to understand employees from a holistic perspective (Meister, 2021), taking into account various dimensions of wellness. For example, wellness can be considered to comprise the following eight dimensions (Swarbrick, 2012):  

Physical wellness – have good physical health and habits (e.g., sleep, exercise, physical activity, diet, nutrition) and obtain medical care appropriately

Emotional or mental wellness – able to cope effectively with life and stress, experience and express a wide range of emotions appropriately, and feel positive about yourself 

Social wellness – have a sense of connection and a well-developed support system (e.g., family, friends, coworkers, community) and show interest and concern for others 

Financial wellness – have the financial resources to meet practical needs and a sense of control and understanding over personal finances  

Occupational wellness – able to gain satisfaction and enrichment from work or other activities that provide meaning and purpose

Environmental wellness – have safe, clean, pleasant, and stimulating surroundings (e.g., home, workplace, community) and access to clean air, food, and water

Intellectual wellness – able to continuously learn, expand and apply knowledge and skills 

Spiritual wellness – have meaning and purpose in life and a sense of balance and peace

From Employee Well-being to Organizational Well-being

It has been argued that employee well-being is a precursor to organizational well-being (Page & Vella-Brodrick, 2009). Indeed, how employees feel, function, and evaluate their lives can affect work performance and other on-the-job behaviors (Sonnentag, 2015). The positive correlation between certain measures of employees’ well-being and work performance has been well-documented in large-scale studies covering a broad range of occupations (e.g., Donald et al., 2005) and in meta-analytic studies examining independent samples from around the world ( e.g., Ford et al., 2011). Findings from a meta-analysis on data collected by Gallup from 1,882,131 employees in 230 independent organizations across 73 countries (Krekel et al., 2019) further suggest that consistently across all types of industries, employee well-being is positively correlated with organization performance measures such as customer satisfaction, lower staff turnover, and profitability. 

Improving Employee Well-being and Work Life

Given that work plays such a big part in most people’s lives; naturally, the workplace presents many opportunities for improving employee well-being. Specifically, this undertaking calls for a rounded approach that both supports employees’ wellness in various dimensions of life to maximize their personal resources and enhances employees’ work-life to enable them to flourish and take pride in their job, function at their best, and have an overall positive experience of work (Jeffery et al., 2014).

Below are but a few examples of employee well-being initiatives for inspiration: 

  • Build a work culture that values work-life balance 

Having an appropriate work-life balance is essential to well-being. Indeed, if work takes up most of a person’s time, it leaves them with little opportunity to attend to, let alone flourish in other areas of their lives. Not to mention, long working hours are a hazard to both physical and mental health. To promote work-life balance, encourage full-time employees to work the conventional amount of work hours without overtime, offer part-time arrangements and flexibility regarding when and where employees work and respect their work hours.  

  • Encourage healthy habits for physical wellness 

Physical wellness is fundamental to well-being. Self-rated health was found to be a strong predictor of multiple well-being measures in the Third European Quality of Life Survey (Eurofound, 2013). Unfortunately, some aspects of work can get in the way of physical wellness, such as sitting for long hours. Beyond the basics of protecting employees’ health and safety at work, employers can support staff in achieving good physical health by providing infrastructure and opportunities to incorporate regular exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep into their work lives (Jeffrey et al., 2014). Some ideas include subsidizing gym memberships and healthy meal plans, including healthy food options in canteens, standing for shorter meetings, providing standing desks, adding exercise equipment at work, and avoiding late-night meetings. 

  • Destigmatize mental health and support mental wellness 

“There is no health without mental health” (World Health Organization, WHO). In truth, mental wellness is paramount to one’s well-being. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a crisis in mental health beyond other health, social and economic impacts, with more people worldwide reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress (WHO, 2022). Poor workforce mental health can be very costly to employers. Hence, destigmatizing mental health at work and providing resources to support mental wellness have become more critical now than ever. For instance, employers can consider offering confidential mental health support services through EAP, organizing seminars for staff on various mental wellness topics, providing access to mental wellness resources like relaxation techniques or guided meditations, and equipping staff with skills to navigate around mental health conversations.   

  • Foster good work relationships 

We, humans, are social beings and are wired to connect with others. It is, therefore, not surprising that the majority of people value good work relationships (Jeffrey et al., 2014). Not only do good relations at work benefit well-being, but the social support from these relationships can also buffer against the effects of stress. To foster good work relationships, prioritize time and create opportunities for social connections among coworkers, such as encouraging staff to work together on tasks, organizing activities and events for staff to socialize informally outside the workplace, setting up social clubs, etc.   


As the saying goes, society flourishes when individuals flourish; when employees achieve good well-being standards, they are more likely to display a range of skills that will also benefit the organizations they work for (Jeffrey et al., 2014).  

If you are interested in scheduling a session with Dr Natalie Loong or have further queries, please contact us today. 


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Free Covid-19 Mental Health Self Help Guide

In March 2020, the Covid-19 Mental Health Relief Committee (made up of therapists from Central Minds), partnered with Mind HK to launch the Covid-19 Mental Health Relief Scheme, offering short term pro-bono mental health support to individuals in need.

As the pandemic continues and mandatory quarantine requirements and restrictions are continuously changing, we have now created a self help guide for individuals to work through at their own pace.

The guide, developed by our clinicians in partnership with Mind HK, includes several self help tools and strategies to guide you in managing your mental health during the pandemic and whilst in quarantine.

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