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Employee Wellbeing: Can it Really Enhance Productivity?

Does employee wellbeing enhance productivity? And do the benefits of increased productivity outweigh the costs of a wellbeing programme?

In short, how does a wellbeing programme impact the bottom line?

The Health and Wellbeing at Work 2021 survey, carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), showed that more and more companies in the UK are investing in a wellbeing programme – an increase of 25% since 2018.

Does this mean that employee wellbeing is paying off?

3 brands built on a wellbeing policy
Johnson & Johnson

Founded in 1886 by three American brothers, Robert, James, and Edward Johnson, Johnson & Johnson is a paradigm of corporate philanthropy.

  • During the 1898 Spanish-American war, J&J kept employees’ jobs open, on full pay, whilst they served in the armed forces. They also donated medical supplies to the war
  • In the early 1900s, J&J began training staff in first aid, so that if an employee was ill or injured at work, an emergency response team was on hand.
  • In 1906, J&J donated medical supplies for the treatment of those wounded in the San Francisco
  • In 1909, J&J introduced free hot meals to nightshift
  • In the Great Depression of the 1930s, unemployment soared; J&J shortened the working day so that all employees could be retained.
  • In 1944, Johnson & Johnson’s Maternity Leave of Absence policy came into

This philanthropic business model isn’t pure altruism. Johnson & Johnson report savings of millions of dollars through staff retention, wellness, engagement, and productivity.


At the turn of the 19th century, George and Richard Cadbury established Bournville, a settlement constructed for the benefit of Cadbury employees and their families. Cadbury workers were paid generous wages and provided with healthy housing and a pioneering pension scheme. Copious sporting facilities and events were available, free of charge, to the Cadbury workforce and their families.

The Cadbury brothers weren’t the first employers to recognise the benefits of staff wellbeing, but they were certainly not typical of their time. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that wellbeing in the workplace became a more familiar concept.

There’s little doubt that this long-standing business is a financially successful one.


According to Forbes, Google is the world’s second-most valuable brand. is the world’s most visited website, and many of the company’s other products – such as YouTube, Google Chrome, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Maps – occupy a prominent position in the world of information technology. This gargantuan corporation employs 139,995 workers globally.

A legend in its own time, Google is famous for its rapid growth, innovative products, and industry authority.

But Google is also known for its wellbeing policy. Employee perks include free food, sleeping pods, childcare, onsite medical staff, laundry facilities, free haircuts, table games, cooking classes, gymnasium, swimming pool, and massage. Staff are also allowed to bring their dogs to the office.

How can employers ensure employee wellbeing?

Biophilia is the human need to be in touch with the natural environment and plays an important role in architectural design and interior decoration. Features of a biophilic office include large expanses of glass, open-plan areas, and natural materials and imagery.

From the window, we get natural light, a view of the outdoors, and a feeling of being a part of the world. Through windows – even closed windows – we’re exposed to natural sounds, like rain, hail, wind, barking dogs, birdsong, and human voices. An open window provides the stimulating touch of cool air on skin; and fresh air restores the balance of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air. Natural smells from outside satisfy our desire to engage with nature.

Will the returns on enhanced productivity cover the costs of a biophilic office?

Physical activity

Using the stairs is a fantastic form of exercise. Spacious, attractive stairways that provide opportunities for social interaction will encourage staff to move around a building.

Some companies provide onsite gym and sports facilities, and others offer company-funded membership of a local gym or sports club. Alongside the benefits of physical activity, staff can develop wider social relationships within the company. As always, physical activity is closely linked to emotional wellbeing.

Will the returns on enhanced productivity cover the costs of gym memberships?

Standing chairs

Standing consumes around 50% more energy than sitting. A standing position is also better for digestion, respiration, and joints. When we’re standing, our calf muscles contract and relax, improving blood flow, which helps prevent clotting.

Will the returns on enhanced productivity cover the costs of standing chairs?


Hydration is a vital factor in a person’s state of health and wellbeing. Every aspect of our physiology is dependent on water – from circulation to respiration; from digestion to evacuation; from cognition to temperature control, immunity, and joint lubrication. It’s so easy to ignore the signs of dehydration.

Organisations that have a positive approach to wellbeing understand the value of providing hot and chilled water on tap. An employer’s attitude to hydration can affect employees’ behaviour in terms of drinking throughout the working day. An office that features a prominently placed water dispenser conveys the message that hydration is encouraged, whilst a small, dark kitchenette, tucked away in a corner, conveys an entirely different message.

A high-capacity, low-energy water dispenser is a cost-effective element of a healthy, happy work environment.

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