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Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work

Not just free fruit

Wellbeing does not grow on trees

"The leadership of health and wellbeing must, unequivocally, come from the highest level"

A ubiquitous 'catch-all' term, 'wellbeing' is used to refer to everything: from a good diet to the protection of those suffering from mental ill-health. While occupational safety remains a key priority for employers across all sectors, there is growing public awareness of the impact wellbeing has on individuals, organisations and society as a whole. It is estimated that over 5 million UK workers could be suffering from a mental health condition each year.

Examining current literature on occupational health and wellbeing, Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work seeks to define ‘wellbeing’ in workplace contexts, exploring the term’s varying connotations and applications.

"Only about 1 in 6 (17%) organisations evaluate the impact of their health and wellbeing initiatives"

Wellbeing at work is here to stay. It means physical, emotional and mental health. This review interrogates the physiology and psychology of the working environment, with the twin aims of directing the employer to arrangements which protect wellbeing, while also helping all workers.

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Workers’ wellbeing is fundamentally linked to job quality. Employers must recognise that popular health promotion initiatives (e.g. free fruit, company health insurance), which traditionally represent ‘workplace wellbeing’, can only be beneficial when the quality of the work itself takes precedence. Alongside a safe and healthy working environment, fair wages, relationships with managers and colleagues, job design, degree of responsibility and authority, workload, working hours, and career development are vital components of workers’ wellbeing.


Employers should invest in workplace health and wellbeing to create better working lives, better work performance, reduced staff turnover and increased productivity.


The leadership of health and wellbeing must come from the highest level. Senior leaders of all organisations should ensure that a health and wellbeing strategy linked to corporate objectives is established, and actively drive its effective implementation.


Workers must be given the opportunity to participate fully in the creation and development of initiatives designed to improve their own health and wellbeing. Beyond staff surveys, effective dialogue, consultation and workers’ involvement will help to ensure that wellbeing interventions meet the needs of employees, while at the same time increasing levels of engagement.


All line managers must be appropriately trained in mental health awareness and the relevant support mechanisms, so they have the confidence to communicate with employees with care and sensitivity.


Organisations should evaluate the impact and efficacy of their health and wellbeing interventions on a regular basis, to ensure they adapt and respond to the changing needs of their workers.



As well as an organisational approach to improving wellbeing, British Safety Council is also making available a series of video exercises to boost people’s wellbeing. Covering both physical and mental wellbeing, these exercises can help reduce racing thoughts associated with stress and anxiety and discourage prolonged sitting.

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Articles and further reading

Here is a list of further reading to complement our review:

  • Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) (2016), Policy Report, Growing the Health and Well-Being Agenda: From First Steps to Full Potential
  • Global Wellness Institute (2016), The Future of Wellness at Work
  • Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) (2014), ‘Is it time wellbeing grew up?’, Employment Relations Comment
  • Nicholson, Paul (2017), Occupational Health: The Value Proposition, Society of Occupational Medicine
  • Taylor, Matthew et al. (2017), Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices
  • Measuring Job Quality Working Group (2018), Measuring Good Work: The Final Report of the Measuring Job Quality Working Group

Poster competition: Images of wellbeing

2018 WinnerWellbeing In The Workplace
Rimsha Ahmed

2018 Best under 21 posterGet Up B4 12
Colin Orr

2018 Best animated posterSilver
Lidia Teasca

View all posters of wellbeing >



  • Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, developed by VitalityHealth
  • Mates in Mind

Special thanks

  • Shaun Subel, Director of Corporate Wellness Strategy, VitalityHealth
  • Elizabeth Gaudin, Senior Consultant, Forster Communications
  • Superintendent Sean Russell, West Midlands Police Mental Health Lead & Director of Implementation for West Midlands Mental Health Commission


  • Researcher/author: Shehzana Mamujee
  • Designer: Dean Papadopoullos
  • Publisher: British Safety Council

For further information about Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work and our wellbeing campaign, please contact: Shehzana Mamujee, Policy and Research Analyst: [email protected] or Matthew Holder, Head of campaigns and engagement: [email protected]

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