Improving Health and Wellbeing at Work

Your people

Most people spend up to 40 hours a week at work. It's important to consider the role your working environment plays on your wellbeing and to create an environment where employees feel supported. At Heart of the City, we're often asked for tips on building workplace wellbeing stratgies and low-cost wellbeing initiatives, so here are our tips.

1) Form a wellbeing committee

Get together a few colleagues who meet regularly to plan events, communicate wellbeing messages and raise ongoing ideas from other employees

2) Know your health and wellbeing services

Do you offer an employee assistance programme or have health insurance that covers mental health assistance? Make sure your employees can find out about it in an employee handbook and your intranet, and that you tell new starters about it in inductions.

To help managers support employees there are also some great training tools by Wellbeing in the City, including a free 15-minute e-learning about active listening.

3) Plan activities around events

From annual campaigns like mental health awareness week in May or stress awareness month in April there are loads of campaigns your business can get involved in. Mind and Time to Talk have great resources your wellbeing committee can use.

You could also use one of these days to share your key messages: recirculate your employee assistance programme details or highlight your mental health first aiders.

4) Keep the momentum going

Most people are familiar with the stats around mental health at work: one in three of us experience a mental health issue. But it’s important that colleagues at all levels are talking about it. Encourage senior leaders to talk about wellbeing at board meetings so it’s discussed as an ongoing priority by your senior team, not only around awareness days.

5) Practice positive wellbeing every day

Do you have weekly team meetings? Start them with a wellness check! Ask everybody how they’re feeling on a scale of one to ten (e.g. “nine – I feel great, really well rested and positive about the week” or “six – I feel tired and had a difficult commute this morning”). This is an easy way to gauge how your colleagues are feeling and know if somebody might need an extra support that week.

No meeting rooms? Why not try a standing meeting or head out of the office for a walking meeting to get moving?

6) Give your lunch & learn a wellbeing spin

Short videos on mental health can serve as powerful conversation starters and a great start to a lunch and learn. Get some colleagues together and play a clip like the World Mental Health Organisation’s ‘I had the black dog, his name was depression‘ and have a discussion afterwards.

7) Get moving

If you work in an office, you spend seven hours a day at your desk, so you need to get moving!

  • Move every 45 minutes by setting yourself reminders to get up and walk around
  • If you have any yoga enthusiasts at work, ask them to show you some desk yoga moves for regular stretching
  • Encourage some competition by taking part in a walking challenge. Use Fitbits or phones to track your steps – the Heart of the City team takes part in the Business Healthy challenge every May!

8) Host a curry & chaat

We love this idea from the Mental Health Foundation to get your team together for a curry and chaat night – download a free placemat setting and over food, sit opposite a different colleague and get to know someone new!

9) Do a digital detox

Spending lots of time glued to digital detoxes means you’re contactable from around the world.

As a team, discuss setting boundaries around digital detoxing such as switching your phone off during holidays and when you leave work – some teams even set a rule of no emails on Friday afternoons!

Some businesses have a dedicated mindfulness room that has a strict ‘no screens’ policy, and they’ve produced digital detox guides for employees.

10) If you have a budget…

If you can spend some money on employee wellbeing, you could:

  • Hold mental health first aid awareness training. Best practice suggests matching the number of trained physical first aiders at work with mental health first aiders. You can do one or two-day courses in mental health first aid training or awareness with Mental Health First Aid England, St John Ambulance and Noa Burger.
  • Subscribe to a wellbeing app. Mindfulness and therapy apps such as Headspace, Calm and Spill are very popular and offer a low-cost way for employees to take time out and get some support.
  • Invite expert speakers. Are you based in a shared space with other businesses who are interested in promoting wellbeing activities? You could split the cost of inviting in a speaker to talk about the importance of sleep, exercise or other wellbeing topics.


This was updated in December 2019 by Heart of the City