The challenge of wellbeing at work

I’ve been pondering lately about this whole work/life balance thing. What is it we’re trying to achieve?

See, when it comes to balance, people themselves are often the wrong people to recognise what balance they’re seeking. The phrase of not seeing the wood for the trees is very true here. We want things to happen, often failing to realise we are in full control of what that means.

It also makes me wonder about how we promote wellbeing at work. As a topic, wellbeing is one of the hardest things to get right. There are myriad things we could have in place to support wellbeing, but how does it play out?

Wellbeing at work only really matters if the culture is supportive of it. If the organisation has a blame culture, if it’s frowned on for leaving work early, if you’re expected to work long hours, if you don’t talk with other departments, if you can’t talk to your senior leaders, these are all indicative of things which mean your staff aren’t being cared for.

I see companies striving to have better wellbeing and benefits available for their staff. But it can sometimes feel like a sticky plaster over other problems.

In order for wellbeing programmes to work well, the culture needs to be right first. This isn’t a chicken and egg scenario. It’s about accepting reality. If the reality of the organisation is that wellbeing and healthy individuals are not important, then no amount of investment into personal programmes will make a difference.

There’s no easy answer to how an organisation faces up to that reality.

Additionally, it’s important that you have the right ingredients in place that help people feel secure and safe at work. Pay levels, working environment, IT tech, management structures, learning and development, health and safety, all these things and more have to be right before you can start caring for a person’s whole self.


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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

One thought on “The challenge of wellbeing at work”

  1. Interesting blog Sukh.
    Something about ‘programmes’ just worries me. Like a programme for engagement – when both are about relationships, and the former is about a way being with and for others to promote better self-care of our own mental health.
    I’m interesed in how we create working relationships within which it’s genuinely OK to have a sick day because of a mental health reason. For example “I’m feeling so low I can’t function today and need some rest” being as equally acceptable as “I have flu/nausea/other I need to stay at home”. Too often people wait for mental strain to materialise as physical illness – because something about it being visible makes it more ‘ok’ to be ill. Perhaps because we know how to practically cope or solve the problem. Today First Aid education is regularly available, as schools and in most youth communities. Teaching awareness from putting a plaster on to recognises illness. But where’s the MH first aid – how to cope when you’re feeling down, how to treat someone else in that state, what anxiety is. Resilience, self-efficacy and the ability to fill your own self-esteem bucket.

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