The Business Case For Workplace Wellbeing

Michelle McQuaid
3 min readJun 10, 2022

Why 93% of workers say wellbeing is as important as pay

As workplaces continue to wrestle with the great resignation, a new study has found that 93% of the Australian workers surveyed said their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing is just as important as their level of pay. So, what might this mean in a practical sense for workplaces?

“The good news is that there is a clear business case for investing in employee wellbeing,” explained workplace wellbeing researcher Nic Marks when we interviewed him recently. “For example, on a five-point scale, improving an employee’s wellbeing by even half a point equates to $2,500 to $3,5000 of extra benefits each year due to improvements in creativity, collaboration, productivity and savings in staff retention.”

Nic’s research suggests there are five evidence-based ways to care for the wellbeing and resilience of teams at work. They include:

  • Connect — It is much easier to do great work when we are happy in the company of others, whether we are online or in our physical workplaces together. Teams who encourage, support and appreciate each other make problem solving, innovation and success possible.
  • Be Fair — Being treated with fairness and respect is fundamental to happier work. People flourish when organizations are responsive to their needs and value the energy they put in. Teams flourish when colleagues appreciate one another.
  • Empower — Sharing responsibility and playing to people’s strengths can unleash an amazing potential in organizations. When people are able to be themselves and use their own judgment, they do great work.
  • Challenge — People are happy in their jobs when they are absorbed and progressing in their work. By making jobs interesting, organizations pull people into a space where they learn and achieve great things.
  • Inspire — Doing a job that we feel is genuinely worthwhile is a great source of motivation in our lives and it can sustain us through challenging times. Seeing beyond narrow business goals to how we help other people makes work more meaningful.

Practically, Nic recommends leaders try:

  • Optimizing Challenges — People like to be stretched in ways where they feel they can learn, without being stretched so far outside their comfort zone that they are left feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. By providing opportunities for playful experimentation, feedback and reflection, teams can optimize — rather than maximize — challenges so teams can work in ways that boost psychological safety, creativity and innovation.
  • Setting boundaries — Since COVID, the boundaries between work and life have deteriorated. Teams can help each other to set healthy boundaries as they work by setting clear rituals around when they work, where they work (the office or home and on which days) and how they work together to communicate clearly as they deliver on their responsibilities. Often, people are reluctant to say “no” because they don’t want to hurt someone else, but knowing what is and isn’t okay, what can and can’t be accommodated as we work together makes the “yes” that much stronger.
  • Talking About Wellbeing Regularly — Wellbeing and happiness should be a weekly conversation in teams to reflect together on what’s gone well over the last week and what hasn’t. By creating safe spaces to discuss how a team can build on the good and address the negative, small issues are much less likely to become big problems. It’s the repetition that builds trust and makes people feel safe to talk about what is happening in the team.

How are you meeting the expectations of workers for more wellbeing support?