Acas uses cookies to ensure we give you the best experience and to make the site simpler. Find out more about cookies.

Website URL : https://acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1361

Health and wellbeing

In the past, when people thought about health in the workplace, they were mostly concerned with 'health and safety'. For instance, minimising physical hazards, such as noise, dust and chemical hazards. While addressing these issues is still essential, employers should also be focussed on creating workplaces that promote and support good health and wellbeing.

Download our pdf icon Advisory booklet - Health Work and Wellbeing [647kb].

What is health and wellbeing?

Health refers to both a person's physical (body) and mental (mind) fitness.

Wellbeing is how people feel and function on an individual and social level. It covers the way they feel about their lives, including their jobs, and their relationships with the people around them.

What can affect the health and well-being of staff?

A person's health and wellbeing can often be affected by their own character and their home or social life but it can also be influenced by factors at work.

While working is often good for someone's health and wellbeing, factors at work that can affect the health and wellbeing of staff include:

  • relationships with their managers
  • relationships with colleagues
  • amount of involvement they have with organisational issues and decisions
  • job design and control over the way they do their work
  • availability and acceptability of flexible working

Why should employers take steps to support the health and wellbeing of their staff?

A healthy workforce can have a hugely positive impact on their organisation. Healthy staff are more likely to:

  • perform their role and responsibilities well
  • be willing to 'go that extra mile' when required
  • take fewer sick days
  • build good relationships with colleagues and customers
  • want to stay longer with the organisation.

For an employer, creating a healthy working environment can be important in ensuring a productive and effective organisation.

While an employee's health and well-being can be affected by issues away from the workplace, an employer who takes steps to promote good health and well-being in their workplace will be well placed to provide the support an employee needs to cope with a period of ill health.

What does a healthy workplace look like?

There will be different issues that influence wellbeing at an individual level, but there are common factors in work that can help improve staff wellbeing in general. These include:

  • effective policies for managing people issues (such as absence, disciplinary and grievance)
  • high levels of trust between staff and managers
  • line managers who are confident and trained in people skills
  • making staff feel valued and involved in decisions
  • using appropriate health services (e.g. occupational health where practicable) to tackle absence and help you get back to work
  • well designed jobs
  • flexible working options
  • managers who identify problems at an early stage and seek to resolve them using informal methods
  • managers who know how to manage common health problems such as mental health and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

How can employers improve health and wellbeing in their workplaces?

It may appear difficult or costly to take steps to improve the health and wellbeing of staff. However there are many small and simple changes can have a huge impact.

The Acas pdf icon Advisory booklet - Health Work and Wellbeing [647kb] can help employers create a working place that provides the support and environment that staff need to thrive.

Employers may also find it helpful to read the Acas guide pdf icon Promoting positive mental health in the workplace [554kb].

Try Acas Helpline Online

Ask me a question

Q and A

Popular questions

Do you have a question?

Ask Helpline Online

Useful additional resources

Advice

Acas has a range of advice resources in this area for employers, managers and employees, including on:

Acas Productivity Tool

Take the Acas self-diagnosis Productivity Tool test to understand your organisation's strengths and weaknesses, and to help you identify simple practical steps you can take to get the best out of your staff. The tool will produce a report with links to relevant Acas guidance and services.

Acas Model Workplace

Acas' free online tool - the Acas Model Workplace - is designed to help organisations check that they have the right people management policies in place. This tool is free to use. Why not take a few minutes to check your policies and procedures today.

Further support

Acas offers training to help employers and manager. Our training improves skills in identifying issues and helps increase confidence in supporting colleagues.

View and book a training course near you. We can also tailor training to meet your organisation's needs and deliver it at your workplace.

For free e-learning courses, visit Acas Learning OnLine.

If your organisation is experiencing specific concerns regarding mental health, our specialists can help diagnose the cause and tailor practical solutions. To find out more:

Contact Us This link opens in a new browser window

Your details: news and notifications