15 effective tips to boost wellness in the workplace

Man stretching happily at his work desk in front of a laptop

When individuals are in their optimal state, they excel in all aspects of their lives, both at home and work. Therefore, it's logical for businesses to promote overall wellbeing among their employees.

Employees who feel good physically and mentally are likely to be more focused, engaged and productive at work. Those who don't may be less efficient, less engaged, less present - and looking for work elsewhere.

And if employee wellness is linked to employee performance, then it's linked to business performance too.

More and more employers are starting to realise this and are investing accordingly. However, this investment should be genuine as paying lip-service with token or one-off gestures is unlikely to create the outcomes you're looking for. Worse, your employees will see exactly what you're trying to do, and wind up feeling even more dissatisfied.

Here, we'll explore how focusing on wellness can benefit businesses in the long run - and what could happen if they don't.

We'll also offer 15 simple yet effective tips for improving employee wellness, and look at a couple of businesses that have implemented successful strategies.

Workplace wellness is at an all-time low

'Wellness' is a broad term, spanning physical and mental wellbeing, and encompassing things like job satisfaction, a sense of purpose, feeling respected and safe, and creating meaningful relationships.

In the workplace, it's these factors that contribute to the general satisfaction or dissatisfaction among employees. So if employees are dissatisfied, it will typically take more than a foosball table and Friday night drinks to turn that around.

In the years following the pandemic, wellness at work has dived to an all-time low.

A talent shortage in Australia has led to the 'Great Resignation', with in-demand workers changing jobs in droves.

Businesses have also experienced the phenomenon of 'quiet quitting'. This is when workers do what they're paid for in working hours, and literally nothing more.

Facing inflation and stagnating wages, workers are rejecting 'hustle-culture' and doing the bare minimum. The stress and anxiety of a post-Covid world has also left a lot of workers feeling burnt out and focusing their energy on their personal lives.

All of this combined means it's more important than ever for employers to invest in worker wellness.

Gartner's Global Talent Monitor Survey found that overall employee wellness in Australia has declined, dropping from 36.5% to 34.5%.

According to the report, this trend has continued into 2023. Both physical and mental wellness among Australian workers have dropped to an all-time low of 22.5% and 25.3%, respectively.

Why does workplace wellness matter?

According to the Black Dog Institute, unhealthy workplaces cost Australia up to $39 billion each year.

While the number of physical workplace injuries are gradually reducing, the research states there is an increase in cases of mental ill-health at work.

According to workplace perks business Perkbox, work-related stress is the second-most compensated workplace illness or injury in Australia, after musculo-skeletal injuries.

Poor health and general wellbeing have also been linked to absenteeism and presenteeism - whereby employees come to work despite being unwell. Presenteeism alone has been estimated to cost the Australian economy $36 billion, annually.

Essentially, wellbeing at work is linked to higher productivity, better office morale, reduced absenteeism and reduced staff turnover.

People who are thinking clearly will also be more focused, make better decisions and be able to effectively communicate and collaborate. This could even reduce the risk of workplace accidents and injuries.

Further to this, more businesses are starting to understand the link between wellness and performance, and are implementing strategies to improve employee wellbeing. Those businesses are more likely to attract and retain top talent, which can only improve performance further.

Caring for employees' physical and mental wellbeing is not only the morally right thing to do - it's good for business.

15 effective workplace wellness tips

There are various things businesses of all sizes can do to help boost wellness among their workers. For every employer, depending on size, industry, geography and the makeup of the workforce, some strategies will be more effective than others.

Here is a list of 15 effective strategies for improving worker wellness. They relate to mental and physical wellbeing; showing staff you value them; and supporting them to be as productive as possible.

1. Offer flexible working

For some businesses, the 9am to 5pm, 40-hour work week is unavoidable. But for many, it's not.

And for many employees, working outside of these hours can help with balancing work and life obligations, whether that’s getting kids to school, caring for family members or continuing their education. It can also simply allow people to work at the times they're naturally more alert, productive or creative.

That autonomy also shows them they're valued and trusted.

2. Allow for remote work

Similarly, remote working might not be right for every business, or a good fit for every employee. But if you can offer employees the option of working from home, and implement tech tools to help keep them connected, you just might be able to retain and attract more top talent.

Research from PwC found that 74% of Australian workers would like to work from home for at least three days a week. It's insights like these that'll make people gravitate to the businesses that not only allow for remote work but build it into their culture.

3. Support personal and professional growth

Investing in employees' personal and professional development shows you value them and support their growth goals, and that you hope to keep them around. This is especially true if they have autonomy to choose what to study.

As noted by Hays, upskilling employees can also ensure your business is prepared to keep up with tech changes, regulation or best practice in various industries.

4. Invest in mental health training

According to the Black Dog Institute, the most effective workplace wellness programs will mitigate risk factors, helping prevent mental ill-health before it occurs.

Providing managers with evidence-based mental health training can help them to recognise warning signs among their direct reports, and give them the skills to respond in the most appropriate way.

A four-hour session for managers has been shown to improve outcomes for employees. Analysis also suggests that business can see a $10 return on investment for every $1 spent on mental health training, in reduced absences alone.

5. Offer an employee assistance program

In a similar vein, many businesses offer free counselling services for staff members through an employee assistance program (EAP). Employees can use this service and many others for any challenges - personal or work-related - that might be affecting their wellbeing.

According to a study by UTS and The University of Sydney, poor workplace mental health can impact a business' bottom line due to increased staff leave, turnover, compensation claims and reduced productivity. On the flip side, a mentally healthy workplace has shown to have increased productivity, staff engagement and profit. In fact, the return on investment in creating mentally healthy workplaces is $4.00 for every dollar spent.

6. Create a safe workplace

This should go without saying, but true wellbeing is only achievable if employees feel safe in the workplace - both physically and psychologically.

According to research from Perkbox, 50% of Australians have experienced workplace bullying. Simple things like using respectful and inclusive language, and meeting accessibility needs, can help foster a positive culture for all employees.

Australian startup Teamgage has partnered with the University of South Australia to launch a program helping businesses identify and mitigate the risk of bullying in the workplace, reducing complaints by 46%.

7. Encourage open communication

Creating a culture of clear and respectful communication can encourage employees to share anything they're struggling with - whether that's workload, workplace relationships or something difficult in their personal lives.

They should also be able to raise any concerns without fear of repercussions.

For leaders, good communication means openly sharing both good and bad news, being mindful of language and body language, and asking questions and truly listening to the responses.

8. Give staff autonomy

Giving staff autonomy to make decisions and take action in their roles can demonstrate trust and support, as well as give individuals a greater sense of purpose.

This is empowering and encourages critical thinking and problem-solving. It can also help staff members to grow professionally within an organisation - something that can help build an emotional connection to the workplace, in turn leading to happier, loyal and more productive workers.

9. Encourage physical wellness

In an office environment, encouraging physical wellbeing can include offering yoga classes on site (also helping encourage mindfulness and reduce stress) or simply offering fruit and other healthy snacking options in the office kitchen.

You could also consider offering sit-to-stand desks as part of an ergonomic desk setup or other measures to help desk workers stretch their legs occasionally.

In all work environments, employers could consider offering perks such as discounted gym memberships, access to apps, and discounts at sports clothing outlets.

Businesses with smaller budgets could facilitate friendly and low-pressure activity challenges - such as setting a monthly step-count challenge.

10. Use technology to support productivity

There's nothing more frustrating than ageing, slow or unsuitable technology holding you back, or interrupting your productivity. On the other hand, efficient technology can empower employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability - a major contributor to job satisfaction.

Something as simple as an efficient multi-function printer could have a significant impact here. For example, Brother’s MFC-L6700DW, and many other Brother models offer an automatic document feeder (ADF) that quickly scans sheets of paper into a document management system, meaning less time waiting in queues for the printer.

Meanwhile, the MFC-L8900CDW allows for custom automation for scanning jobs, and can scan and print simultaneously. Tailored software integrations allow the machine to be perfectly tuned to specific business needs, helping teams work seamlessly and limiting tech-related challenges.

11. Encourage (even require) work-life balance

Make sure employees can take a break from work - that includes both short breaks during the working day, and longer breaks throughout the year.

Some workplaces limit meetings over lunchtime, to ensure everyone gets time away from their desk or to down-tools. Workers on annual leave should not be expected to answer their phones or respond to emails - and this should be modelled by senior management.

According to Australian startup Culture Amp, one of its clients even offers a bonus for taking time off. If an employee answers a call or logs into their email while they're away, the cash is off the table.

12. Celebrate successes

An easy way to show your employees they're valued is to celebrate their successes. Let the whole team know when one person has done an amazing job or hit an impressive milestone. And, if a customer is happy, share that feedback and credit anyone who contributed.

Of course, recognising good work with a pay rise, a bonus or even a one-off gift can also go a long way in showing employees they're doing a great job.

13. Offer support for parents and caregivers

Support for working parents can go a long way towards making all employees feel they are valued, and will continue to be even if their circumstances change.

Australian business Circle In offers businesses a ready-made employment benefits platform with a leaning towards supporting parents and caregivers. According to its website, 80% of employees that have access to the platform feel "more positive towards their organisation".

14. Implement change at a policy level

According to mental health organisation Beyond Blue, one of the keys to driving good mental health at work is commitment from leadership.

Writing any changes you make into company policy shows this commitment, demonstrating that the leaders of the business are genuinely invested in employee wellness, rather than paying lip service to the idea.

Leaders should also model the behaviour they want to see to fully build it into the workplace culture.

15. Track your progress

Finally, you can't improve on employee wellness if you don't fully understand where the problems lie in the first place. And properly measuring your progress will help you track any improvements.

Australia-built tech company CultureAmp allows companies of all shapes and sizes to run employee engagement surveys, measuring how proud they are to work for the business; whether they would recommend it; how committed they are to the business in the short- and long-term; and whether they feel motivated in their position.

This allows employers to focus on the most pressing areas for improvement, while showing employees they're listening to - and acting on - their concerns.

Case Studies

Barmco Mana McMurray: Supporting wellness for a small team

Construction and building consultancy Barmco Mana McMurray has been recognised by the ACT Government's Healthier Work scheme as a Platinum Workplace, having had a health and wellbeing plan in place for four years or more.

As of 2020, the business had just 14 staff members, but had embedded a commitment to wellness in the workplace deeply into its culture.

Measures have included everything from 'multicultural Fridays' to a six-monthly team blood-donation, to a 20-minute daily foosball break in times of stress. The company has also purchased an e-bike for communal use for team members to travel between sites, to client meetings, or just to take a ride to clear their heads.

According to director Trent Gourgard, having a health and wellbeing plan has "greatly inspired each of us, reduced absenteeism and improved productivity".

SEEK: Support for new parents

Online jobs marketplace SEEK introduced a program to support employees through their parental leave journey, with measures including extending paid parental leave to 14 weeks; offering leave transition coaching; and training for managers.

According to the business, it has seen improvements in job satisfaction and employer engagement, improved employee wellbeing, and increases in staff retention.

SEEK said that investing in training managers ensures success in the strategy across the board - making sure all employees can access the same opportunities.

It also notes that making leave available to fathers and non-birth parents has created opportunities for inclusion and helped reduce implicit biases.

All businesses rely on the people within them, and it should come as no surprise that those people want to be treated as valued humans, not just cogs in a machine.

Increasingly, focusing on employee wellbeing is more than a nice-to-have - it's vital for maintaining productivity and attracting the best talent. Implementing wellness strategies now will set businesses up to succeed in the long term.

As we move into the future of work, it's the businesses that truly value their people that stand to win.

How Brother can aid in your workplace wellness efforts

Investing in employee wellbeing is a must for any business looking to support their workforce and drive success. From acknowledging and rewarding efforts to upgrading office equipment, there are various strategies to enhance workplace wellness.

In today's digital age, Brother recognises that every workplace is unique, requiring tailored approaches to boost wellness. That's why our experts collaborate with business leaders to better understand their challenges and goals.

Whether it's implementing secure software solutions for print or enabling efficient document management and collaboration, Brother has the expertise and technology to help. Our cutting-edge solutions align with the evolving needs of businesses in the age of digital transformation.

Contact Brother today to see how we can improve your print, scan and document workflows, helping bring a positive change to your workplace.


*Your email address will not be published in the comment below

Please fill out this field.
Please include an '@' in the email address. Plesae enter a part following '@'. Please enter a correct email domain. Please fill out this field.
Please fill out this field.

Your comment is awaiting moderation

Resource Library

Resource Library

Explore our range of eBooks, Whitepapers & Case studies

Subscribe for Blog update

Keep up with the latest industry & tech trends

Subscribe here for monthly updates on the latest industry trends across Labelling & Portable Printing, Managed Print Services, Print Fleet Management, Document Management, Visitor Management Systems, Identification & Asset Management Solutions, and more.