Employee Wellbeing vs Healthy Organisations: What's the Difference?

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Employee wellbeing has always played a pivotal part in the development of positive and progressive workplaces and over recent years, we continue to see an increase of individuals who are no longer shying away from communicating their motivations, career ambitions and their need for a work-life balance to their employers.

Because of this, companies now must make certain that their organisational health is a fundamental priority, ensuring they foster a workplace that encourages employee progression, collaborative company culture and quality leadership.

In this blog, we talk more about employee wellbeing vs healthy organisations, including the differences, similarities and how an organisation can shift their focus to a structure better suited to the needs of their employees. 

What is employee wellbeing?

Employee wellbeing is about making sure employees are healthy, secure, empowered and engaged with their work. It covers a wide range of initiatives including:

  • Health and safety – this can include safe working practices, checked and secure equipment, risk assessments, health and safety training.
  • Physical health – good rehabilitation practices, health checks, disability management, wellbeing benefits, health insurance.
  • Mental health – an employee assistance programme, conflict resolution training, stress management, managing mental health illnesses in the workplace.

When referring to the CIPD’s health and wellbeing report, it’s said that shockingly, only 40% of businesses have a standalone wellbeing strategy, which includes a clear and concise plan of their commitments to ensure employee wellbeing is a primary focus.

It’s said because of this, poor mental health contributes to 56% of long-term absences from work and is the most frequent cause of absences in the long run.

As previously mentioned, employee wellbeing is crucial of any workplace and has been proven time and time again to host several different advances to any workforce including:

  • A reduction in overall employee stress
  •  A more positive and collaborative working environment
  • A focused and productive team
  • An overall improvement in general wellbeing and happiness

A full-time employee will spend, on average, between 35 and 40 hours a week at work, this totals to over 1,795 hours per year and a third of our entire lifetime. This means our general wellbeing and state of mind, can and is directly impacted by our jobs and how well we are cared for by the organisations we work for.

What is a healthy organisation?

A healthy organisation is based around a more holistic, progressive approach and ensures that the whole organisation is aligned in terms of company culture, creativity and credibility. A healthy organisation has employee wellbeing running through its veins but also ensures legislation and compliance laws are met.

McKinsey and Company have identified six pillars that they believe make up a healthy organisation, these include:

  • Department organisation
  • Processes and workflows
  •  Employee wellbeing and development
  • Organisational fairness
  • Meaningful work
  • Innovation

It is said that organisational health has been forged based on a people-centric approach and has shifted from just employee wellness to psychological fairness, active employee listening, nurturing and supportive environments.

Healthy organisations focus on not only employee wellbeing but how the business is led, and the tools and processes available to those who are working for the company. 

Individuals who have the correct processes and workflows in place are said to be generally a lot happier and productive in their workplace and in turn, generate high levels of income and profit, contributing to business success.

Organisations that are also built to operate at high capacity, able to maintain business growth through hardship and make room for meaningful and innovative responsibilities are said to be healthy and focused on much more than just employee wellbeing.

It’s clear that Individuals are drawn to healthy companies due to their commitment to safer and more environmentally friendly practices, as well as the development of people and teams. All these aspects show how healthy an organisation is, as well as how developed and progressive it is in both its business activity and brand image.

Employee Wellbeing vs. Healthy Organisations: Differences and Similarities

Looking at both concepts holistically, it’s clear that there is an overlap. However, below we’ll speak more about the differences and similarities, including how employee wellbeing has shaped the healthy organisation.

The Differences

While both concepts do cover mental, physical and social wellbeing, a healthy organisation differs due to the state of the organisation and how well the moving parts that make up the business are operating.

A healthy organisation is also further committed to employee safety and has appropriate policies and procedures in place to protect employees against an array of different grievances such as discrimination, gaslighting and whistleblowing. With more of a focus on policy and strategy, a healthy organisation has the correctly skilled individuals needed across learning and development, HR, and finance who know how to implement these safe and legal practices throughout the business. 

The Similarities

Don’t get us wrong, there are some similarities across both of these concepts, however, it’s clear to see that a healthy organisation, is somewhat an evolution of employee wellbeing and it was only when we started looking into the nitty gritty of employee wellbeing and taking the issues at hand seriously, that the health of organisations started to improve and real differences occured.

How they come together

Critical functions such as learning and development, management and HR have solid influential power here to truly make change within business and it’s when these professionals challenge, implement and lead, that organisations will start to see a positive shift in the right direction.

An important thing to remember is that a healthy organisation is not something that happens overnight, rather something that is built over time through small changes to workplace best practices, employee wellbeing initiatives, and improvements to environmental, social governance. 


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