Promoting Workplace Wellbeing to Drive Engagement & Performance

The concept of employee engagement will shortly enter its 4th decade, since its introduction by academic William Kahn in 1990. Its value still provokes heated debate, involving passionate supporters who advocate for redesigning the whole employee experience to drive measurable impact on performance, and, on the other hand, sceptics who do not believe the investment of time and resource in employee engagement to be worth considering.
When organisations start by pinpointing the problems and barriers to engagement that are unique to them, and adopting a situation/challenge – action – results approach, their chances of developing the right engagement strategies are far greater.
As an example, a problem in your organisation could the lack of emphasis given to employee well-being, particularly when the drive for increased productivity in businesses is higher than ever. You may be grappling with increasing absenteeism, and looking at a range of solutions to address this. How do we practically balance the demands managers and leaders place on employees with the opportunity to recharge and rebalance? Employee well-being is not only physical, but mental and emotional; 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17 [1]. Many recognise the benefits of physical exercise, but practices for a healthy mind are often overlooked.
Mindfulness-based interventions have been found to be very effective in reducing depressive symptoms, anxiety and stress [2]. Mindfulness is very topical currently and has an interesting body of neuroscientific research backing it. Mindfulness can help reduce vulnerability to depression by buffering against deliberation, reducing automatic negative emotional responses in the brain [3]. Rob Narins defines mindfulness as ‘knowing what is happening, as it happens, whatever it is.’
A study looking at correlations between the mindfulness of individuals at work and their engagement level, energy level and dedication at work found that those with higher mindfulness scores received better job performance assessments from their managers [4]. Mindfulness has also been linked to greater cognitive control, decision-making, creativity and problem-solving.
Shaping employees’ brains to be stronger, more resilient, and more fit for purpose starts to deliver results from day one [5].

What Can You Do?

A well-considered strategy is one of your most valuable assets. A review of seven wellbeing programs suggested the average benefit-cost ratio was £4.17 for every £1 spent [6]. Creating opportunities for people to learn about the state of flow and the effect of meditation on their brain, will help them to be responsible and accountable for their own brain shaping. The end goal should be an organisation whose environment and culture supports fulfilled brains, bringing excitement on a Monday morning and fulfilment on a Friday afternoon.


We work with many leading companies in the UK, as well as globally, taking a holistic view of their engagement challenges and approach. A Mindfulness taster session can be offered as part of an integrated programme. Please contact us on 01727 847398 or email us to hear more about our current work and how we can partner with you. We’d love to speak to you!
[1] Health and Safety Executive, 2017.
[2] Khoury et al. (2013) Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Clin. Psychol. Rev, 33:6: 763-771.
[3] Paul et al. (2013) Psychological and neural mechanisms of trait mindfulness in reducing depression vulnerability. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosci. 8:1: 56-64.
[4] Dane, E. Brummel, B.J. (2013) Examining workplace mindfulness and its relations to job performance and turnover intention. Hum. Relat., 67:1: 105-128.
[5] Brann, Amy (2015) Engaged.
[6] ‘Building the Case for Wellness’ (2008) PWC.
© Hayley Toye, Starboard, 2018