The hidden dynamics of wellbeing: navigating work/life balance and employee health


Jul 10, 2024


The modern work environment
With the rise of remote and hybrid working, the increasing recognition of the effects of workplace environments and patterns, and disconnect between employer and employee expectations, balancing work and personal life has become more challenging yet more crucial for mental and physical health.

An increase in workplace support has been needed
We have seen an increase in employees accessing workplace health and wellbeing support for anxiety and depression:

  • 41,360 assessments completed since 2020
  • 2023 saw a 38% increase from 2022, the largest increase to date

Work is often perceived to be a contributing factor
42% of those assessed, perceived work to be a contributing factor to their mental health condition. However, we found there were many more risk factors that could be impacting on their health. Of all the employees assessed:

  • 69% were overweight or obese
  • 95% did not meet activity guidelines
  • 14% regularly had less than 6 hours of sleep
  • 24% were smokers or ex-Smokers:
  • 65% had limiting fears about their condition

Understanding how the way you think and feel affects health and wellbeing
Fears, beliefs, and attitudes can significantly influence health and wellbeing. How people think or feel about their health condition, life and work can impact a person’s ability to recover, return to work and their future health.

Most current workplace health and wellbeing strategies fail to acknowledge these ‘flags’
Interventions are often focused on the health issue at hand, rather than looking at the wider factors that may come into play in the health condition. While this may solve the issue in the short-term, it is unlikely to prevent future ill health.

Mind over matter
Unhelpful thoughts and feelings about health tend to translate into avoidance behaviour, for example, avoiding interactions with colleagues when feeling depressed, or seeking treatment that may not address the root cause, such as physiotherapy for an MSK issue. It may also present in the form of a belief that they may never fully recover from a health condition, perhaps because of age.

In over 12,000 cases, we found that 69% of employees experiencing mental health, MSK or other health concerns had fears, attitudes and/or beliefs about their health.

The impact of fears, attitudes and beliefs on the business
Of just over 4,000 absence cases in the first 6 months of 2024, the impact of limiting beliefs, attitudes or fear saw a 13% increase in absence.

Cases with multiple limiting beliefs, attitudes or fears saw a 25% increase in absence.

Support employees to take control of their health and improve their own work / life balance
While we’ve seen that 42% of employee perceive work to be a contributing factor to their mental health condition, lifestyle factors are also at play. Providing employees with the means to look after their own health and wellbeing through personalised, tailored support that addresses different areas of life can make a huge difference in how the employee feels and approaches work moving forward.

With the right support, employees are equipped to maintain and improve good health
For those employees experiencing anxiety and depression, following initial assessment, 37% were able to improve their condition through personalised self-help.

  • 72% saw a reduction in anxiety
  • 69% saw a reduction in depression

For those who were on sick leave, 51% returned to work earlier than the clinical norm.

Addressing the root causes

Employers must recognise the importance of a holistic approach to employee wellbeing and implement tailored interventions that address the specific needs of different employee groups – whether it be age, gender or lifestyle-based.

Challenging unhelpful beliefs

Identifying and addressing feelings and thoughts about health and wellbeing can significantly improve recovery times and reduce the need for clinical treatment. Employers that provide education and support to help employees overcome misconceptions about their conditions see a greater improvement in wellbeing and productivity across the workforce.

Creating a thriving workplace

Investing in a personalised, integrated approach to employee health and wellbeing can lead to thriving individuals and successful businesses.