Why workplace health benefits fail to boost employee happiness

by Time Doctor
workplace health benefits

Businesses spend more on various mental health benefits to create happier, healthier work environments. Enhancing employee well-being through virtual therapy sessions and mindfulness training aims to improve their sense of purpose and productivity. With one noteworthy exception, a new UK study indicates that the impact of these therapies may not be as great as anticipated. Let’s examine the results and consider how we may actually improve workplace well-being.

The research: An extensive examination of workplace interventions

This comprehensive study, conducted under the direction of William Fleming, PhD, at the University of Oxford’s Wellbeing Research Centre, assessed ninety-one distinct workplace treatments intended to improve well-being. The study, which included information from 46,336 employees in over 230 businesses, discovered a troubling pattern: almost all of the treatments examined had no appreciable positive impact on employee well-being, with the exception of volunteer programs.

Principal results

  • Minimal effect: There was no discernible improvement among the participants in terms of subjective well-being across several metrics.
  • A notable exception: The only intervention that showed a positive connection with increased well-being at work was volunteering.
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The mental health buffet: An inadequate strategy

The CEO of the mental wellness platform Real, Ariela Safira, contends that the existing paradigm of workplace mental health benefits—a “mental health buffet”—is not meeting the demands of today’s workforce, and the study’s findings support her views. Even with the well-meaning expansion of mental health benefits, the underlying problems that lead to stress and job discontent are still unresolved.

The call for innovation

Professionals such as Safira and Dr. Richard Safeer, Chief Medical Director of Johns Hopkins Medicine, emphasize the importance of developing novel care models that address the requirements of both the individual and the group in the contemporary workplace. This entails going beyond prefabricated fixes and creating a culture of well-being that incorporates deliberate, human-centered leadership and regulations.

What workers actually desire

The following policies, according to research from Bentley University and Gallup, would really improve workers’ well-being:

  • Decreased after-hours work: Limit your work after regular business hours to preserve work-life balance.
  • Four-day workweeks: Shorter workweeks are being used in an effort to boost productivity and lessen burnout.
  • Mental health days: Including days off specifically for mental health to promote workers’ wellbeing.

These results highlight the significance of treating the underlying causes of stress and burnout as opposed to just providing band-aid fixes.

The way ahead: Reevaluating well-being approaches

Considering the intricacies of contemporary work life, especially in the wake of the pandemic, it is evident that a universal strategy for mental health benefits is inadequate. In order to improve employee well-being at work, businesses need to:

  • Have creative care frameworks: Create fresh, clinically sound care plans that are readily available, affordable, and accessible to everybody.
  • Encourage a culture of well-being: Create an atmosphere where each employee in the business looks out for their coworkers’ well-being in addition to their own.
  • Take care of systemic problems: Address the root causes of burnout and stress at work, such as an overwhelming workload and a lack of encouragement for work-life balance.


The UK research should act as a wake-up call for HR specialists and companies to reconsider their approaches to employee well-being. By focusing on new treatment models and significant structural changes, we can establish work environments that really support each employee’s mental and emotional well-being.

As we move forward, let’s rise to the challenge of creating work settings where well-being flourishes rather than merely endures.

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