With 37% of people suffering from worse mental health than pre-pandemic and 73% citing work as being at least partly responsible, it comes as no surprise that companies have started looking at how they can support their staff’s wellbeing. In fact,  81% of large companies say they are offering a workplace wellness programme already. 

These programmes see companies implementing an array of health and wellbeing initiatives, from encouraging employees to improve their physical health through gym memberships to providing access to mental health support, offering more flexible working options and so on. 

And while a recent study found that 61% of employees say a good work-life balance and better personal wellbeing is a very important motivating factor to work for an employer, not everyone takes companies up on their offers. 

Why is that? Having worked on workplace wellbeing programmes for lots of big companies, we’ve listed out the key reasons we’ve come across over the years. 

Four reasons you might experience lower employee engagement


  • Large workloads

    One reason we hear often is that employees simply don’t have the time to join a wellbeing workshop due to being too busy.
    If employees cite big workloads as the main culprit, there could be an element of people not daring to take a break from their day jobs, which may be a result of company culture.

  • Lack of communication

    Another reason is that the upcoming wellbeing workshop may not have been communicated well, or often, enough. The average worker receives around 121 emails every workday so it’s very possible that an email urging people to sign up for it may have simply gotten lost in their already overcrowded inbox. 

  • Employee needs

    Another reason could be that an employee might feel like they don’t have a need for it because, at this very moment, they consider their mental wellbeing to be fine. Educating people about the importance of working on a preventative wellbeing strategy to train the mind is key.

    Or it could be because the programme is too generic or broad, and not touching upon the diverse needs of your workforce.

  • Workplace mental health stigma

    Finally, it could be that there is a prevailing stigma towards mental health that could cause employees to be worried about how attending a wellbeing workshop might come across to their manager or colleagues.

Wellbeing programmes for employees: how to encourage engagement

Now that we’ve covered some of the key reasons employees don’t participate, what can you do to encourage more engagement from them?

  • Offer a broad variety of sessions

    Every employee will have different mental health concerns. Staff dealing with long-term work-related stress may benefit from stress management workshops, while others might prefer one-to-one sessions with trained coaches to help them build more resilience.

    Ensuring your program offers a wide range of activities to cater to different employee needs is key, but the tricky bit is understanding those needs in the first place.

    We offer a Mental Health and Wellbeing Audit to help you understand what’s really going on with your people and identify the best ways you can support mental health and wellbeing at work. The audit combines quantitative and qualitative research methods and you’ll receive a full report with recommendations upon which to build your programme.

  • Include senior management

    An IBM study found that there is a mismatch between how senior management and employees assess the mental health situation at their company. According to the study, 80% of executives believed their company is supportive of employees’ physical and emotional health, while only 45% of employees said the same.

    This mismatch is not unusual and can be what causes employees to worry about taking time out of their day to attend wellbeing workshops. In order for a wellbeing programme to be successful, support and buy-in from the management team is required. Their participation will show a true commitment to improving your company’s health and wellness culture.

  • Prepare a good launch

    We can’t stress this enough: communicating your programme well is the key to getting more engagement. This doesn’t just mean emailing your workforce multiple times about it, but also ensuring you’re really communicating the wellbeing benefits they’ll get out of attending. Build excitement by highlighting program success and get managers involved to encourage their teams to participate. You need to really sell it to them if you want them to buy into it.

  • Don’t forget the admin bit

    Last but not least, make sure you get invites for upcoming workshops into diaries with as much notice as possible, especially if they are virtual and your employees are working from home. Again, consistently reminding people of the importance of attending is key!

Mental Health Check: How does your company perform?

How mentally healthy is your workplace? Is there a genuine commitment from the senior leadership team to good mental health? Is your company a ‘safe space’ and are people encouraged to speak up?

We’ve created a one-minute, free mental health check for your organisation and will provide you with a personalised health score as well as advice for building a happier, mentally healthy workplace. 

Ready to get your score? Get started today. 

Cate Murden
Cate is the Founder and CEO of PUSH. She created PUSH with the fierce belief that with the right tools, mindsets and behaviours, we could build better workplaces full of happy, healthy and high-performing individuals.

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