Last month, we wrote about the importance of organisations focusing on both engagement and wellbeing to enhance productivity:

We suggested that:

  1. more emphasis needs to be placed on wellbeing as a stronger contributing factor to optimal engagement and performance
  2. a more strategic approach is needed, where organisations co-ordinate the measurement of engagement and wellbeing, and link initiatives to improve both.

Before we suggest what this approach may look like, let’s be clear what we mean by wellbeing.

Often, wellbeing is used as a broad term to describe positive functioning across all aspects of individual functioning. It is sometimes called “thriving” or “flourishing” to capture wellbeing as an optimum or positive state, rather than simply the absence of illness.

Most definitions also emphasise the importance of this flourishing across all aspects of life.

This definition is one we particularly like:

Employee wellbeing is a positive state in which the individual is able to function at or near their optimal level, whether defined and measured in terms of physical, mental, emotional and/or social functioning, with significant implications for the individual, their family and community, the organisation and society at large.

Ellen Pruyne, Ashridge Business School, 2011

At Umbrella, we often talk with people about the concept of wellbeing as “your best self”. When you are at your best, how do you feel, think, act, behave and perform? What helps you to be your best self and what factors get in the way? Then for people leaders – how do you create and maintain an environment that supports people to be and perform at their best?

Since wellbeing is a multi-dimensional concept, it includes aspects from an individual’s work life as well as their personal one. It can therefore be a challenging concept for organisations to operationalise, to track and to support.

In our experience, it is very important to acknowledge that there is no “one size fits all” approach and for organisations to develop their own unique approach. Here are some steps that organisations we work with closely have used to strategically develop their own wellbeing and engagement success.

  1. Define wellbeing and engagement

In this organisation, and for our people:

  • What do these terms actually mean? What does a highly engaged person with high wellbeing look like in our business? How can we tell if someone is struggling to maintain their wellbeing or engagement?
  • How are wellbeing and engagement connected to our organisational values and purpose?
  • How and why is wellbeing important to us? Likewise, engagement?


  1. Check in on the organisational commitment
  • Is improving wellbeing and engagement a business priority?
  • How is this priority actioned and supported? Do we have a mandate from the board and executive team to execute and maintain the commitment over time?
  • Is there a budget allocated to support?


  1. Identify how wellbeing and engagement will be measured and tracked
  • Which measures will be used?
  • How often?
  • How will the results and follow-up actions be communicated?


  1. Assess current workplace practices and environment
  • Do these support or hinder wellbeing?
  • Do these support or hinder engagement?

For example:

  • Physical environment
  • Leadership effectiveness
  • Working relationships
  • Sense of competency and potential for development/future challenges
  • Rewards
  • Work/life balance and flexible work schedules.


  1. Develop targeted strategies and interventions
  • to address and improve levels of engagement and wellbeing
  • that are visible, and effective.


  1. Follow through and reassess
  • Check in on the commitment
  • Review the usefulness of the measures – are any changes needed?
  • How effective have the interventions been?
  • Assess progress
  • Develop a next steps intervention plan.


Contact us to find out more about our integrated approach to wellbeing and engagement [email protected]