At a time when flexible working is transforming the organisational culture of companies, a new emerging approach to employee wellbeing believes it’s no longer enough to offer traditional employee benefits; some successful organisations are beginning to take a holistic view that considers the physical, mental, social and emotional health of their employees.

What will I read aboutin this article?


A holistic approach to employee well-being

If there is one thing we have learned in recent years, it is that mental health is a fundamental and inseparable component of people’s overall well-being. Its importance lies in the fact that it directly affects our quality of life, our interpersonal relationships, our academic or work performance, and even our ability to enjoy the simplest, everyday moments of our daily lives.

A healthy mind allows us to face life’s challenges with resilience and adaptability, and provides us with a solid foundation to achieve our goals and dreams. It is a powerful ally on our path to happiness and personal fulfilment.

Companies are starting to realise this and are investing in mental health to improve employee wellbeing. But it seems there’s still a long way to go. According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, 59% of respondents reported at least one mental health problem. This has a direct impact on people’s quality of life, but also on the company’s performance, as the study shows:

  • These employees are four times more likely to leave the company.
  • They’re three times more likely to report low job satisfaction.
  • They’re twice as likely to report low job engagement.
  • And they’re 3 times more likely to report having experienced toxic workplace behaviour.

A broader approach to what employee wellbeing means and encompasses adds physical, social and spiritual aspects to mental health problems.


“If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it is that mental health is a fundamental and inseparable component of people’s overall well-being”.


Physical health: beyond the corporate gym

Physical health refers to the overall state of well-being of the body. It’s about having a strong and well-functioning body, free from illness, fatigue and injury. Employee fitness goes beyond providing corporate gym memberships. It includes flexible schedules that allow employees to exercise, get adequate rest and eat healthy. Some companies are even incorporating ergonomic workstations to prevent postural problems or even providing spaces in the same work areas for individual or group exercise, such as gyms, paddle tennis courts, swimming pools…


Mental health: the new focus of employee wellbeing

Mental health is the cognitive, behavioural and emotional state of an individual. Mentally healthy people have the ability to withstand normal levels of stress and to appropriately manage adverse events while maintaining a positive and realistic sense of self.

Mental health has fairly recently become a major issue in organisational culture. Companies are implementing digital disconnection policies, counselling programmes and mindfulness workshops.

Social health: fostering community

Social wellbeing is an individual’s ability to build nurturing, genuine and supportive relationships. People with good social health are able to form meaningful connections with others and have a strong sense of belonging to a community.

Organisations are fostering collaboration and camaraderie through team building events and collaborative workspaces. In previous articles we‘ve talked about the role of good teams in employee job satisfaction. Building quality and trusting relationships with your colleagues makes everyone strive for a shared goal that leads everyone to achieve success, leaving no one behind.


Why an interrelated view of the pillars of well-being is essential

The WHO constitution states: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or malady.” Thus, the dimensions we‘ve just seen play an essential role in the well-being of the others.

This is the case, for example, with social well-being. Unwanted loneliness is like smoking or pollution in cities: a risk factor that wears down our health day after day. According to McKinsey, social factors can increase the risk of mortality:

  • 32% in the case of people living alone.
  • 29% for those who are socially isolated.
  • 26% for those who feel lonely.


Physical health also remains essential to employee well-being. For example, lack of sleep can hamper equalisation, creativity and problem-solving skills. Similarly, fatigue can interfere with our leisure time, our willingness to interact with others and our mood.


“Lack of sleep can hinder equalisation, creativity and problem-solving skills”.


According to the Spanish Sleep Society, between 20% and 48% of the population have problems falling asleep at some point, and in 10% of cases – around 4.7 million people – there’s even insomnia.

In short, organisational culture must conceive employee well-being along these dimensions. Companies that take a holistic view of well-being will not only have happier and more productive employees, but will also be able to attract and retain the best talent.