How Is Wellbeing At Work Changing?

When we are mentally healthy we are more likely to fulfill our potential, function well, cope with the normal stresses of life, enjoy work and to make healthy choices about our lives.

Many companies today are recognising the need to look after their staff and provide them with health and wellbeing benefits. People work best when they feel good about themselves. Happy healthy employees are more productive, making organisations more successful.

There is a growing body of evidence to show the financial benefits enjoyed by organisations that implement well-being programmes, including reduced sickness absence, improved productivity and reduced staff turnover.

According to the Office of National Statistics 131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2013.

‘For many employers, the costs of ill-health, which, given the ageing population and the increase in chronic disease, will only grow in the absence of intervention, is enough to justify a comprehensive wellness scheme’.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, Building the Case for Wellness (2008)

Managing Stress

Pressure is part of life and helps keep us motivated but excessive pressure can lead to stress. If stress is excessive or goes on for some time, it can lead to mental ill health. How people cope with pressure will be affected by a variety of factors, including the amount of support available from friends, family and the workplace, as well as personal coping mechanisms.

Many activities can lead to improved mental health such as being physically active, completing an enjoyable task, meditating or just taking time out to relax.

By learning and understanding the methods and techniques that work for you, you can increase your ability to deal with stressful situations more effectively and likewise, be able to bounce back faster when faced with adversity.

Play to de-stress

“Play is what you’re passionate about doing. You want to do it because it’s enjoyable and you want to keep doing it because it brings you joy.”
Dr Stuart Brown, National Institute for Play.

If play can elicit joy, play can help reduce stress and maintain wellbeing in the workplace. Play encompasses a whole range of activities both physical and mental. It can be done alone or with others. There are multitudes of ways to incorporate play into the working day.

Playing at work

When we think of play, we think tend to think of it as being childish and immature. Something only kids do, however play is important for everyone, regardless of age. Play can be incorporated into the workplace to improve employee wellbeing and thus increase productivity. Play can increase creativity, boosts problem solving skills and improves working relationships.

Activities that elicit laughter and where people are comfortable and having fun will help groups bond. Team building activities can be built into the working day. They needn’t take up a lot of time and they can help break up routine and provide inspiration. Fun activities can be designed that have a related learning outcome. The activity in effect kills two birds with one stone. Employees have the opportunity to bond with their colleagues in a fun, enjoyable way, thus reducing the build-up of stress and employees are being taught a skill without it being a long laborious task.

Creative industries are already adopting play into their business culture and actively encourage play amongst their employees. Ping pong tables, table football and pool tables are just a few examples of the ‘toys’ being provided by employers. Some employers have even incorporated slides into the design of their offices.

image credit: Scott Beale/Laughing Squid cc

Some businesses are putting on games night, where colleagues have the opportunity to play card games/ board games with their fellow colleagues. Many businesses offer Yoga and Pilates classes for their employees.

The Greater London Authority have introduced The Workplace Wellbeing Charter, organisations can sign up to show their commitment to health of their employees.

As more and more businesses recognise the need to provide wellbeing benefits for their staff, will provision of wellbeing activities change and will there be more opportunities to play? Will businesses adopt a more playful culture? What opportunities does your employer provide you with? What opportunities would you like to be offered?


A Shot of Play aims to create a world where people are healthy in mind and body because they play.

Play is a purposelessness activity that you engage in for enjoyment or recreation. Play should be intensely pleasurable. You experience the here and now and you lose track of time. It should energise and enliven us. It should ease our burdens and renew our sense of optimism and open us to new possibilities. Play is not a luxury. It is a must have and is invaluable to our wellbeing.

If you share our vision of a world where people are healthy in mind and body because they play, then join the #shotofplay movement on Facebook. Pledge to play for at least 10 minutes a day, every day.

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