Has the cult of workplace wellbeing run its course?

Forget mindfulness apps and fresh fruit Fridays. If we really care about employee wellbeing, we need to rethink job design and work culture, says VALA CEO Pete Trainor.

by Pete Trainor

It’s been hard to ignore the buzz around employee wellbeing over the last few years, with influencers evangelising on social media and corporate event stages, and with stencilled affirmations and flyers for wellbeing programmes becoming the norm on office walls around the world.

But as staff got offered more workshops, quiet rooms with bean bags, nurturing chats and healthier snack options, have we all really got what we hoped for - happier heads? Or is it merely papering over a much more serious problem requiring a much more serious fix?

The cult of 'Wellbeing in the Workplace' is not just ineffective, but deeply insulting to anybody who suffers from a mental health complication. Staff don't need meditation and yoga, they need complete business reform. Creating human-focused change requires businesses to acknowledge that the triggers for many mental health complications and for unhappiness are in fact deep-rooted in the very job-roles themselves.

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