Wellness-washing is an intentional or unintentional practice of promoting a wellbeing culture or intervention that has little or no positive impact on wellbeing outcomes. It aims to improve corporate reputation and enhance employer branding with the least effort and investment.
Research finds that only a third of employees deem workplace mental health support good enough, despite employers publicly supporting awareness days and events. Reports of wellbeing washing are rising as employees are increasingly told their wellness is a priority, without the balance sheet investment. More than a third (35 per cent) of businesses are wellbeing washing – the practice of firms supporting mental health publicly but not supporting the workforce internally.
Research conducted by Claro Wellbeing, found seven in 10 (71 per cent) workplaces celebrated mental health awareness days, yet only a third of organisations felt the mental health care from their employer was good or outstanding. In the survey of 1000 employees, Claro found that although 35% of employers celebrate mental health awareness on social media, only 30% felt their employer was actually ‘considerate’ of their individual wellbeing. The study follows a recent analysis by MHR which found three in five employees believed their employer did not care about their mental wellbeing, with more than half feeling pressured to hide their mental health concerns at work.
Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid England Simon Blake highlights the importance of prioritising employees’ mental health. He says, “This recognition was accelerated by Covid and there is much to be celebrated, but the sad reality remains that more needs to be done”.
As a result, only 44% were offered counselling from their employers, 49% were offered a helpline and 39% had access to a mental health first aider.
Andrew Filev, a chief executive, and founder of Wrike, previously told People management it was “critical that organisations set out detailed support strategies”, adding that they must “make mental health a priority” by promoting work-life balance and ensuring employee workloads were manageable. It is crucial that employee wellbeing is embedded in an organisation’s culture. Organisations have a duty to support employees through times of crisis, but poor mental health can also severely affect productivity and performance.
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