Making your wellbeing strategy inclusive

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Making your wellbeing strategy inclusive

83% of Gen Z job seekers feel that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer. In addition, inclusive teams are 35% more productive, according to a McKinsey report from 2020.

We believe that fostering an inclusive culture is an important part of any employee wellbeing strategy. But what does inclusivity mean and how can organisations make their wellbeing initiatives more inclusive? We recently held an online panel discussion, with a group of HR and business leaders, to explore their views on this and we’ve summarised some of the key takeaways from this talk below.  

Why inclusion matters

Inclusion isn’t just about checking a box — it’s a fundamental aspect of a comprehensive wellbeing strategy. Our panel of experts, including Caroline Lake, a diversity and inclusion consultant, Khushboo Patel, Head of Engagement and Inclusion at Metro Bank, and Jenny Hinds, Director of the Clear Company, each emphasised the vital link between feeling thought about and included and overall wellbeing.

Inclusion fosters a sense of belonging, positively impacting mental and physical health, motivation, engagement, and performance in the workplace. By integrating inclusion into your wellbeing strategy, you not only create a more supportive work environment, but also set your organisation up to better align with diversity goals and bring a wider variety of approaches and ideas.

So what specific elements of inclusion are important to consider in workplace wellbeing support?

Financial stress

Financial stress is a significant concern, especially for younger employees. Studies have shown that financial pressure is a leading cause of stress, particularly for those aged between 25 and 34. Employees from lower-income households are also at a higher risk of developing mental health problems due to financial constraints.

To address this, organisations can empower employees by providing financial education, expertise, tools to track financial wellbeing, and financial wellbeing coaches. Leaders play a crucial role in supporting employees by signposting appropriate resources, ultimately helping employees navigate financial stress and improve their overall wellbeing.

Mental health stigma

Participants emphasised the importance of breaking the silence around mental health and other sensitive issues. For some employees, the main work of support comes in from reducing the stigma of asking for support, by encouraging open conversations with managers and leaders. The panel as a whole agreed that education plays a key role in challenging stigmas also discussed the balance of promoting support, whilst being respectful of the employee’s own ways of addressing their issues. Participants also stressed the importance of inclusive language, having diverse mental health champions, and creating safe spaces for men to share their experiences and concerns.

Navigating neurodiversity

Neurodiversity in the workplace spans a wide spectrum, ranging from significantly impacting an employee to just slightly, making it a complex area to address. Each employee’s needs should be thought about individually and no two people have the exact same neurodiverse challenges. Neurodiversity initiatives should focus on education, workplace adjustments, and creating an open dialogue to normalise conversations around neurodiversity at work. Providing resources, guidance, and flexible working options, tailored to neurodivergent employees, can significantly impact their ability to thrive in the workplace and contribute positively to their mental health.

Supporting LGBTQ+ employees

LGBTQ+ employees face specific challenges that necessitate targeted support, with half of LGBTQ+ people (52%) experiencing depression in the last year, highlighting the urgency of creating a safe and inclusive workplace for these employees. Creating an inclusive and supportive environment involves educating staff, implementing policies that prevent discrimination, offering mental health support, and promoting LGBTQ+ awareness and allyship internally. It was also noted that having events where people can contribute anonymously can be an effective and safe way to encourage participation.

Internal support

Individuals with lived experiences should be encouraged to bring wellbeing initiatives and ideas to their organisation for areas of support that resonate with them. Those struggles with specific issues are often best placed to identify effective support and these people should be recognised as ‘subject matter experts’. Utilising their insights can significantly enhance the effectiveness and relevance of wellbeing programs and boost inclusivity of groups within the organisation.

Final thoughts

Integrating inclusion into your wellbeing strategy isn’t just an ethical choice—it’s a strategic one that positively impacts employees and the organisation as a whole. Fostering an inclusive culture enables organisations to create a workplace where all employees feel supported, valued, and empowered to achieve their full potential. By placing inclusion at the heart of your wellbeing strategy, you not only improve employee satisfaction and engagement, but also drive innovation and overall business success.