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What is employee wellbeing?

It's feeling well at work (mentally, emotionally and physically), and it really matters

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The three types of employee wellbeingHow should we measure employee wellbeing? What’s the opposite of employee wellbeing?How can we improve employee wellbeing? 

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It’s often touted as the answer to some ethereal business question, but in real terms, employee wellbeing means feeling well at work. Mentally, physically and emotionally well. And that touches every part of every business. 

The three types of employee wellbeing

🧠 Mental wellbeing

Having the resilience to cope with challenges as they arise and feeling generally positive about ourselves and others. 

💪 Physical wellbeing

Feeling able to fully switch off from work and getting enough sleep, rest and exercise to feel energised and alert

💙 Emotional wellbeing

Being able to recognise and process your own feelings – and communicate your needs and boundaries effectively with other people. 


Unsurprisingly, feeling well at work is closely linked to performance. Concentration, productivity, innovation and retention all suffer if people don’t feel well enough to engage in the work they’re doing day-to-day. Employees might seem distracted, tired, irritable or just less interested in their job. 

How should we measure employee wellbeing? 

If you’re not measuring your team’s happiness or wellbeing yet, then there’s no better time to start. Getting an idea of your ‘baseline’ through data is key to being able to take action sooner when your company mood looks a bit wobbly. A regular wellbeing survey will also help you to recognise the impact that different wellbeing initiatives have on your business.

Spill lets you take the pulse of your team's wellbeing every week, and points those in need towards mental health support

What’s the opposite of employee wellbeing?

Not paying enough attention to your team’s wellbeing could put them at risk of poor mental health or burnout. “Languishing” is a term for everybody who isn’t experiencing acute mental health issues, but who also isn’t exactly thriving, either. You might feel like you aren’t functioning very well, but you’re not sure why. And it’s a bit of a vicious cycle. If you’re languishing, your mind is using up energy trying to get you back on an even keel.

A lack of employee wellbeing can cause a downward flow spiral

That means there’s less processing power available to focus on your usual tasks or to reach a deep ‘flow state’ of productive work. And languishing people make up a massive 55% of your workforce at any time. It’s the exact reason we believe in the little and often approach to wellbeing – there’s really no reason to wait for people to reach breaking point. 

How can we improve employee wellbeing? 

There are plenty of sensible reasons to invest in employee wellbeing. Increased productivity and retention all provide a pretty sound business case. But the biggest reason, if you ask us, is that it’s just good for people. From the intern to the boss, every single person in your company could benefit from a thoughtful wellbeing initiative or two. And free beers on a Friday just aren’t enough to make a real difference to your company culture. At Spill, we think there are 5 areas you should focus on to boost your team’s wellbeing in a meaningful way.

The 5 pillars of employee wellbeing

  • Give people space
  • Give people safety
  • Give people autonomy
  • Give people goals
  • Give people support

Read more about these 5 wellbeing pillars, or check out our big list of ideas to improve employee wellbeing.  

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Spill lets you take the pulse of your team's wellbeing every week, and points those in need towards mental health support

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