Wellbeing days for large companies: What are they, and how do you run one?

A quick summary:

Here’s something we hear all the time: “We’ve got tons of employees across the UK and have a range of benefits to support their wellbeing. But they’re not working.”

I’ve paraphrased here, but the point is that it doesn’t matter how many benefits you have in place, there’s tons of reasons why they might not be supporting employee wellbeing as much as you want them to. 

One reason is your culture. If your wellbeing benefits aren’t ingrained in your company's culture, then it often falls flat. That’s why we’ve been seeing so many businesses reassess how they approach wellbeing, and start thinking outside of the box.

I could talk all day about the endless possibilities here, but today, we’re going to focus on just one:

Wellbeing days.

You’ve probably heard of wellbeing days, perhaps you even have one - but how do you do a wellbeing day right? That’s what I’m going to answer in this article. But first, what the heck is a wellbeing day?

What the heck is a wellbeing day?!

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here - we’ve written about this before - but here’s a quick overview.

Put simply, a wellbeing day is a day for your employees to focus on themselves. This could be mentally, emotionally, physically - even creatively. It’s all about giving your employees some time for them to do the things that make their brain feel like it’s taken a nice hot bubble bath.

Does a wellbeing day always have to be a whole day?

Calling it a “day” probably gives the wrong impression. Some companies have opted to give a full wellbeing day once a month, or even once a week. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be a full day.

For example, at Heka, we have a wellbeing “day” every Wednesday where we finish a couple hours earlier and are encouraged to do something to support our wellbeing. 

Since the majority of the team works remotely, it’s easy for us. But for huge teams spanning large or even multiple offices, an early finish might not be the best solution. 

Some options for your wellbeing day

Our first option is obvious - give your employees a shorter working day once per week (Pssssst! Wellbeing Wednesdays is great and your employees love shouting about it online with #WellbeingWednesdays).

Alternatively, Fridays are a popular day for early finishes since half the workforce already mentally “checks-out” by 3pm on Fridays anyway. 

The other option is to give your employees a full day for them to focus on their wellbeing. Dropping down to a four day work week is a whole other can of worms, but we’ve seen wellbeing days work successfully once a month. 

Are wellbeing days really that helpful?

According to CIPD, 38% had stress as their top three reasons for workplace absence. And research by Autonomy found that reduced working hours had reduced burnout by 71%. 

Stress and burnout are some of the biggest causes for negative wellbeing and so finding ways to help employees alleviate stress is huge (we even did a webinar on exercises your employees can do to reduce stress and burnout!). Wellbeing days are the perfect way to reduce stress. But there’s other reasons too…

Wellbeing days are a benefit that is very highly attractive to prospective candidates and so having an initiative in place means that it can support your recruitment goals.

In addition, people like it when they feel looked after (who knew!). And that’s exactly what wellbeing days can give to your employees. If they feel supported by you then they’re going to better become advocates for your brand, take less absences, and increase productivity. 

So, how do I run a wellbeing day?

I’ll be honest with you here - every company does things differently, and there’s no one way to run wellbeing days at your business. 

We’ve got tons of ideas in our other article on wellbeing days, from running team building exercises, away days, reduced working hours and more.

But here’s a quick tip. Have a plan. As an idea, pushing for shorter working hours is likely to get some pushback. If that’s the route you want to take with your wellbeing days then you should ensure you have a solid plan in place that is feasible. 

For large businesses, change can take time, but the amount of employees that can benefit from it is twofold. 

But it’s not that easy…

It’s all about leading from the front

New initiatives, especially in the wellbeing space, can be difficult for employees to really engage with. That’s why it’s important to engrain it in your company culture. Wellbeing days are a great way of doing this, but only if senior leaders are getting involved too. 

If you have a wellbeing day with reduced hours but the whole senior team continues working, the majority of employees are going to do the same. You need to lead by example - that’s how you make it part of your culture.

Heka who?

Heka is one of the UK’s most popular benefits, and 97% of employees with access make use of it on the reg. We’re the only benefit out there to focus on Total Wellbeing without all the painful admin. If you’re looking at ways to improve wellbeing at your business, consider booking a demo.

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