An organisational psychology approach to workplace well-being

Posted on 14 Mar

What is workplace well-being, and why is it important?

As Psychologists, when we talk about well-being in the workplace, we ‘re not just talking about a general feeling of happiness or contentment. We’re really interested in understanding the various components of well-being to allow us to best assess, facilitate, and actively develop well-being within a business. In addition to alluding to the presence of positive emotions (e.g., contentment, happiness) together with a lack of the negative (e.g., anxiety, pessimism); people experiencing well-being at work tend to have relationships that are supportive or caring, engagement and absorption in their tasks, a sense of meaning or purpose, as well feelings of accomplishment or mastery in their work.

Workplace well-being has time and time again been linked with increased performance, as well as retention. In other words, people who feel a positive sense of well-being in their jobs are more likely to work well, and to stay with that organisation.


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people and businesses are continuing to face unique and evolving challenges around the ways in which we work. As we face these new challenges, many people have experienced a reduction in well-being, and more people are finding themselves burnt-out and exhausted. Due to this, well-being in the workplace is becoming a hot topic. But well-being at work as an issue is not new.

A few key challenges to workplace well-being are long-standing and need to be addressed if we are to move toward real advancement These challenges are:

  • A lack of focus on prevention or the protective role of an organisation’s culture or climate
  • Lack of early intervention and management of at-risk employees
  • The commonly held view that well-being in the workplace is just a ‘nice to have’ extra

The key here is that the well-being of an individual shouldn’t have to fall apart before anyone pays attention. From the moment people step foot in the virtual or physical workplace door (or even think about it!), organisations should be working actively to ensure the development and maintenance of positive well-being among their workforces. So, how can we do this?

Build relationships

People are more likely to obtain strong relationships with people at work and feel supported by their co-workers and managers if their relationships with those people are regularly maintained and strengthened through shared experiences and common goals. Leaders are in a unique position to encourage a work culture that allows this to occur.


Help people find meaning in their work

To help ensure people attach an adequate sense of meaning or purpose to what they’re doing, a vision of success should be decided upon and/or contributed to by those tasked with reaching it, and people need to feel that they receive adequate recognition and performance feedback as they work toward those goals.

Make sure work is engaging to those who are doing it

People are more likely to be engaged with their work if their job tasks align with their personal preferences and abilities, if they have sufficient opportunities for change or special projects that allow them to feel challenged in a way that aligns with their capabilities and preferences for ways of working, and if leadership sets a positive example of engagement, encourages creativity, and listens proactively to peoples’ ideas and concerns.


Support people in achieving a sense of accomplishment

To help people gain a sense of accomplishment or mastery in their work, create a space in which they have the capacity to excel, support them in the development of their knowledge, skills, and career, and empower people to make decisions around their role and how best to achieve their professional goals.


Well-being tips for leaders

As a leader, you play a vital role in facilitating work-related well-being among your workforces. Organising social events and shared experiences among staff is a great way you can assist in encouraging relationship building. You can help people find meaning in their work through involving them in the development of work-related goals, and through acknowledging their efforts and achievements. Your employees will feel most engaged when they are adequately challenged by their work and have opportunities to expand their responsibilities in a way that interests and re-focuses them. To this end, engage in on-going discussions with your employees around their tasks, preferences, and goals. Finally, ensure that the work environment allows those who work for you to feel empowered and to achieve their goals. People are unlikely to feel an adequate sense of accomplishment where there are structural roadblocks inhibiting their capacity to achieve or to develop professionally.

How we can help

Understanding how your employees feel, and how they perceive the climate in which they work is the key to developing approaches for improvement. Psychological assessments and organisational diagnostics such as climate surveys, interviews, focus groups, and 360-degree feedback assessments can enable you to obtain pertinent data and gain this valuable insight into the people and culture of your organisation.

Following collaborative development of diagnostic tools specific to your business, People Solutions can ensure you extract maximum value from those diagnostics by providing detailed reports and verbal feedback around the findings, as well as specific recommendations for change targeted at findings linked to the well-being outcomes of your people.


Contact People Solutions

For over 20 years, our team at People Solutions have been dedicated to supporting businesses through Organisational Development initiatives aimed at improving both organisational and individual outcomes. Our directors and consultants have worked with leaders across many key industries and are excited to share their wealth of experience with you.

If you’d like to make a move toward active well-being initiatives within your business, please get in touch to find out how we can help.


By Katie Troy

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