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How to foster positive wellbeing in the workplace

From the switch to remote working and the evolution of hybrid, to the challenging economic climate, the past couple of years have challenged and tested many people’s mental fortitude.

Mental health issues, like any other challenges, do not disappear at the office door. In fact, quite the opposite; if overall wellbeing is not managed well, it can impact colleagues’ productivity, work relationships and general self-esteem. So, it’s clear businesses have a key role to play in supporting its workforces’ wellbeing.

Here we share our advice on some of the key ways employers can work with colleagues to promote and support positive wellbeing in the workplace.


Create a positive company culture

Company culture is the foundation of any organisation, impacting everything from business outcomes to managing and supporting wellbeing. So working with employees to build a culture that values holistic colleague wellbeing that encompasses physical, financial and mental health, is key.

Human connection is a huge part of company culture, and being more socially connected can also be really beneficial for overall wellbeing. As well as encouraging collaboration and opportunities to engage with colleagues across the business, at American Express we have 14 colleague networks which help to foster a sense of community and belonging and bring together people who share common experiences, interests and backgrounds.


Have an open door policy and provide access to resources that can help

When space isn’t created for colleagues to open up and to talk to their manager or other colleagues about challenges they may be facing personally or professionally, that’s when mental health and wellbeing can deteriorate. Raising awareness around the importance of mental health and wellbeing and encouraging discussion to proactively challenge this are important.

As part of this, businesses should encourage managers to connect regularly with colleagues to check-in and see how they’re doing. This is especially important for those working remotely, as it can be harder to detect if they’re struggling. By putting in time to connect with them, this can create a safe space for them to raise any issues they have. Companies could also offer external resources that could provide help. For example, developing programs that connect colleagues to in-network mental health care professionals. At American Express our industry-leading Healthy Minds programme offers colleagues and their household members a personalized mental health concierge service, which includes easier access to a high-quality network of licensed counsellors.


Encourage a positive work life balance

Prolonged pressure and a poor work life balance can lead to stress and burnout, reducing levels of morale, productivity, and performance. To help foster a healthy work life balance, employers and managers will notice the benefits when they encourage staff to take breaks when they need time and space to decompress and enable flexibility to respond to changing work as well as life demands.

Flexible working, in terms of working time, location or the pattern of working, can help support healthier and more productive ways of working for staff. For example, whether working virtually, in the office, or a mix of both, Amex Flex provides flexibility for colleagues to thrive both personally and professionally by supporting colleagues’ varied lifestyles and commitments.


Lead by example

Colleagues take cues from leaders. If leaders are unable to demonstrate their commitment to mental wellbeing, it risks contributing to the stigma that already surrounds the subject – so creating a positive and supportive working environment has to start from the top. 

As part of this, it’s important for business leaders to model healthy behaviours, for example by publicly prioritising self-care and healthy habits. When a leader speaks out about mental health it can have a huge impact. If they feel comfortable sharing their own mental health stories or passion for wellbeing, this can help support a culture of openness that filters through the rest of the organisation. 

Providing leaders with mental health training focused on helping them understand the spectrum of mental health and to enhance their own well-being, while they support the well-being of their team members can be enormously beneficial. At American Express we also provide all colleagues with training and a variety of resources to help them connect with and understand their mental health and strategies for coping.


Ultimately, organisations and leaders should ask themselves the question: “How can we support the overall wellbeing of our people so that they can be at their best?” Those that do will foster a stronger culture, improving productivity and performance – enabling them to provide a better experience for their customers.




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