Unmasking the ‘Dark Side’ of Corporate Wellbeing: The Unsettling Reality of Wellbeing Washing

In the era of mindfulness apps, instagram advice and increasing focus on mental health, the concept of "wellbeing" has become a buzzword, a symbol of a company's commitment to the holistic health of its employees. However, beneath the glossy surface lies a phenomenon called "wellbeing washing" – a practice where organisations appear to prioritise employee wellbeing, but the reality for employees feels very different.

Source: Gallup

So what are the Signs of Wellbeing Washing?

    • Mislabelling Support: Often organizations engage in superficial initiatives that give the appearance of a commitment to wellbeing to help bolster their external image. ‘Perk based washing’ includes hosting occasional yoga sessions, providing meditation apps, decorating the office with motivational quotes or supplying free snacks. While these actions may boost the company's image, and morale in the moment, they often lack substance and fail to address the root causes of stress and burnout.
    • Unrealistic Expectations: Wellbeing washing often coexists with toxic work cultures. Employees are bombarded with messages about the importance of self-care while being subjected to unrealistic expectations, long hours, and a lack of work-life balance. The imbalance between rhetoric and reality can lead to increased stress, resentment and frustration. 
    • Ticking the Boxes: Some companies implement wellbeing policies as mere tokens, ticking boxes to meet industry standards or appear progressive. These policies may include posting about mental health days, but in practice, employees may fear using them due to a stigma surrounding mental health issues or concerns about repercussions.
    • Lack of Psychological Safety: This is a big topic that we focus on in our MomentCo Program. Wellbeing washing often thrives in environments where psychological safety is lacking. Employees may be hesitant to speak up about their struggles for fear of being perceived as weak or incapable. Having a third party, like MomentCo ask the tough questions helps employees feel that they have a safe place to speak up and to be heard. 

The Impact on Employees and the Bottom Line:

Over time, wellbeing washing takes a toll on employees' morale and therefore productivity.  The contrast between promise and reality erodes trust, i.e., perception, contributes to a culture of disengagement, poor communication and ultimately high staff-turnover.  This has a huge human and business toll that hits the bottom line. 

Recent Gallup studies showed that employees who felt their employer cared about their well-being scored highly for retention, engagement and happiness. 

Source: Gallup

Where Moments fit in:

MomentCo is committed to more than just surface-level wellbeing. We believe in fostering a culture where employees feel valued, supported, and heard. This involves genuine efforts to address the root causes of stress, promoting work-life balance, and building an environment where psychological safety is a priority.  

We do this through a framework of personal and professional development, 1:1 coaching and performance workshops all underpinned by robust measurement and insights on how teams REALLY feel about how they are being supported. 

In Conclusion:

The phenomenon of wellbeing washing is a wake-up call for organisations to reevaluate their commitment to employee wellbeing. It's not enough to paint a rosy picture; actions must align with words. 

At MomentCo, we believe that true wellbeing goes beyond superficial gestures – it's about creating an authentic workplace where everyone can thrive. 

We know it’s not easy - fortune favours the bold!

Contact us for more information on the impact of the MomentCo Performance & Wellbeing Program

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