Wellbeing Washing – Workplace Wellbeing

In recent years, mental health and overall wellbeing have taken centre stage in corporate discussions, acknowledging their crucial role in fostering productive, happy employees. However, an emerging trend titled “Wellbeing Washing” reveals a less sincere side of corporate wellbeing initiatives.

Understanding Wellbeing Washing

Wellbeing washing is characterised by companies showcasing an outward commitment to employee wellbeing through elaborate marketing strategies and public statements, which often don’t translate into meaningful or sustained support for the workforce. This approach can undermine the trust and morale of employees, leading to a disconnect between what is advertised and the reality of the workplace environment.

Evidence of the Issue

The prevalence of wellbeing washing can be seen in the dissonance between corporate declarations and employee experiences. According to a recent report by Reba (2023), one in five employees feels their workplace is guilty of wellbeing washing. This sentiment is especially strong among younger generations such as Gen Z and Millennials, who highly value authenticity and concrete action in wellbeing initiatives.

Further exacerbating this issue, a survey by Mind Share Partners (2020) found that while a vast majority (86%) of respondents believe that company culture should support mental health, only a third felt their workplaces were adequately doing so. This gap indicates a significant amount of superficial commitment to mental health, with little real change being implemented.

Spotting the Signs

Identifying wellbeing washing within a company can be straightforward if you know what signs to look for:

Superficial Campaigns: Frequent, high-visibility initiatives that are temporary or one-off events rather than part of a sustained strategy with follow-through.

Lack of Resources: Programmess that exist in name only, without proper funding, implementation, or access to trained professionals.

Employee Feedback: A clear indicator is the sentiment among employees that their wellbeing is not truly a priority, despite the company’s outward claims.

What Can We Do?

Combatting wellbeing washing requires a proactive approach from both employees and companies:

Demand Transparency: Companies should be clear about the goals and processes of their wellbeing initiatives and provide accurate, measurable outcomes. Transparency in these areas can help hold businesses accountable and ensure that programmes are not just for show.

Seek Genuine Efforts: Support should be given to businesses that invest in comprehensive, evidence-based wellbeing programmes. These should include a network of trained Wellbeing Champions who are genuinely available to assist and support the workforce.

Employee Advocacy: Employees should be encouraged to speak openly about the effectiveness of current wellbeing measures. Regular reviews and refinements of these programmes, based on real employee feedback and needs, are essential for genuine progress.

Top Tip for Employers 01: Ask your employees how they feel or what it is they need rather than assuming or guessing.

Top Tip for Employers 02: Listening but not taking action can create further distrust. Communicate honestly with your employees and inform them what they can expect from you and when.


At zeno, we make sure you always start with a clear wellbeing strategy before implementing anything. 

Our award-winning Discovery Survey enables us to take a pulse check of your organisation, and understand your people’s unique needs through data driven insights before recommending best practice.

We then implement comprehensive, evidence-based programmes with measurable outcomes to ensure genuine, sustained progress.

Find out more.

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