The reality of physical and mental wellbeing in Australian workplaces is concerning, with mental illness in the workplace costing the economy over $17.4 billion per year. Employees are burnt out, stressed and finding dissatisfaction in their employment. 90% believe mental health is an important issue for businesses, yet only 50% believe their workplace is mentally healthy.  

Absent days, presenteeism, and the rise of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity can all be reduced through the inclusion of wellbeing programs and behavioural changes in the workplace. We know the benefits of physical activity for the body, including improving strength and fitness and maintaining a healthy body weight, but the benefits to work output, improved cognition, increased work satisfaction and building team cohesion are also valued benefits.   

Wellbeing programs including physical activity, mindfulness and nutritional education can benefit workplaces in terms of health improvements, mental wellbeing and work-related outcomes.  


Long hours spent at the desk has accounted for large imbalances between energy intake and physical activity. We are not moving enough, possibly contributing to the obesity epidemic and risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. When we put ourselves at these health risks, we shorten our life expectancy, reduce our quality of life and put ourselves at risk of other health conditions such as loss of eyesight, hypertension and strokes.  

Health and wellbeing programs including exercise classes and physical activity challenges increase the step count of employees, fitness levels (oxygen consumption) and body measures such as BMI, fasting glucose, cholesterol and lipid levels, all reducing the risk of diabetes and other health conditions significantly.  

Individuals in the workplace are at high risk of poor nutrition, due to convenience of food outlets, being time poor, and lack of nutritional literacy. Poor food choices have a higher energy (calorie) content, so by consuming these options, whilst reducing our energy expenditure through exercise, we increase our chances of weight gain, and risks associated with this including diabetes, increase lipids and cholesterols. 

The workplace has been found to be an optimal setting for nutritional education and practice, improving nutritional choices and therefore health status. Increased fruit and vegetable intake, reduced alcohol and caffeine consumption and creating a more balanced diet, as a result of workshopping and education, whilst integrating this with physical activity resources increases self-efficacy, allowing for individuals to reach health goals.  


Mental and physical wellbeing is strongly influenced by mental, social and emotional factors, impacting our quality of life and life satisfaction.   

In studies evaluating the effectiveness of physical activity wellbeing programs, positive changes were found in quality of life, mood, reduced sick days, significantly lower perception of job stress and significantly higher job satisfaction.  

By improving quality of life through wellbeing programs, productivity increases by decreasing the risk of burnout, cynicism around tasks and emotional exhaustion. As a result job stressors such as questioning capabilities and resources reduces, increasing job satisfaction, appreciation for work, career development, creating dynamic and supportive colleagues and supportive working conditions.  

Mindfulness programs remind employees that time for self-nourishment is an important part of the workday, not just reserved for when there is time.  

Work-related outcomes  

Higher perceived wellbeing leads to higher performing teams with employees taking fewer sick days, increasing productivity, sparking creativity, enhancing problem solving skills and building resilience when coping with uncertainty.   

Inclusion of mindfulness in wellbeing programs helps to self-regulate attention, shifting focus to the present allowing for better attention, fewer distractions to outside stimuli and a reduction in mistakes.   

In a post-COVID environment where we are mindful about our health, wellbeing programs in the workplace can be used as a tool to encourage employees to return to a face-to-face model of working. It’s about having a purpose for going into the office, especially when individuals are facing not only the stress of work, but also personal stressors.  

Things to consider  

Wellbeing programs delivered inside working hours, rather than outside had greater effects on body measurements such as BMI, waist circumference, lipid and cholesterol levels, fitness levels and greater perceived job satisfaction and reduced job stress.  

 Outsourcing intervention, delivered by qualified professionals increases weight loss and physical activity behaviours, rather than internally organised programs by employees.  

The health, wellbeing and work-related benefits of wellbeing programs in the workplace are numerous. Employee satisfaction, productivity, health and wellbeing can all be improved and maintained through health and wellbeing programs that specifically target physical and mental health, nutritional education and rest and recovery.  


Conn, V. S., Hafdahl, A. R., Cooper, P. S., Brown, L. M., & Lusk, S. L. (2009). Meta-analysis of workplace physical activity interventions. American journal of preventive medicine, 37(4), 330-339. 

Nielsen, K., Nielsen, M. B., Ogbonnaya, C., Känsälä, M., Saari, E., & Isaksson, K. (2017). Workplace resources to improve both employee well-being and performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Work & Stress, 31(2), 101-120. 

Anand Keller, P., Lehmann, D. R., & Milligan, K. J. (2009). Effectiveness of corporate well-being programs: A meta-analysis. Journal of Macromarketing, 29(3), 279-302. 

Vonderlin, R., Biermann, M., Bohus, M., & Lyssenko, L. (2020). Mindfulness-based programs in the workplace: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Mindfulness, 11(7), 1579-1598. 

Rachmah, Q., Martiana, T., Mulyono, Paskarini, I., Dwiyanti, E., Widajati, N., … & Alayyannur, P. A. (2022). The effectiveness of nutrition and health intervention in workplace setting: A systematic review. Journal of Public Health Research, 11(1), jphr-2021. 

Ready to implement a wellbeing program with tangible benefits for everyone involved?