Employee wellbeing - The People First Culture Series


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At Breathe, we’re always looking for new ways to help SMEs better support their people, to ultimately attain a more productive and engaged workforce. 

So, in this first edition of The People First Culture Series, we set out to address some BIG questions around the state of employee wellbeing and its link to company culture.

In April 2022, we surveyed 1264 employees of SMEs from across the UK and teamed up with Lizzie Benton, Company Culture Coach & Founder of Liberty Mind, to dig into the statistics and explore what it all means from a culture perspective.     

What is the state of wellbeing amongst the employees of SMEs? Have the stresses and strains of the pandemic left a permanent mark in their world of work? Is hybrid working helping or hindering matters? 

As the dust settles from the disruption of the past few years, what wellbeing programmes and initiatives are employees looking for now? And most importantly what does the state of your company culture have to do with it all. 

Read the full report to learn what we discovered, together with some key actionable recommendations around how all of this ties back to the bedrock of attitudes, behaviors and expectations….your company culture and the long term benefits of truly putting your people first within it.  


Summary of employee wellbeing findings and statistics

Presenteeism has long been a problem for businesses, but with the after-effects of a worldwide pandemic, it appears the dial has been turned up a notch with more people now working when ill or stressed.

When participants of our survey were asked why they didn’t take sick leave and were working through illness, the largest proportion of responses was based on culture problems. 32% of people could not financially afford to take time off work, 25% were too busy with their workload, and 21% felt they did not want to let their colleagues down. 

Download the report to learn more about presenteeism & 5 steps to tackle it.

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Working from home has become a new normal for many office-based workers, and for the majority of people, it’s working. Among those SME employees who work from home, 67% say that doing so improves their work-life balance, with 59% declaring that they feel less stressed when working from home.

The data probably doesn’t surprise you, after all, working from home has not only been proven to give people that uninterrupted time of deep focus and productivity, but also supports those with care responsibilities. Whether that’s children or elder care. 

While working from home certainly has high benefits, especially for those who struggle with long-term illness or disability, it’s not without its flaws. From our research, over half (54%) of people who work from home are more likely to work longer hours. 

Download the report to learn more about the benefits and challenges of working from home and 5 steps to enable it.


A year never passes without there being yet another wellbeing trend or fad dominating the workplace. But putting the quirks and gimmicks aside, what do people really want to support their wellbeing at work?

As a business, wellbeing initiatives may not only be costly, but they also take time to implement. This is why when choosing benefits that are going to truly be utilised by your team can feel overwhelming. There are many stories where companies have adopted the latest wellbeing fad, only to realise it was never helpful to their team in the first place.

To get a true picture of what matters to people and their workplace wellbeing, we compiled a list of the most popular wellbeing benefits and asked SME employees if these were what they wanted.

The clear winner among everything that’s currently offered to people, is flexible working. 

Download the report to learn more about the company benefits that employees find most helpful and 5 steps to embed a meaningful wellbeing programme.

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