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Finding the sweet spot: Balancing productivity and employee wellbeing


The rise of modern HR tools, often heralded as the “age of productivity,” has propelled us into an era where productivity and well-being are intricately intertwined.

Employees can now work more efficiently and accomplish more, whether from their office or home, thanks to these advancements. However, in a chaotic and unpredictable year like 2020, marked by unprecedented levels of disruption and stress, HR and business leaders must reassess the balance between productivity and employee well-being. Productivity and well-being go hand in hand, but they can also hinder each other. Those who feel emotionally and psychologically well have the headspace to be productive, while those facing mental well-being challenges may encounter productivity hurdles. 

In the latest edition of Let’s Talk, our experts delve into strategies for achieving the optimal balance between productivity and mental well-being in the workplace.

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David Price, CEO at Employsure

David Price, CEO at Employsure

“Productivity and wellbeing are inherently linked. Burnout leads to worse work quality, greater absenteeism, poorer productivity and, in worst-case scenarios, high turnover.

“Pinball machines and Friday drinks alone aren’t enough to improve employee wellbeing and productivity. Check in on your workers regularly and ask how they are feeling – an effective way to do this is through an anonymous survey.

“Focus on discovering whether people are burnt out and, if they are, why they are. What about the role or work environment is causing stress? How can these negative factors be negated? In what ways can better support be provided?

“Unfair treatment, unreasonable deadlines, unmanageable workloads, micromanagement, poor communication, and a lack of support are all contributors to burnout that damage productivity.

“A common mistake companies make is gathering insights but not acting on them. Asking for suggestions and not following through with what your workforce want, and need, leads to distrust and disengagement.

“Create an environment for employees that supports work-life balance, promotes the value of rest, and rewards a job well done. Recognition boosts motivation and encourages people to perform better.

“Employers that fail to balance productivity and wellbeing will see adverse business outcomes as a result.”

Roxanne Calder, Founder of EST10 and author of ‘Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future’

Roxanne Calder, Founder of EST10 and author of ‘Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future’

“At first, the reports were almost unanimous, pointing to the direct correlation between employee wellbeing and higher productivity. Now, it’s a delicate balance. Here is how to best achieve employee wellbeing and productivity.

Performance reviews. Design reviews to reengineer processes, capture improvements, refine goals, and provide recognition. Regular reviews create feedback environments that prove invaluable for productivity. They also create opportunities to connect further to understand exactly how your employee is feeling.

Training. Skills development is much needed in today’s environment. It increases business efficiency as well as efficacy and confidence with your employees.

Follow-ups. No matter how time-poor, leaving ‘people to it’ results in rework, with time management implications and negative customer experience. Plus, it adds undue stress for your employees.

Gratitude begets gratitude. The workplace has been tough and continues to be for everyone. Appreciation goes a long way toward engagement, motivation, trust, and an overall sense of wellbeing, all of which are essential for productivity.”

Lauren Anderson, Talent Strategy Advisor and DEIB Expert at Indeed

Lauren Anderson, Talent Strategy Advisor and DEIB Expert at Indeed

“Prioritising employee wellbeing is essential for any organisation seeking to foster healthy, productive, and high-performing teams. Indeed’s research shows that when workers are happy and supported to thrive, they’re more likely to focus on the positives, bounce back quickly from challenges and setbacks, and benefit from stronger relationships with colleagues. They’re also likely to be more engaged and productive in their work.

“However, many organisations still have a way to go when it comes to supporting workers to thrive. Less than a quarter (23%) of Australians are thriving at work, and nearly half (46%) have experienced stress and burnout in their current role.

“The good news is there are clear focus areas for employers looking to invest in wellbeing. Almost half of workers (49%) said greater work-life balance would improve their sense of wellbeing, while 42% would like employee recognition/appreciation programs, and 41% want clear and open communication from leadership.

“Prioritising employee wellbeing is not just a nice-to-do but a strategic move that will help drive long-term success. Employers who listen to the needs of their staff and actively work to create an environment where staff feel valued, supported, and able to thrive will in turn benefit from greater engagement and productivity.”

Chris Christofi, Founder and CEO of Reventon Group

Chris Christofi, Founder and CEO of Reventon Group

“Leading with empathy and focusing on employee well-being are key to fostering a successful organisational culture. Recognising the significant time that employees spend at work, often more than with family, it’s crucial to create a supportive and enjoyable environment. Such a setting not only enhances productivity but also directly contributes to profitability.

“At our organisation, we prioritise mental and emotional health. To support this, we offer each employee an additional “Self-care day” every quarter, allowing them time to rest and rejuvenate. Additionally, we provide free mental health care sessions for all staff, emphasising our dedication to their well-being.

“Our approach goes beyond implementing initiatives; it reflects our genuine intent to support our team. We actively engage with team members and invest in their welfare, demonstrating our commitment through actions, not just words. This focus on creating a positive work environment benefits not only our employees but also enhances our service to clients, establishing a truly effective and caring team.

“By leading with the right intentions and nurturing a culture of care, we not only achieve organizational goals but also build a resilient and motivated workforce.”

Tony Maguire, Regional Director, ANZ at D2L

Tony Maguire, Regional Director, ANZ at D2L

“Balancing employee wellbeing with productivity is challenging for organisations. Aligning employee needs with organisational goals is key to success, as high turnover is costly both financially and culturally. Losing institutional knowledge during recruitment and onboarding disrupts productivity and morale. This also increases workloads for remaining team members, risking burnout and more turnover.

“According to independent research by recruiter Robert Half, 49 per cent of Australian employers say employees have asked for professional development opportunities in their current role and 81 per cent of employers say reskilling improves their team’s productivity.

“Improving employee engagement, through training and professional development, not only fosters career growth for employees, but is essential for employee wellbeing. A proactive approach to training can be supported and delivered through tailored learning management systems (LMS), where employers can build training programs suited to their organisation’s skills gaps and business needs.

“A LMS allows for regular feedback and open communication channels, which build a sense of belonging and value among employees, leading to a more resilient and productive workforce too.

“By prioritising employee wellbeing alongside productivity, organisations can reduce turnover costs and establish themselves as employers of choice.”

Michelle Mowle, Global Head of Talent & Culture at Pureprofile

Michelle Mowle, Global Head of Talent & Culture at Pureprofile

“At Pureprofile, our organisational culture is rooted in the belief that employee well-being and productivity are the cornerstones of sustainable success. We recognise that when well-being is prioritised, productivity naturally thrives.

“To ensure our teams feel supported, safe, and secure, we offer a comprehensive range of well-being initiatives. Embracing a globally-minded approach to flexibility through our Globetrotters Program, we empower team members to work from any location worldwide for up to three months. This initiative fosters personal growth and allows our team to prioritise family and exploration without compromising their careers.

“At the heart of our well-being strategy lies the promotion of positive mental and emotional wellness. In 2023, Pureprofile introduced an innovative therapy support program as an alternative to traditional Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). This empowers our team to select mental health providers that best suit their needs. As part of our comprehensive leave package, we provide Purelife Days, allowing our team members additional leave options to manage personal matters or participate in activities that support their well-being.

“A fulfilled and supported workforce not only enhances productivity but also cultivates resilience in the face of challenges. At Pureprofile, we are committed to nurturing a workplace where our team members can thrive both personally and professionally.”

Matt Loop, VP and Head of Asia at Rippling

Matt Loop, VP and Head of Asia at Rippling

“Amidst strenuous market conditions, most businesses are finding themselves needing to do more with less. However, as business leaders, it’s important to take a step back and assess if additional demands on your employees are proving counter productive, with potential burnout damaging overall productivity.

“It’s a delicate balance and even the most experienced leaders are still fine-tuning. Particularly in a hybrid working era where the traditional boundaries of an office are increasingly blurred and ‘business hours’ stretch across global time zones.

“A key to striking the balance between wellbeing and productivity is investing in tools that can reduce the burden of administrative tasks on your workforce. By automating routine tasks like data entry, scheduling, and reporting, leaders can free up their employees’ time, allowing them to focus on more strategic and valuable work. In parallel this also significantly reduces the chances of human error occuring and can help to alleviate stress among employees worrying about making mistakes carrying out mundane tasks.”

Dara Simkin, Founder and Play Pioneer at Culture Hero

Dara Simkin, Founder and Play Pioneer at Culture Hero

“Intentionally designed opportunities to play at work can help to right the balance between wellbeing and productivity. While play might sound like the opposite of work, the opposite of play is actually depression.

“Play engages employees and improves mental wellness because when we laugh and play, our brain releases a cocktail of feel-good hormones. A DOSE of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins – helping us feel more bonded to those around us, calmer, happier and energised.

“We need opportunities for play at work to help our people reconnect, gain perspective and recharge. Research from The LEGO Foundation has found play helps prevent burnout and stress, and has a re-energising effect. Put simply, play makes work psychologically sustainable.

“As we all know, happy, engaged employees are more productive and have higher job satisfaction. When play is brought into a workplace, people feel stronger connections with colleagues, less stressed, and ultimately more productive. Play is the glue that binds wellbeing and productivity together.

“When play is intentional and when leaders give permission to play, and model play behaviour themselves, employees can begin to unwind and be more themselves — inevitably positively affecting their mental health and wellbeing.”

Sarah Ettershank, Director of People and Talent at Airwallex

Sarah Ettershank, Director of People and Talent at Airwallex

“It’s no secret that employee wellbeing is essential to any thriving business. It’s a two-way street – happy employees are more engaged, which leads to improved performance and higher levels of commitment and loyalty.

“When it comes to boosting employee wellbeing, employers need to practice what they preach. It’s not enough to have it written in policies; the best leaders are proactively boosting wellbeing in the workplace.

“For us at Airwallex, this means putting flexibility back into the hands of employees rather than creating a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We recognise and value the opportunity for our teams to come together for greater connectedness and belonging, yet recognise people have varying commitments and preferences. We empower our employees to choose which three days in office will suit them best.

“Likewise, every permanent employee in Australia is given a $250 wellbeing allowance every quarter. It can be used on anything from a massage, to pilates classes, a physio appointment or contribution to your health insurance, or even a donation to your favourite charity. We believe it’s incredibly important to recharge and carve out time to do something for you and this serves as a quarterly reminder to do just that.

“We also offer a comprehensive wellness program for not just employees but also their immediate family members, which can assist with monitoring and addressing wellbeing, as well as offering support in other areas such as career development.”

Beni Sia, GM and SVP, Veeam APJ

Beni Sia, GM and SVP, Veeam APJ

“There is an undeniable link between employee wellbeing and productivity, as happy employees are more likely to be efficient. Therefore, leaders should prioritise nurturing a culture that encourages employees to find a healthy balance.

“Businesses can do so by investing in personal growth and wellbeing initiatives. For example, Veeam provides employees with access to a range of resources, from employee resource groups and networking platforms to mentorship programs. Most recently, we launched the Women in Green Elevate program, aimed at empowering mid-career women with a structured pathway to support them in advancing their careers. Together, these initiatives ensure we provide employees with the wellbeing support they need to perform and thrive in their careers.

“With employee wellbeing playing a crucial role in productivity, investments in wellbeing initiatives should be seen as a driver of company performance, rather than a hindrance or additional cost.”

Tanith Jones, Head of People Operations at Gallagher Bassett

Tanith Jones, Head of People Operations at Gallagher Bassett

“At Gallagher Bassett, we understand that prioritising the wellbeing of our workforce is not only essential for their personal happiness but also for driving productivity and success. By offering comprehensive wellness programs and benefits, we create an environment where our employees feel supported, empowered, and motivated to give their best every day.

“Recently, we introduced an industry-leading mental health and wellbeing program. This program goes beyond simply addressing the needs of our employees; it is designed to enhance their overall wellbeing and create a supportive environment where they can thrive both personally and professionally.

“One of the key benefits of the program is the provision of ongoing confidential counselling services. We recognise that employees may face personal, family, or work-related challenges that can impact their wellbeing and productivity. By offering access to professional counselling, employees have invaluable support to help them navigate these challenges and find balance.

“In addition to counselling services, our employees benefit from monthly mindfulness webinars, specialised leadership resources, and a dedicated wellbeing app. These resources are carefully curated to provide tools and strategies for managing stress, improving mental clarity, and fostering a positive work-life balance.”

Elise Balsillie, Head of Thryv Australia

Elise Balsillie, Head of Thryv Australia

“Companies who offer flexibility and a healthy work-life balance are winning with talent – both in retaining employees and attracting new ones.

“With the rapidly evolving business landscape and the rising cost of living, prioritising employee health and wellbeing has never been more important.

“Work plays such a significant role in our lives. Being able to strike the right balance is key to employee mental health and productivity.

“Here are some suggestions to achieve balance:

Allow your staff to work remotely, if possible. Remote working is a post-pandemic expectation for employees and offering a work-from-anywhere option will allow employees to be the best they can be with the flexibility to work from any location across Australia, regardless of their role.

If you offer remote work, nurture a strong culture by holding regular social events both online and in-person, and make sure managers check in on their employees regularly.

Consider offering leave and personal benefits beyond normal requirements with a goal of helping employees strike a healthy work-life balance. Research from Warwick University finds happiness makes people more productive at work.

Creating initiatives like a Health and Wellbeing Committee help employees maintain a voice in how they’d like to approach corporate wellbeing programmes and have a direct hand in how they are implemented.

“With people at the heart of any business, investing in people and supporting employee health and wellbeing should be a big priority for businesses in 2024.”

Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and Founder at Newxel

Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and Founder at Newxel

“Finding the balance between employee well-being and productivity is both an art and a discipline. As a CEO, I’ve come to realize that well-being is not just about offering comfort; it’s about fostering an environment where employees feel valued and appreciated. The Dalai Lama once said, “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” This rings true in the workplace. When employees feel appreciated, it elevates their emotional state, leading to enhanced productivity.

“However, balance is crucial. Offering too much comfort can lead to oversaturation, where the appreciation that fosters productivity is taken for granted. It’s important to ensure that employees don’t just expect benefits, but genuinely value them. Understanding the emotional state of your team is key. As the old saying goes, “A spoon is dear when the lunch is near.” This implies that the timing and context of your support are just as important as the support itself.

“Financially, companies have different capabilities, and the range of well-being options should reflect both market standards and specific employee needs. Whether it’s a gym in the office or regular team-building activities, the focus should be on aligning with what truly matters to your team, ensuring that their well-being contributes to a thriving, productive workplace.”

Filipa Bellette, Founder of Chris & Filly Functional Medicine and author of ‘Ending Body Burnout’

Filipa Bellette, Founder of Chris & Filly Functional Medicine and author of ‘Ending Body Burnout

“Today’s hustle culture – go-go-go, do more, push to the end – sells the story that productivity and wellbeing cannot co-exist. But this cannot be further from the truth. Your employees are not robots. When wellbeing suffers, reduced productivity is the inevitable outcome.  So how can you help your employees find balance between the two? First, it’s up to you to be the leader and prioritise your own wellbeing. It’s difficult to create a company culture if you’re not practising what you preach. Take micro breaks every 30 minutes to stretch or do some mini-moves. Stick to snack and lunch time breaks, and get outside in the sun to eat. Then create a culture that prioritises your employees’ wellbeing, where it’s safe to listen to the body. You could foster wellbeing by providing healthy snacks instead of lollies, herbal teas instead of coffee, and even measure employees’ wellbeing KPI’s like hours of sleep, alongside work KPI’s.”

Laura Burgess, Analyst at Capterra

Laura Burgess, Analyst at Capterra

“Various factors of job satisfaction contribute to a productive workplace, including flexible work hours or location, as well as recognition and reward —all of which impact employee wellbeing.

Capterra’s 2024 State of Collaboration and Productivity Survey found that Australian employees rate both work-life balance and company culture at their current jobs an average of seven out of ten. Both factors are essential for international companies with teams collaborating with overseas colleagues. Employees may have late-night/early-morning meetings, which could strain their work-home symmetry and time management.

“Our survey found that 60% of Australians collaborate with coworkers in another country at least once a month. Over half (51%) said there is a maximum time difference of three to six hours with their overseas coworkers with whom they regularly work. This can make it hard to meet deadlines and could impact efficiency.

“Senior leaders must establish guidelines for working hours, consider time differences and allow flexibility with deadlines. If, for example, an employee has an evening call with a coworker residing in another country, then allow them to log on later the next day. Implementing steps like these at international companies can help manage employee work-life balance better, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.”

Brett Newstead, Director of Sales, ANZ at Zebra Technologies

Brett Newstead, Director of Sales, ANZ at Zebra Technologies

“Optimising resources and retaining top talent is imperative as Australian businesses seek to improve productivity and adapt to changing market conditions. Modernisation of the technology they use combined with proven purpose-built equipment that simplifies workflows and empowers frontline workers are key drivers for success in both.

“By emphasising usability, minimising cognitive load, and enabling unified communications organisations can create collaborative and empowering environments where their employees can thrive and grow. Implementation and change management are also key considerations to enhance user adoption, drive overall success and foster the positive work culture that prioritises employee satisfaction and mental health.”

Mollie Eckersley, Head of Operations, BrightHR ANZ

Mollie Eckersley, Head of Operations, BrightHR ANZ

“As a business owner or employer, it’s important to ensure there’s no trade-off between employee wellbeing and productivity. The two are so interconnected that it’s counterproductive to sacrifice wellbeing for the sake of higher productivity.

“Employee disengagement costs Australia’s economy $2 billion a year. Research has also revealed a strong correlation between wellbeing and productivity. If your business is driven solely by hitting productivity targets at the cost of staff wellbeing, the result could be employee burnout and high turnover in the long term.

“The balance you need to strike between employee wellbeing and productivity is clear. A workplace culture that encourages healthy behaviours and uplifts employee wellbeing will enjoy consistently good outcomes. But the advantages of encouraging healthy employee wellbeing go beyond that to include higher staff loyalty, resilience, and retention.

“It’s also important to note the multiple ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing outcomes. Employee benefits like discounts and staff perks platforms, learning courses that help them grow their skills, and consistently recognising great work can transform your work culture for the better.”

Gavin Debono, Executive Director at Pitcher Partners Melbourne

Gavin Debono, Executive Director at Pitcher Partners Melbourne

“Productivity is a strategic concern across companies of all sizes, but for smaller businesses it can be a matter of survival in a competitive marketplace.

“While unlocking productivity gains should always be a strategic focus, it shouldn’t come at the expense of employee wellbeing.

“The productivity focus instead needs to be on working smarter, not harder, particularly when it comes to people-heavy sectors such as the service industry.

“When your team is working at its peak, your gains are capped and the answer isn’t to push them harder, which can have the opposite effect on productivity.

“Consider strategies and build systems, processes and technology around your people to help them work smarter and more effectively.

“Productivity concerns may relate to how well employees can juggle various tasks efficiently and collaborate effectively within a smaller team.

“Build a culture of innovation and encourage fresh thinking. Innovations don’t have to be ground-breaking – they just have to help your people do more with less.”

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner at Owen Hodge Lawyers

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner at Owen Hodge Lawyers

“Wellbeing and productivity at work don’t have an inverse relationship. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. When you invest in employee wellbeing it boosts productivity, instead of hindering it.

“The key is to focus on initiatives that have a genuine impact, not just those that tick a box. Don’t just offer “perks”: Things like free snacks or a ping pong table are nice but don’t address fundamental causes of stress or burnout which in turn impact productivity. Prioritise actions that tackle deep-rooted workplace issues.

“Survey employees to find out what they think contributes to their wellbeing and what support they need. Design initiatives based on their feedback, not assumptions.

“Embed wellbeing into work design. Consider how job roles, workflow, and expectations can themselves either reduce or increase stress or productivity. Restructure as needed.

“Train and equip managers to spot signs of burnout, have supportive conversations, and balance workloads effectively. Wellbeing is part of their role, not just HR’s.

“Ensure wellbeing initiatives don’t let managers off the hook for dealing with issues like unfair workloads, lack of support, or a toxic work culture.

“Enshrine wellbeing initiatives in policies and contracts to demonstrate commitment and see that commitment through.”

Lisa Sarago, CEO at Land On Heart

Lisa Sarago, CEO at Land On Heart

“Over the more recent years, employee wellbeing has opened its charter to include inclusivity in a real way. For Indigenous people, we further talk about cultural safety. Cultural safety is so important to the wellbeing of Indigenous employees. It enables their ability to bring their authentic selves to the workplace. There is enough evidence now to support this claim.

“The enhancement of employees’ psychological and cultural safety will lead to productive workplaces. When employees feel safe, when they are freely able to be their authentic selves, they can provide honest feedback and insights into work products and services which often leads to innovation. Innovation is necessary for competitiveness in the competitive economy today. Cultural safety and employee wellbeing also leads to lower rates of turnover and absenteeism. Both of these are costly to the organisation, as well as directly linked to lower levels of productivity. Therefore, employee wellbeing LEADS to productivity. There are many ways in which to achieve inclusivity and cultural safety of indigenous employees. Land on Heart works closely with organisations to create these spaces. In today’s global economy, to remain competitive, incorporation of the world’s oldest, living culture into products and services is a unique opportunity which should be encouraged. Should we be looking for a “balance” or should we be focused on employee wellbeing.”

Michael Rosenbaum, Founder and CEO at Spacer

Michael Rosenbaum, Founder and CEO at Spacer

“It’s important to establish a corporate culture that harmonises employee wellbeing with productivity and recognise that both are integral to success. At Spacer, we prioritise initiatives that foster a healthy work-life balance, including flexible scheduling and remote work options. By investing in resources we demonstrate our commitment to supporting our team’s physical and mental health. Simultaneously, we understand the importance of productivity in achieving our corporate objectives. Through clear communication, goal alignment, and a collaborative environment, we empower our employees to excel while respecting their personal boundaries. By striking this equilibrium, Spacer ensures not only the sustained success of our business but also the satisfaction and engagement of our workforce, driving innovation and fostering a culture of excellence.”

Trena Blair, CEO of FD Global Connections

Trena Blair, CEO of FD Global Connections

“In a recent global study by Gympass of 5,000 full-time employees, an overwhelming 96% expressed a preference for companies that prioritise well-being when considering potential employers. Despite calls for greater work-life balance, there’s a counter-narrative advocating for longer hours for success, exemplified by high-profile figures like Elon Musk.

“This approach has garnered criticism for its potential to lead to workplace trauma and burnout. However, it also suggests that, despite progress, some top executives view employee well-being as a barrier to corporate productivity and profitability.

“The question arises: Can employee well-being and productivity go hand in hand? Research suggests companies neglecting employee well-being face long-term costs such as attrition, absenteeism, and insurance claims, costing millions annually.

“Nurturing a culture prioritising employee health can mitigate these risks and yield positive outcomes like reduced absenteeism. Yet, there’s a need to balance productivity and well-being. Flexible schedules, support for healthy lifestyles, and leveraging health tech and AI can optimise productivity and well-being without compromising.

“By reevaluating productivity metrics and utilising technology to manage health risks, companies can achieve profitability while ensuring employee well-being—a crucial step towards building sustainable businesses in today’s dynamic landscape.”

Danielle Owen Whitford, CEO at Pioneera

Danielle Owen Whitford, CEO at Pioneera

“Wellbeing is the DRIVER of productivity.

“Our data, research with our partner the University of Sydney, and 6 years of conversations with customers have made this abundantly clear.  We call this Positive Productivity.

“To achieve Positive Productivity companies must:

Define productivity differently: Productivity needs to be measured based on the quality output an individual and team is contributing to an organisation. Outdated measures of productivity rely on people doing more, which has no bearing on quality or value. Change the measure.

Educate your organisation on positive productivity: Coach leaders to understand that wellbeing is not a nice to have, it’s essential to productivity. And give them the tools to do it.

Using the right data: Measure team achievements using technology like our Coach Indie to understand real-time well-being and productivity. Data-driven and actionable insights help your leaders make better decisions.

Leading by Example: Executive, risk and HR teams should be focused on positive productivity as a measure of wellbeing and effectiveness. Plus it’s a great ESG measure.

“Making the trade off between wellbeing and productivity will never help your organisation or team thrive. Only when you bring them together will you achieve both. Now that is Positive Productivity.”

Peta Sigley, CEO and Co-Founder at Springfox

Peta Sigley, CEO and Co-Founder at Springfox

“Organisational success hinges on employee wellbeing. Having worked with countless businesses over the last 20 years, I’ve learnt that successful, high-performing companies have one key factor in common and that is a culture that consciously prioritises and invests in the wellbeing of its people.

“In other words, to increase productivity, leaders must first invest in wellbeing. This starts with first looking at existing systems and ways of working to identify what’s working and what isn’t. Are staff struggling with excessive workloads and a lack of work-life balance? Are there counterproductive dynamics within the team? Identifying and addressing potential risk factors can help mitigate against stress, overwhelm, and burnout, which are often barriers to productivity.

“Prioritising wellbeing also requires leaders to create a psychologically safe environment where people are comfortable to ask for help, take risks and share ideas without fear of being reprimanded. It requires building a culture of high trust and compassion, where employees feel seen and valued for who they are. When employees are supported both personally and professionally, productivity follows.”

Stewart Cameron, Managing Partner at Hicksons Lawyers

Stewart Cameron, Managing Partner at Hicksons Lawyers

“The balance between employee wellbeing and productivity occurs once you put people first.

“A supportive work environment is important, including providing regular support, an inclusive culture and meaningful work. By tailoring your business offering to what each employee values, you’re better able to improve employee wellbeing, and as a result, work productivity.

“Whether this is by personalising work arrangements, your leadership style or implementing wellbeing initiatives, employees are going to be most productive when they feel valued and supported.

“I believe employee wellbeing is directly linked to productivity – people are most productive when they are happy and empowered at work. Dr Richard Chambers (Clinical psychologist) recently presented at a conference where he shared some research on the benefits of productivity by reducing multi-tasking and distractions.

“The best organisations are able to prioritise relationships with employees, understand their ‘why’ and support them in being able to achieve their best for the business.

“Having said that, I am a true believer in making sure we have interests outside of work and are actively engaging in them. Nothing motivates me more than completing a task on time, so that I can then go out and enjoy the other personal things I love.”

Nikki Williams, Founder of Mentwell

Nikki Williams, Founder of Mentwell

“In today’s fast-paced work environment, striking a harmonious balance between employee wellbeing and productivity is paramount, and Mentwell, Australia’s pioneering mental health and wellness gift card service, is at the forefront of this endeavour. Recognising the intrinsic connection between a healthy mind and enhanced productivity, Mentwell offers a unique solution that prioritises the mental and emotional wellness of employees. By providing access to a diverse array of wellness experiences, from mindfulness workshops, Allied Health, GPs, dentists, and classic healthcare services, Mentwell also offers services such as psychology, and all things wellness from yoga to spa treatments. Mentwell empowers individuals to proactively nurture their mental health. This innovative approach not only fosters a supportive work culture but also cultivates a more engaged and motivated workforce. Moreover, by investing in the well-being of employees, organisations can effectively reduce absenteeism, enhance job satisfaction, and boost overall productivity. Mentwell’s commitment to promoting holistic well-being serves as a beacon of inspiration, ushering in a new era where employee welfare takes precedence alongside organisational success.”

Yasinta Widjojo, Marketing Manager at Pin Payments

Yasinta Widjojo, Marketing Manager at Pin Payments

“Employee wellbeing is widely talked about, but it also ebbs and flows according to what’s happening in our lives. As a new parent, I know firsthand perspectives and priorities change, and that can make achieving a balance difficult. And while work is still important, finding a new rhythm is vital. These days I focus on what I can realistically achieve, and anything that’s a ‘nice to have’ is scrapped. I’ve found planning a week ahead is essential to maintaining a balance between productivity and wellbeing. But parenthood changes you in profound ways and some days it’s just about finding small wins, like meaningful connections with colleagues, and accepting that other things might have to wait. A crucial lesson I’ve learned about wellbeing in the last year is the importance of carving out time for myself. Even brief moments of quiet reflection, like my commute to work, or being outdoors away from screens, significantly improve my focus and productivity. My advice to other new working parents is to prioritise your recovery – physical, mental, and emotional. This is rarely discussed, but it’s key to functioning well in both your personal and professional life.”

Dean Anderson​​​​, CEO at Leading Teams

Dean Anderson​​​​, CEO at Leading Teams

“Do you remember sitting on a seesaw in the playground as a kid? The fun that was had laughing with your friend, or sibling, as you went up and down in perfect rhythm.  But then of course there were also those times when you and your seesaw companion were different in size – and one of you would uncomfortably shoot up into the air or alternatively land on the ground with a thud.

“The seesaw analogy reminds me of the need to find perfect balance between employee wellbeing and productivity, and how good it can feel once achieved. As leaders we must prioritise and offer wellbeing support for our staff, and our teams, while also challenging them to reach their potential, resulting in enhanced productivity and general mechanical output.

“The answer to finding the right balance may be simpler than we realise. When staff are supported and their wellbeing is prioritised through an investment of time, care and energy, they’re often willing to go the extra yard and exceed expectations. Finding this balance will always depend on the strength of professional relationships within a workplace. Without adequate communication and strong relationships, it can’t be achieved. By prioritising professional relationships with your staff, the balance will come naturally.”

JP Tucker, Co-Founder of Optidan AI

JP Tucker, Co-Founder of Optidan AI

“In an era where burnout is rampant, organisations must re-evaluate their strategies. Wellbeing and productivity are not opposing forces; they are synergistic. When employees are healthy and content, their productivity naturally increases, resulting in a win-win situation for everyone involved.

“Innovative businesses are adopting measures like flexible scheduling, remote work options, and wellness programs. These initiatives not only enhance employee satisfaction but also attract top talent. They reflect a company culture that values and invests in its workforce, which, in turn, cultivates a loyal and productive team.

“Even small changes can have a substantial impact on morale and efficiency. It’s about understanding that behind every task, every project, and every email is a person whose wellbeing affects—and is affected by—their work.

“Embrace the challenge of finding balance. When companies invest in the health and happiness of their employees, the return is immeasurable. Optidan AI believes that an equilibrium between wellbeing and productivity isn’t just possible—it’s the future of work.

Scott Brown, Head of Employee Experience at Logicalis Australia

Scott Brown, Head of Employee Experience at Logicalis Australia

“Employee wellbeing has become front-of-mind for employers, particularly with the current skills shortages and focus on mental health. This has changed the employee value proposition (EVP) from being about specific benefits, such as a coffee machine or fancy office, to being focused more on company values and culture. Company values must be reflected in the everyday experience of employees and ingrained in processes, policies, benefits, and behaviours.

“But why does this matter?

“Because employees don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t have a company culture based on mutual values, or worse for a company where the culture has turned toxic with too much focus on profits and productivity and not enough on employees themselves.

“Employees are looking for benefits and experiences from a business that will help them grow, both personally and professionally, in exchange for their skills and expertise. Ultimately, the more the culture of an organisation helps the employee thrive, the more the employee will put more effort into their work, leading to increased productivity.

“It’s a two-way street for organisations – what you give out in terms of EVP and culture, you’ll receive from employees in the form of dedication and work ethic.”

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