How to move the needle on wellbeing in the workplace

First published as a LinkedIn article during Mental Health Awareness Week: 27 September – 3 October, 2021.

This Mental Health Awareness Week we sat down with our founder, Jaime Gallocher, to get her two cents on wellbeing in the workplace and how to foster it.

Jaime recommends businesses focus on the Five Ways to Wellbeing as a framework to genuinely look after people, which in turn drives employee engagement, retention and a sense of community.

We hear some businesses talk about wellbeing like it’s a concept that you can tick off with yoga, meditation and eating bowls of free bliss balls!

But wellbeing is so much more than working yourself into the ground and then just taking the edge off with yoga. It’s about long-term sustainable change, creating positive habits, maintaining perspective, and leading by example.

Thankfully, we’ve seen a real shift in the last 18 months to understanding and valuing true wellbeing.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of evidence-based mental health messages that can be applied to improving the wellbeing of everyone. Here are some practical ways to introduce Giving, Activities, Learning, Connection and Taking Notice into your business.

Five Ways to Wellbeing framework: Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand


Purpose feeds into wellbeing. We know that people need to feel they’re working for more than just a salary in order to feel satisfied, and this is especially true for our younger folk. Organise days out of the office where you volunteer together as an organisation. You could clean up a beach through Sustainable Coastlines, or cook a meal for families at Ronald McDonald House. Another way to approach this kaupapa is to encourage your people to work with a cause that resonates with them and provide time off when it suits.

Be active

Prioritise the health and wellness of your people, but steer clear from ableist messaging such as: “Sit less, move more”. Opt for more inclusive messages like “Be active your way” and “Unplug and play”.

We’ve all had the benefits of routines hammered into us, but just like rules, routines are made to to be broken. Give your people a surprise afternoon off, or even better, do it every week all summer 🌞

Keep learning

As humans we’re hard-wired to get satisfaction from taking on challenges and becoming masterful in a new area. Without challenge and learning woven into the fabric of our lives we run the risk of languishing and getting stuck in a rut. Give your people opportunities to grow and develop: you could offer te reo Māori lessons or start a library of business/self-development books where the titles are requested by employees and then purchased. Go out and ask your people what they want to learn and let that guide what you offer, within the constraints of your budget.

Another way to foster learning is to cultivate space for dreaming and passion projects. Allow your people the time and space to be creative, dream or work on something that sits outside of their day-to-day tasks and KPIs.


Communicate regularly and authentically with your organisation. Choose a method of communication that feels right for you and keep up the cadence. Get input from your communications team but let it be your true voice that people can hear. The thing to remember here is that real is better than perfect.

Listen to your people and be curious. Run an employee satisfaction survey and make impactful change with the results. Ask for feedback about your organisation’s culture so it’s constantly evolving 🌈

Take notice

Reward success and celebrate milestones. If someone has a win, take the time to congratulate and thank them in person. These aren’t groundbreaking initiatives, but in our ‘culture of busy’ they can be overlooked to the detriment of employee satisfaction.

The People Project Virtual Care Package

Our Virtual Care Package for employers during COVID-19

UPDATE: The resources below have been updated since changes were made to the Wage Subsidy Scheme for employers.

The Government’s efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus using a four stage Covid-19 alert system mean big changes for employees and businesses. We know that this will be an uncertain and stressful time for NZ business, and you’ll be thinking about what you need to do as an employer. If you’re concerned about the impact on your business, we can help. Our contact details are at the bottom of this page.

We have curated the key resources and ideas you’ll need to keep your team safe, informed, and connected. Think of the below as a Virtual Care Package. Handpicked information and resources that you can provide to your team, or send on to any other leaders and business owners who may appreciate it.

As People and Culture Consultants, we aren’t medical experts – but we do specialise in keeping your team ticking. There is an information overload currently with so much news coverage being shared. It can be overwhelming for you and your team to navigate.

Here is our pick of good sources of information, all in one place.

COVID-19: Information for businesses

This page brings together government information relating to COVID-19, how it may affect your business and how you can stay up to date as new information becomes available. After the announcement that NZ is moving to Alert Level 4, the business support package will be modified in response to the changing needs of NZ businesses. Details of this package will be available here as soon as they are confirmed.

Unite Against COVID-19 for Employers

This NZ Government website has everything you need to know about COVID-19 in one place. Learn the steps you can take to unite against the virus and slow its spread. Find out what help is available and get the latest updates. 

Workplace response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

General guidance for managing scenarios in the workplace, like what to do if you need to change an employee’s working arrangements, and accessing the government’s wage subsidy and leave payment schemes. Updated information on managing employees during a “lockdown” period will be updated here.

UPDATE: As of 3pm Friday 27 March 2020, the previous separate sick leave payment scheme has been folded into the Wage Subsidy Scheme. The original sick leave scheme was designed when few people were in self-isolation. The Government is working on arrangements for those in essential work who require sick leave due to COVID-19.

For help understanding how the Subsidy works, check out the link below. The details of the support options will be updated as they change:
Details about the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme works

Apply for the Subsidy through Work and Income

Once you’ve learned about the financial support on offer, this is where you can apply to receive it through Work and Income. This form is for employers to fill out on behalf of their business.

Mental Health Foundation’s Top Tips to Get Through

It’s a bit tense out there in the world, and the more we can do to be kind to each other and ourselves the better. See the Mental Health Foundation’s advice for wellbeing during the pandemic, and forward it along to anyone you know who is having to self-isolate or is feeling anxious about it.

We know it’s hard to know the right thing to do sometimes when people’s wellbeing is impacted. If you need advice on how to promote wellbeing in uncertain times for your team, or support a specific issue for a team member, we can help. You can always talk it through with us if you’re unsure, our contact details are at the bottom of this page.

Ideas to stay connected while practicing physical distancing

Don’t underestimate the impact on your team’s wellbeing working remotely. We are choosing to refer to it as “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” – because we can still stay social at a distance! Here are some ideas to keep your team social and connected:

  • Create a dedicated instant messenger channel for socialising – and get posting! Pictures of people’s working space at home, their pets and kids keeping them company, and memes are a good way to kick it off
  • Provide a how-to document for using your online meeting of choice so that all team members are able to participate easily
  • Schedule a recurring daily “lunch time” online meeting for home workers so you can still enjoy lunch together
  • Organise daily check ins where possible, either via phone, 1:1 and as a team
  • Do the daily Stuff quiz together
  • Allocate 5 minutes at the end of meetings to discuss something non-COVID-19 related, something positive or interesting
  • Have Friday afternoon drinks together via online meeting
  • If you have the resources, send a physical care package to your team’s home addresses

Article: Why do we need to practice physical distancing?

A great Washington Post article providing the best explanation of how “social distancing” works and why it is essential that we practice it now. Includes some handy simulations demonstrating it visually, this is a great way to show anyone who is unsure why this is the recommended approach to keep us safe.

Planning your next move

In these uncertain times, we understand you may be worried about how it will affect you and your team. If your business is impacted we can support you through change and/or restructuring, and help you make the best decisions for your people. Get in touch if you need guidance on accessing the Wage Subsidy and Leave Payments, managing sickness and leave, working from home, and wellbeing.

You can reach out to Jaime, Bronwyn or Anna directly through our Contact Us enquiry form,
call on 021 165 5955, or email us at

Feb 2020: Team Breakfast

One month in to the New Year,  and what better way to celebrate the great start to 2020 with a team breakfast at Dear Jervois. 

Welcome to our new People and Culture Consultant: Anna Long-McLean

What better way to kick off the new year, than with a new addition to our team!

Introducing our new People & Culture Consultant, Anna Stesia Long-McLean.

Anna joins us with experience from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and more recently working in HR Consulting, specialising in advising and supporting SME businesses on a national scale.

Anna’s strengths are in Employment Relations, Mediation, Claims, Change Management and Compliance. Anna loves understanding what makes people tick, not to mention her fresh, flex and humble approach to work and life.

Welcome to The People Project Anna!

Winter Wellness: 5 Achievable Tips You Will Actually Use

Don’t let Winter get you down!

Check out our realistic wellbeing tips . With less daylight and being cooped up inside, its more important than ever to take care of your mental and physical wellbeing.

We have gathered some sage advice which covers all areas of your wellbeing – and doesn’t require a huge amount of effort on your part.