SFG7: Good health and wellbeing

Why is this important? Copy link

Did you know? 87% of start-up employees said that working at a start-up had negatively impacted their mental health at some point.


  • This is an important topic for all organisations but especially for start-ups: the demands, challenges and risks that come with running a small business can bring personal pressures and impact on health and wellbeing, at a time where your people are your greatest assets.
  • Health and wellbeing starts at the heart of the company’s leadership style and culture. While many employers have rolled out initiatives like mental health days or weeks, four-day workweeks, and mental health benefits or apps, they’re not enough. Employees need and expect sustainable and mentally healthy workplaces, which requires taking on the real work of culture change.
  • A lot of mental health issues are related to leadership, so watching out for negative or toxic behaviours and hiring will have a huge role to play.
  • Cultural change can then be supplemented by a top employee benefits package, which will benefit the business in many ways, be it employee retention, reduced stress and sickness absences, increased productivity and enhanced overall employee experience and team culture.

Where to start Copy link

Beyond statutory compliance with health and safety standards (health and safety policies, fire equipment and signage, site risk assessment, first aiders and more) and mandatory annual and sick leave (as per your geography), there are a range of employee perks and benefits that can be rolled out to support employee health and wellbeing.

To deliver the maximum value for money, your best bet is to ask employees directly what they want and to weigh it up with what your organisation can afford. The good news is that not all perks and benefits come at a price.

Pre-seed/seed Copy link

  • Ensure your team is looking after themselves and help build boundaries

Series A Copy link

  • Ensure strong internal communications to reduce unknowns and uncertainty and making sure there are open channels for communication where employees feel they are being heard
  • Create a culture where employees can work flexibly if they need to
  • Organise team socials and support employee-run clubs e.g. running club, book club
  • Consider including private health insurance, access to digital healthcare services and childcare vouchers in employee package

Series B and beyond Copy link

  • No investment:
    • Offer flexible hours and opportunities to work remotely
    • Employee-run clubs e.g. running club, book club
    • Leverage national awareness days such as “World Mental Health Day” (Global)
    • Ensure strong internal communications to reduce unknowns and uncertainty and making sure there are open channels for communication where employees feel they are being heard
  • Small investments:
    • Office snacks, team lunches and socials
    • Gym membership discounts
    • Corporate subscription to Headspace
  • Larger investments:
    • Health insurance package including employee assistance programme
    • Childcare vouchers or preferential childcare arrangements.

Other actions:

  • Ensure there is a dedicated space for different needs including breastfeeding, prayer or meditation.
  • Invest in ergonomically sound equipment, such as chairs, standing desks and other accessories. Consider offering them to employees for their home office set-up
  • Roll out an employee wellbeing programme. Many platforms offer cost-effective ways of doing that, such as Lifesum, Heka, BetterSpace or GoVida.

Data collection Copy link

Measure employee net promoter score (eNPS): eNPS is a metric used to measure employee engagement, satisfaction and loyalty towards a business. Monthly or quarterly reporting can help you get your finger on the pulse of employee satisfaction. eNPS surveys can be easily run through employee feedback platforms such as Workday Peakon.

Useful resources and further reading Copy link

Examples and testimonials Copy link

Voi launched its ‘Wellbeing Champion Programme’, whereby employees volunteer to drive awareness and organise various initiatives to promote wellbeing and mental health. Since the inception of the programme, Voi has welcomed external ‘experts’ who have held presentations and fireside chats on topics ranging from stress management, to efficiency, to focus. To encourage physical activity, which is directly linked to mental wellbeing, two global ‘moving challenges’ have been held as well. At the Stockholm headquarters, Voi employees take part in breathing sessions twice a week, which are broadcasted digitally for all employees globally to partake in.

Zego has made therapeutic coaching available to all their staff, working with an external provider to offer a wide range of supporting combining coaching and therapy. Zego covers the cost of twelve sessions a year for people to use however they like, from learning to be better at public speaking to talking about more personal things like relationships.

Tibber invites its employees to a 30-day challenge once a year to provide an opportunity to reflect on what change means and leading by example to inspire others to change. Employees chose their focus, from digital detox, to mediation, exercising, to not eating any meat or not buying unnecessary stuff.

"This really is about taking our own medicine. Tibber exists to help people adopt more sustainable practices. This 30-day challenge helps raise awareness among staff of the importance of looking after themselves and making meaningful change towards a more sustainable collective future. And it's a lot of fun. It fills up our slack channels with photos from home, and makes us more connected as a team and as humans." Hanne Hove, Head of Sustainability at Tibber.

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