Looking after your staff’s health and wellbeing is critical – but you don’t need deep pockets to implement a successful wellbeing programme. Here, CIRAS members share learning and good practice on creating healthy workplaces on a budget.

Arguably, the ‘health’ part of ‘health and safety’ has become a ‘silent partner’, as companies strive to improve safety culture and performance.  But when you dig into the factors that lie behind many safety concerns, common issues emerge - fatigue, stress, distraction, mental wellbeing. Things which are regularly reported to CIRAS.  And they are health issues. 

Over six events in November, 87 members got together to share experiences and ideas for improving workplace health and wellbeing. Government data tells us that 1.3 million workers suffered from work-related ill health in 2016/7, with new cases costing the UK £9.7bn in 2015/6[1]. There seems no doubt that investing in health and wellbeing is likely to reap benefits. However, many of our smaller members simply don’t have dedicated budgets or staff. 

Fortunately, there were plenty of suggestions – and the key is to let staff take the initiative, while creating the conditions for them to pursue their ideas. Here’s some low-cost examples you might be able to use in your own organisation. We’ve used the headings from charity Mind's ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ model which a few of our members use:   

Be active

Members have created lunchtime running clubs, yoga classes, five a side football teams and even a hula hoop challenge. 


Exercising together helps people connect - so does simply setting time aside to spend with staff. At one member, traincare teams felt marginalised, so managers went on the nightshift to get to know them. Social events can also be beneficial and inexpensive.


One member gives staff time off for volunteering. Others have invited colleagues to nominate a charity and organise fundraisers - giving and connecting at the same time.

Take notice

Taking the time to enjoy the ‘here and now’ costs nothing, and CIRAS offers mindfulness resources online. One member created a ‘time out’ room for staff, and another runs a mindfulness fortnight.

Keep learning

Tap into staff's hidden talents, interesting hobbies, useful knowledge. Lunchtime talks get people learning and connecting.  

Another popular option is to access free resources developed by health charities e.g. a Scottish member recommended free ‘workplace wellbeing’ resources provided by Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH). There’s also the Transport Benevolent Fund which provides health and welfare services to transport employees and their families for a small fee.

Finally, don’t forget to think ‘wellbeing’ when developing policies. For example, one member has banned managers from sending staff emails out of hours.  A quick win!

Visit our member portal to download all the speaker presentations from the events.  Contact us at editor@ciras.org.uk if you can’t find your login details.

[1] Excluding long latency illnesses such as cancer.