Wellbeing as a commercial tactic?

A blog post from always possible CEO, Richard Freeman.

In the March 2023 budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is focusing on ‘getting back to work’. There will be incentives around increased childcare, and support for people who have been off work for a long time with illness, to find routes back in to some employment.

Over 2 million people of working age are currently not able to work due to illness.


Because we’re not effectively looking ourselves, or each other, in the workplace.

What would it look like if we did?

Could wellbeing drive local economies, like manufacturing or house-building have in the past?

I balk at anyone talking about the ‘wellbeing industry’. I know what they mean.

But something in that phrase feels like we’ve missed the point.

Wellbeing is a conscious state of environmental management, behaviour, decisions and interactions that lead to particular levels of mental and physical health.

You can’t just simply buy or sell it?

No. But you can build economies and businesses around it as an underlying principle.

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In the latest episode of The Brighton Paradox, always possible’s 10-part investigation on the opportunities and challenges of Brighton & Hove as a city ecosystem, the focus is on health and wellbeing as a differentiator.

Even formerly headstrong empire builders are slowing down and considering whether fast and rapid endless growth might be a false economy vs an alternative in which staff, customers and systems are nurtured more carefully. We have exclusive interviews with leaders from premier league football, commercial real estate and a global tech startup amongst others.

What is really exciting is when a whole city starts to consider how this could be a regional USP, and how big, small and micro businesses use this to redefine their own contexts. Much like regions of the UK have optimal conditions for manufacturing, growing, professional services or tourism where like attracts like and builds business clusters. What would this look like for health and wellbeing innovators, feeding off of one another’s capacity to capitalise without crashing out?

Having a beach does help, tbh.

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Is it all too complicated?

The recent brilliant discussion paper, ‘The Shared Ingredients for a Wellbeing Economy’ by Liz Zielder from The Centre for Thriving Places pulls apart all of the major economic models of wellbeing and asks – what do they all have in common and how do we simplify it?

So often, strategies get in the way of having a strategy.

Frameworks and indexes for measuring and defining social and economic change rub up against each other, when they look similar but different. It is a nightmare for networks and councils to find and pick a blueprint for anything at the moment – and so can end up doing nothing.

As the paper highlights, ‘We know that carrying on with the status quo – delivering policy and action to support a consumption based economy – is almost always the easier option. It is hard enough to even try to take a different path, so if you are then confronted with what can seem at first glance, to be a rather overwhelming or confusing number of choices of paths to go down, the impetus to change can perish at the table of plenty.’

How does this help individual businesses?

Having a strategy is important. But it needs to be a simple, clear and confident. This will stop the lurch from initiative to initiative or idea to idea.

Companies can easily start to benchmark the impact they have on the wellbeing of those they interact with. Pick a few areas in which your business can have a tangible impact:

–      Social mobility and opportunities for learning and development

–      Accessibility, and equality of experience for all abilities and needs

–      Personal connections and socialisation

–      Safe passage to and from work/home

–      Holidays, breaks and generous packages to support parenting, illness, care, menopause, bereavements

Starting small, and being conscious about what you can do and when, will mean that you can determine what success looks like and how to measure the impact it has.

To figure out what is ambitious but realistic, what’s getting in the way, and what to prioritise – have a chat with our team.