LGBT inclusion blog series: focus on wellbeing

By Melanie Green, Research Adviser at the CIPD.

Employee wellbeing has been high on the list of priorities for organisations and people professionals alike in the past year. According to data reported in our People Profession in 2020 research, 65% of business stakeholders and 68% of people professionals saying employee health and wellbeing was a top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

And, our Health and Wellbeing at work 2021 survey found that, of organisations who have taken additional measures to support wellbeing during COVID-19, 83% have providing more support tailored to individual needs, like flexible work. This is undoubtedly positive, and indicates that organisations are doing more to understand and adapt to the unique wellbeing needs of each employee. 

LGBT+ workers face particular wellbeing challenges at work 

That being said, our report Inclusion at work: perspectives on LGBT+ working lives highlights that LGBT+ workers report poorer wellbeing outcomes than their heterosexual colleagues, meaning that organisations need to do more to identify, understand and rectify these wellbeing challenges.  

Particularly, we found that: 

  • LGB+ and trans employees are less likely to say that work has a positive impact on their health (35% and 26% respectively) than heterosexual, cisgender employees (38%) 
  • Both LGB+ and trans employees are less likely to say they are satisfied with their lives; 50% of trans employees said they were satisfied with their lives, compared to 63% of LGB+ employees and 66% of heterosexual employees 
  • LGB+ employees report more work-life conflict than heterosexual employees, with 33% saying they experience significant work-life conflict compared to 25% of heterosexual employees (these questions were not included in the bespoke trans employee survey that features in this report)  
  • Almost half of trans workers (47%) said the COVID-19 has a strong effect on their daily mood and 43% said it has a strong impact on their wellbeing at work- these figures were slightly higher for those planning to transition or in the process of transitioning. 

These figures show that, as well as being aware of, and providing support for, challenges specific to LGBT+ workers, particularly during the pandemic where isolation and lack of normal support networks are affecting us all, we need to look at the wider workplace context when thinking about LGBT+ workplace wellbeing. 

We also explored other aspects of LGBT+ working lives and found that LGBT+ employees experience more workplace conflict and lower levels of psychological safety than heterosexual and cisgender colleagues. In other words. Organisations must look at their wider policies and practices and sure their workplaces are inclusive, allow everyone to feel safe and don’t tolerate harassment 

Recommendations for practice 

With our research identifying key issues for LGBT+ wellbeing at work, we need to take targeted action. People professionals have a key role to play here in auditing current people management practices and working with colleagues throughout their organisations to create more inclusive workplaces. This could include: 

  • Review wellbeing strategies through an inclusion lens. This includes policies, specific benefits (for example, if you offer private medical as a benefit, is that trans inclusive?) 
  • What can employee wellbeing data tell you about LGBT+ employee wellbeing data at your workplace? If you have relevant data available, analyse the differences between demographic groups or engage with LGBT networks to highlight additional support that might be needed or pinpoint existing issues. 
  • Supporting line managers to support their team. Having open and honest conversations is important, as everyone’s’ circumstances are different.  Our research also highlights that trans specific line manager support is often lacking in organisations, so it’s important to make sure there are resources and information available to line managers  

Finally, beyond these targeted actions, it’s important to look at the bigger picture in your organisation; is there an inclusive, safe culture? Policy change will only go so far to enhance LGBT+ employees do not feel safe in their workplace. Our Building Inclusive Workplaces report talks more about inclusive cultures and the accompanying inclusion health checker tool can be used to make a start in understanding inclusion at your workplace. 


This blog is the first in a series that will explore the key issues and recommendations for people professions from our report Inclusion at work: perspectives on LGBT+ working lives. 

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