Human Resource Management and Employee Wellbeing at Adnams PLC – By Dr. Annilee Game

On 16 June, the Employment Systems and Institutions (ESI) group in NBS hosted a public seminar on HRM and wellbeing by the HR Director at Adnams plc., Sadie Lofthouse.


As workplace health and wellbeing gains increasing prominence in the public policy agenda, HR professionals are uniquely placed to guide the wellbeing strategy in organisations and “drive a systemic approach, including ensuring that senior managers regard it as a priority, and that employee well-being practices are integrated in the organisation’s day-to-day operations.” (CIPD, 2016: 6). Adnams exemplifies these ideas in practice as their Human Resources Director, Sadie Lofthouse explained when she recently shared her experiences of developing an integrated wellbeing strategy for the business.

Based in Southwold, Suffolk, Adnams is an internationally renowned brewer, distiller and retailer employing approximately 450 people across multiple worksites. At Adnams, employee wellbeing is not simply an ‘add-on’ – it permeates every aspect of business operations. In particular, improving employee wellbeing is aligned with core organisational values and goals focused on delivering excellent customer service. Adnams believe physically and mentally healthy employees are better able to improve the customer experience.

Since the early 2000s the HR team at Adnams has led the development of a wellbeing culture in which awareness of workplace wellbeing, and an understanding of the responsibilities for oneself and others that this entails, is deeply embedded into everyday work practices. Culture change has been achieved gradually through implementing training (e.g. mental health awareness) and well-being enhancing opportunities (e.g. running club, yoga, smoking cessation) at all levels of the organisation.

Fundamental to success in changing the culture has been the proactive support of Adnams’ managers. Managers at all levels play a vital role in shaping and maintaining the wellbeing culture – from role modelling work-life balance, to recognising early signs of employee ill-health and managing absence and rehabilitation. Also important is ensuring employee voice – wellbeing is viewed as a collective responsibility at Adnams so employees are encouraged to contribute ideas to shape wellbeing strategies that really work for them.

Sadie cautioned that the job of supporting and enhancing employee wellbeing is never finished – it is important to adopt a ‘continually evolving’ approach to managing wellbeing that is responsive to changing employee and organisational needs. However, supporting employees towards better wellbeing is well worth the investment. Sadie highlighted how a focus on wellbeing had benefited not only individuals but the business as a whole such that Adnams has gained increased employee engagement, better customer experience, increased productivity and an enhanced employer brand.

 About ESI Seminars


The Employment Systems and Institutions group (ESI) in Norwich Business School organises internal (cross-disciplinary) and public seminars as part of its What Works Wellbeing Centre – Work, Learning and Wellbeing evidence programme.  The aim of the seminars is to provide a knowledge sharing forum where staff, students and practitioners can explore issues, research evidence and current practice connected to ‘what works’ in managing and supporting wellbeing in organisations.

For more information about seminars and other events organised by ESI and the What Works Wellbeing Centre visit the ESI website.

With many thanks to Dr. Annilee Game, ESI Research Co-ordinator and Lecturer in OB & Business Ethics for contributing to the NBS Blog.


CIPD (2016) Growing the health and wellbeing agenda: From first steps to full potential. Executive Summary. London: CIPD.

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