Ben Taylor

UK Mental Well-being Consultant


Improve your corporate culture for mental well-being: a compact framework


Ben Taylor

UK Mental Well-being Consultant


Ben Taylor

UK Mental Well-being Consultant

The cultural web model is one of the most popular models for corporate culture. We’ll introduce it in a bit and we explain how to use it for mental well-being. As a bonus – we’ll give you ten questions that management and HR can ask themselves to evaluate the state of their workplace mental well-being support.

Mental well-being is an ongoing topic

Mental well-being in the workplace is more topical than ever. As a result, a growing number of organisations are implementing employee well-being solutions - which is fantastic.

At the same time, it’s important to realise that mental well-being in the workplace goes beyond implementing a solution. The topic should be ingrained into your corporate culture. It’s an ongoing process that needs conscious and continuous attention. So, reflect regularly on your approach, your culture and your employees’ needs for the best results.

The cultural web model explained

How do you reflect on your corporate culture in practice? How do you know whether your culture is healthy, safe, and supportive? And if it’s not, how do you create it?

The cultural web model helps you to understand the current culture and define a way forward. It looks like this:

The model explained

The paradigm: what it’s like to work here from an employee’s perspective.

Stories: the words or the narrative that you and your employees use to describe the company, its past and its future. It includes the company’s core values.

Rituals and routines: the actions and behaviours that are deemed acceptable within the company. This includes what employees can expect from the company too.

Symbols: the company’s branding, such as logos, office appearance, dress code, campaigns, etc.

Organisation structures: consisting of the written and unwritten structures. The first is the organisational chart. The unwritten structure is less clear but can be quite tangible. It’s about the influence of different people, beyond their formal position.

Control systems: how control is exerted. Also called performance management. Think of bonuses, quality control, tracking of financial performance, etc.

Power structures: who has the greatest say. For example, the CEO, the board, or the management team.


How to use the cultural web model

Using the cultural web model is quite simple. Write down, for all elements, where your organisation currently stands. Then describe the culture you’d like the organisation to have. Compare the two versions. Reflect on how the seven elements of the model influence mental well-being. What’s going well and what needs improvement? This is best done by involving the leadership team and employees.

Ten questions to better understand your culture’s influence on well-being

Schedule regular meetings with leadership and employees to reflect on the company culture. The following ten questions – that fit within the cultural web model – may help you with this.

  1. What’s the general mood in the workplace? Are there any common mental well-being issues or challenges? (The paradigm)
  2. What solutions, support and guidance do we have in place to support people with their well-being challenges (such as OpenUp)? Should we do more? Are employees able to find them and use them? (Rituals and routines)
  3. How do we act when someone shows inappropriate behaviour? (Rituals and routines)
  4. To what extent is mental well-being a topic of conversation? Do employees feel comfortable discussing it? (Rituals and routines)
  5. To what extent is mental well-being part of our corporate narrative, both internal and external? (Stories)
  6. What hierarchy – both formal and informal – dominates in the workplace? How does this influence people’s mental well-being? (Organisational structure)
  7. Is the team structure optimal for employee mental well-being? (Organisational structure)
  8. What role does the leadership team play in our employees’ well-being? (Power structure)
  9. How do we use the prevailing hierarchy or power structure to increase mental well-being? That is, are there people who lead by example? (Organisational structure; power structures)
  10. How do we encourage employees to engage with their mental well-being on a regular basis, preferably in a proactive and preventative way? (Control systems)

Creating a culture that supports mental well-being takes time

Improving corporate culture takes time, despite how straightforward this model is. But you’ve got to start somewhere - so start with this framework, and see your company culture flourish as a result. OpenUp psychologists are also here to help improve your entire workforce’s mental well-being - get in touch to explore this further.