May 10, 2018

The overlooked ingredient key to building successful wellbeing programs


A successful wellbeing program is not just equal parts gym membership, healthy cafeteria food and screenings. In order for wellbeing to take off and be baked into the culture of your organization, there’s one oft-overlooked ingredient that is critical for sustainability: management.

Managers play a strategic role in not only spreading awareness of benefits and wellbeing programs, but also, enhancing and preserving the overall corporate culture in which wellbeing becomes integrated or not. Too often, companies underestimate the role managers’ play in their human resources; after all, they have project plans to track, budgets to juggle, employees to supervise and problems to solve. However, a manager that fails to lead by example, listen to ideas and concerns, leverage employees’ strengths, celebrate successes and show appreciation can ultimately be detrimental to an employee’s health.

Companies often mistakenly depend too heavily on extrinsic financial rewards, or defer to employees to motivate each other to become involved in wellbeing programs, but, as with anything at your organization, in order for wellbeing programs to achieve success, these programs require leadership. We need to shift focus to managers by offering tools and training on how they can help their employees thrive. Coaching and mentorships will help managers develop a service leadership style that is conducive to inspiring their employees and building a cohesive, happy team.

By transforming managers in various job functions across the organization into wellbeing champions for the company, you’re developing leaders capable of creating a more dynamic energy among your workforce. Rather than placing the responsibility for wellbeing program momentum solely on the backs of human resources professionals, managers who lead the wellbeing charge can bring more excitement to the table. Not to mention, HR professionals wear many different hats, and by empowering managers to become wellbeing champions, they are less likely themselves to become burned out. A team of management level champions, along with an employee wellbeing committee, helps to ensure a more diversified, well-rounded program that is meaningful to employees across your organization.

There are many easy ways to enlist managers as wellbeing champions for your organization. Managers can take turns doing educational desk drops about upcoming events, letting employees know about workplace happenings in-person. They can provide healthy snacks, lead walking meetings, encourage volunteerism and participation in projects that brighten work/life, share successes in words or pictures, like a healthy selfies, and simply, express gratitude for employee creativity and quality of work. Include a wellbeing overview as part of the onboarding process for new employees and check in to help keep a pulse on morale and better understand barriers to participation.

Ultimately, the job of a wellbeing champion doesn’t have to be time-consuming, but it does take enthusiasm and leadership. Your managers may be just the people to take on such a role.


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