Good Leaders Create a Culture of Wellness

Many businesses are implementing wellness programmes in the name of employee well-being and healthcare costs. Most include a range of seminars, workshops and engagement events around fitness, nutrition and mental well-being.

I have listened to many employees from different workplaces complain about the challenges of taking time off to attend a one-hour event as its “frowned upon”.

Some workplaces expect their wellness programme to provide results while still dishing out long hours and heavy deadlines. How can a culture of wellness thrive without genuine leadership buy-in?

Research shows that your manager can have more of an impact on your health than your GP. If our leaders aren’t creating a culture of wellness within teams we can’t expect wellness programmes to be beneficial.

Businesses seem to be missing the point of an effective wellness programme, creating initiatives to tick a box won’t work, nor will obligating employees to participate in mandatory wellness initiatives.

Creating a culture of wellness

So, the question is, are you and your managers the roadblock to creating a culture of wellness in your business?

As Geoff McDonald, former Global VP of HR for Unilever says, “the responsibility of the health of employees should sit with the CEO.” If the responsibility sits with the CEO then the leadership team have a responsibility to funnel this down through the organisation. It creates a view that the wellness of employees is important and should be incorporated into work every day – not just on noted wellness days in the calendar.

In his book ‘Dying for the Paycheck’ Jeffrey Pfeffer argues that creating workplaces where people can thrive and experience good physical and mental health and where they can work for years without facing burnout from management practices should be the long-term goal for all workplaces.

Of course, employees have personal accountability to take care of their own health and wellness however as Anne Heraty, Cpl Group CEO says “we [the employer] can be the facilitator” of this.

As employers, we have a responsibility to ensure employees leave in the same state they came into work in. If your leadership teams are not bought into your wellness programme you (the HR / Wellness Executive) are not going to get the funding you need, engagement throughout the business or the outcome you truly desire.

Rather than adding more wellness initiatives and material perks workplaces can do something much simpler and cost-effective that will yield much greater results.

By creating a culture of wellness that is built into your business strategy, and reinforced by the leadership team, you’ll add much more value to your employee’s health and wellness.

Learn more about creating a culture of wellness in your workplace

Elysia Hegarty is a Workplace Wellness Consultant with the Future of Work Institute, a Cpl company. She offers support to businesses in understanding, designing, implementing and measuring their wellness programme as well as embedding it in their culture.

For a confidential conversation please email elysia.hegarty@cpl.ie to understand how an effective workplace wellness programme can benefit both your business and employees.