Early on in my career in the field of worksite wellness, I learned that one of recognized best practices for a wellness initiative is to have senior leadership support. In the years that followed, as I worked with a variety of clients, it became clear quickly that without the support of senior leadership, the commitment to the wellness initiative was just not a reality.
Leadership support is essential for the wellness initiative since this support provides access to resources necessary to run the initiative. It’s equally important that the leadership team set the tone in the organization and define the behaviors and norms that shape company culture.
How leaders can lead wellbeing:
- Make your own health a priority. There is no better way to show that wellbeing is a core value for each individual leader than by living it. By making your own health a priority, you serve as a role model to all employees. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or mountain climber to do this. Sharing that you may indeed struggle with your own health makes you more human.
- Make wellbeing a core company value. The values of the organization influence the way employees engage and commit to the mission of the organization. The values need to be what happens every day within the organization, not just something written on a wall plaque. To attract and retain employees, wellbeing is increasingly being seen as a core value – especially for millennials.
- Link wellbeing to strategic goals. Linking employee wellbeing to strategic goals acknowledges the value of a healthy workforce and its importance to achieving business goals.
- Establish a culture that reflects the value. Culture is the norms, values and underlying assumptions that drive behavior in an organization. Establish rituals, practices, and policies, and tell the stories of the value of a healthy, engaged workforce to the business.
Simon Sinek writes in “Leaders Eat Last” that “Leadership takes work. It takes time and energy. Leadership is always a commitment to human beings.” Seize the opportunity to lead from the perspective of wellbeing.