Middle Managers: Wellbeing's Biggest Supporters or Greatest Threat?

February 19 2018 / by Mari Ryan


It is recognized that the success of a workplace wellbeing program is dependent on the support of senior leadership. We’ve written about this here. One of the other critical success factors often overlooked is the role middle managers play in the success of wellbeing programs.

Managers play a key role in overall business success. As noted University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor Ethan Mollick states “Pay closer attention to your middle managers. They may have a greater impact on company performance than almost any other part of the organization.” Middle managers are viewed as keys to unlocking innovation. They play a critical role in communications and in employee retention.

When it comes to workplace wellbeing programs, middle managers can be either your biggest supporters or your greatest threat. In some organizations, middle managers control the flow of communications. In doing so, they can be gatekeepers of that information, thereby impeding employees participation. They can see the wellbeing programs as a threat to their team’s performance, distracting already overstressed employees.

Alternatively, middle managers can be a wellbeing program’s greatest asset. Employees watch actions by managers and leaders at all levels closely. When middle managers embrace wellbeing personally, they are role models for their employees. By encouraging their team to focus on their wellbeing, they demonstrate that they care about their employees.

Here are a few ways to inspire middle managers to be your wellbeing program’s greatest supporters:

  • Educate managers on the business case for employee wellbeing. Help them see how a healthy workforce is essential to achieving both team and overall business objectives.
  • Encourage managers to participate. Help them be role models for the initiative by walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
  • Elevate wellbeing in all organizational communications. This will serve as a constant reminder to managers on the importance of employee wellbeing to the overall organization.

Managers are your key to success, not just for your business, but also for your employee wellbeing initiative.  How might you empower them and rally their support in your organization?

Topics: Worksite Wellness, Wellbeing, worksite wellbeing, workplace wellbeing, wellness, leadership skills, cultural competence, leadership, company leadership, ceo, cfo, c suite leadership, leading wellbeing, employee wellness, leadership support for wellbeing, managers, middle management

Mari Ryan

Written by Mari Ryan

Mari Ryan is the CEO/founder of AdvancingWellness and is a recognized expert in the field of workplace well-being strategy.