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Empowering Managers to be Wellbeing Leaders in Your Organization

July 3, 2018 / Employee Wellbeing Best Practices

As we all know, a growing percentage of employers are now offering wellbeing programs to their workforce. As a matter of fact, according to findings by Robert Half, 66% of employers have increased their wellbeing offerings in the last five years alone.

However, if your organization is like the norm, engagement and participation in these programs is your biggest challenge.  One Rand Health research report found that as many as 80% of employees opt out of participating in the average work-offered wellness program.

At Virgin Pulse, 90% of our members say that our program has made their organization a better place to work. Many of our most successful clients work closely with our experts and their in-house management team to reap these results. And a part of that strategy includes positioning management and high-visibility employees as wellbeing ambassadors within their organization. Call them ambassadors, wellbeing leaders, role models – these are the individuals that help foster change on the ground level, and reinforce health each and every day.

Further still a Gallup study found that managers may account for 70% of employee engagement variance in a wellbeing program. 

Here are a few reasons your middle and junior management can help you win at wellbeing:

It’s about relatability.

While we already know that senior management participation is important and shows that an organization takes wellbeing seriously, middle management and supervisors provide a more relatable example for most individual contributors. It can be hard to relate to the executive – what with their own office and assumably higher paycheck – and so employees write them off as “having it all.” When a mid-level employee participates in wellbeing, it demonstrates that health and wellness is possible for everyone, not just the top 5% of the company.

Direct supervisors provide unspoken permission.

It doesn’t matter if HR or senior management is encouraging walking breaks or exercise at lunch if individuals don’t feel their direct supervisor also endorses these activities. When an individual’s immediate manager takes part in wellbeing activities, individual contributors know that it’s okay that they do too, often without any further communication or explicit permission.

Wellbeing helps managers meet their department goals.

That’s right – if you’re looking for a reason to incentivize your management team – there are tons of stats to help support how actively participating in wellbeing programs across a department lowers absenteeism and increases engagement and productivity.To learn more about how wellbeing affects a department’s (or an organization’s) bottom line, read The Business of Health Employees. 

It includes wellbeing in regular 1:1 meetings.

For wellbeing to take hold, it needs to be an active part of the conversation, and integrate with the culture. Most managers have a weekly 1:1 meeting with their reports – consider including wellbeing goals into the conversation, and encourage managers to work with their direct reports to include a wellbeing goal into their KPI’s.This might mean a standing desk, or a weekly lunchtime workout, or even walking meetings.

While these may sound like small changes, this type of grassroots effort is extremely powerful. By helping employees realize they not only have permission, but support to take care of themselves during the work week, you are improving organizational culture from within and creating a workplace where wellbeing matters.

Want to become your organization’s expert on the core components of employee engagement? Watch this webinar replay with bestselling author Dr. Susan David, developed exclusively with Virgin Pulse. 



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