Reimagining The Role of Leadership in Employee Wellness
Employee wellness has become a big-time topic for organizations that want to thrive in today’s competitive world. Employers desire to have healthy and active employees in their workforce. Healthy employees are more energetic, engaged, and self-motivated compared to their counterparts. They exhibit a great sense of responsibility towards their duty and grow professionally while maintaining a great work-life balance. Overall, they play a significant role in the growth story of the organization.
Seeing the lucrative opportunity of how a culture of wellness can ensure long term growth and stability, organizations are now widely considering corporate wellness programs.
For those who are new to this term, it is a set of various physical and mental health activities that are specifically designed for the employees to help them take the first step towards a healthy lifestyle.
However, even the most effective looking employee wellness initiatives are prone to fall apart if there's no active involvement of the leadership.
Even though much of the responsibility lies upon the employees for taking care of their health, employers must form the supporting backbone. They need to ensure that wellness doesn’t remain merely a term widely used within the organization but is practiced by everyone. This is where the role of leadership comes into play.
Leadership in Wellness: Why it Matters?
Modern-day employees have to focus on a lot of things while at their jobs. Buried under the ever-increasing workload, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the last thing that strikes their mind. In such a scenario, just facilitating them with healthcare amenities like on-site gyms or a digital corporate wellness platform might not be enough.
The employees need someone to back them up, understand their concerns, and guide them accordingly. And this part falls upon the leadership of the organization.
As a leader, you have to convince your employees by associating wellbeing with a greater purpose that everyone from top to bottom is willing to accomplish. The phase where you encourage employees to register active participation in the wellness program shouldn’t be limited to a speech or a launch email.
In a normal setup, employees try to mirror their leaders, and the same happens in wellness.
You have to act as their role model and get personally involved in the employee health initiatives. This would not only give the employees a perfect chance to play and interact with their leaders but will form a firm base for great teamwork. As a leader, you get to learn from your employees and explore the things that motivate them.
Apart from physical wellness, your leadership skills can also impact the mental health of the employees. Today’s employees stand exposed to certain degrees of emotional exhaustion based on their level of hardship and work environment. Emotional exhaustion can bear the employees’ performance. It affects them mentally by disrupting their sleep cycle and even causing insomnia if proper action is not taken on time. The adverse effects of this also show up in their physical health, where they constantly feel burnt out at short intervals.
As a result, employees lose their interest in work and act disengaged, negatively affecting team performance.. To avoid this, you as a leader must make it a point to hear them out frequently. This can be done by conducting employee surveys or keeping an open-door policy for one-on-one meetings.
Further, you must be supportive enough to give them their own space and provide guidance in all forms whenever the need arises. This would significantly decrease the chances of your employees going through the mental agony faced by the majority in today's workforce.
Dealing With the Present Pandemic Situation
Viewing the current situation where everyone is forced within their homes, the role of leadership in employee wellness becomes even more significant.
Since everyone is scattered, the leadership must go above and beyond to keep their workers connected to their goals. And by goals, I also meant "Staying fit and healthy" amidst these challenging times.
A solution to address the goal of wellness came out in the form of a cloud-based corporate wellness program that allows you to run virtual wellness challenges. Deploying such a system does the job of extending your wellness initiative a bit easy. Still, in the end, the success of it depends on how much you can attract and engage your employees here.
Things That You Can do to Encourage Wellness
As a leader, you can do many things based on your capabilities for encouraging your employees to transform their lifestyle for good.
Here are a few suggestions that I believe are the basic things that every individual in a leadership position should do:
1. Communicate the Benefits of Staying Healthy
The first thing that you should always do as a leader who is concerned about the employees' health and well-being is to speak about the benefits of healthy living. You must cease every possible moment where you think you can build up a conversation around health topics with your employees.
2. Share Your Own Routine
As I mentioned above, you must lead them with examples, and the best way to do this is by sharing your health routine with them often. Once your employees get to know how their leaders keep themselves going even in the toughest of time, there’s a high chance that many will start following your footsteps.
3. Host Open Discussion on Health Issues
The best way to make your employees aware of the various health ailments that they might encounter because of any reason is by hosting awareness sessions. In these sessions, you can bring up any trending topics around health and encourage your employees to speak up their views about avoiding such issues.
4. Reach Out to Employees Not Doing Well
Being a leader, you must make sure that none of your employees fall behind while chasing goals together. You must regularly take stock of your employees' well-being regime. If you find any employee-facing difficulties, then you must provide them with adequate support and counseling to get them back in the game.
5. Appreciate Employees for Their Efforts
Leaders are entrusted with keeping the employees engaged and motivated, which goes the same for wellness programs. Even if the employees follow your footsteps, you must not leave any opportunity to appreciate them for their efforts. This would help you keep them inspired and stay committed to their health goals in the long run.
Leadership roles are not at all easy as it demands the individuals to stay focussed on the larger goals and at the same time inspire others to join them. Moreover, when it comes to ushering a culture of health and wellness within the organization, the leaders must be ready to adapt to any changes arising out of varying employee demands.
Encouraging your employees to take up healthy habits will undoubtedly take some time. Still, till then, you must never leave their side or abandon them in the process.
If some of my suggestions, as mentioned above, are followed well complimented by your leadership skills, then the dream of achieving a healthy workforce will surely turn to reality.
However, if you would like to add more to these suggestions or present your views on this subject, we would love to hear it from you in the comments below.
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