It’s fairly common in any workplace for a new calendar year to bring the buzz of new resolutions, fresh goals and a slew of motivational programs. The idea of physical, mental and emotional wellness is top-of-mind as your team faces a fresh, new start.

It’s important for you, as a leader, to ride this wave of enthusiasm and embed key wellness values throughout your organization for the long term. Because – as the new year progresses, you may find that initial enthusiasm for resolutions wanes.

This is a critical time for leaders to reinforce the importance of combining work and well-being. Setting intentions around how we show up, communicate with our teams, and prioritize self-care can have a profound impact on workplace culture.

Prioritizing wellness in the workplace requires leaders to lead by example and prioritize their own well-being, creating a ripple effect that positively influences the entire team.

Why Wellness Matters

We all know that having concern for the welfare of others, especially those who are part of our team, is simply the right thing to do. But if that’s not enough to motivate leaders to prioritize wellness, let’s take a look at the business case.

Research shows us that companies with robust wellness programs experience higher employee retention rates and increased productivity. When people are healthier, they take fewer sick days and they are more engaged.
And in some cases, the ROI for wellness efforts can be as high as $4:1. By investing in employee well-being, organizations create an environment where individuals thrive, which then drives the business to long-term success.

The Oxygen Mask Principle

In our experience, leaders who neglect their own well-being often see less than stellar results within their teams, leading to burnout. For everyone.

It’s a matter of energy management that starts with self-care. We all know that in an airplane emergency, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. It’s the same with well-being – you have to take care of yourself if you expect your team to do the same.

When leaders prioritize their own physical and mental health, it becomes easier to encourage the same mindset in their teams. And this fosters alignment and strengthens employee trust.

At the end of the day, optics matter. If the team sees a leader looking after herself, prioritizing workouts, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, it reassures them that these practices are not only encouraged, but essential. This approach is sustainable and contributes to a healthier, more productive work environment.

Aligning Actions with Words

Actions, as the saying goes, speak louder than words.

As a trusted leader within your organization, you can’t just talk about wellness – you have to model it. People will pay much more attention to – and be more inclined to follow – what you do than what you say. When others see you taking care of your own wellness, they feel empowered to take care of theirs.

When you, as the leader, commit to a certain course of action and consistently follow through, it builds trust. Conversely, mixed signals can sow confusion and undermine healthy workplace habits.

That means no sending after-hours emails or working through the weekend if you’ve told your team you don’t expect them to. That just confuses everyone and can be a barrier to your team trusting that you mean what you say. Instead, model the behavior you’d like to see.

This kind of living up to stated expectations around work-life balance sets a powerful example. So, here’s our question for you: where can you reflect and identify where you can be better at aligning what you’re saying and what you’re doing – both for yourself and for those around you at work?

Integrating Wellness into the Workplace

If you’d like to make wellness a part of the fabric of your culture, here are some simple ideas to get you started:

  • Incorporate small, practical steps into your workday: take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a short walk in the middle of the day, take breaks to hydrate or host walk-and-talk meetings. Any of these actions can set the tone for a healthy workplace culture.
  • Talk about your own health: let your team see that you prioritize physical and mental health – both for you and for them – and normalize talking about how you prioritize your well-being.
  • Create opportunities for community – organize lunches for all team members or mid-morning break times for co-workers to connect.

Be the Change

The benefits of prioritizing wellness within your organization are clear – so let’s challenge ourselves to lead by example, demonstrating that taking care of ourselves is not only acceptable, but essential, for long-term success.

By integrating wellness into the fabric of our workplaces, we pave the way for healthier, happier, and more engaged teams.

If you’d like some support as you promote wellness among your team, we welcome you to visit our website for more information or to contact us for a free consultation.

Together, let’s create workplaces where individuals thrive – setting the stage for a future of growth and fulfillment.

Corporate Wellness Magazine
HBR Magazine