by LaBarron Burwell, MSA, CWP

Have you ever had a boss that just seemed off? I mean they seem like an “ok” person, and they “get the job done”, but there is not a feeling of passion or zest?

Leadership is a critical aspect of any organization, and it’s crucial for leaders to understand the importance of fostering an environment that promotes employee engagement and achievement. The challenge for leadership is that each employee is unique and has different needs, preferences, and motivations. Cultivating a healthy and engaged work culture requires leaders to take a unique approach and perspective for each employee. However, one thing that is certain, leaders will struggle to create a positive and productive work culture if they are not well themselves.

It is hard for leadership to be effective if they are not well. Being an effective leader requires a certain level of physical and mental well-being. When a leader is unwell, whether it’s physically or mentally, it can negatively impact their ability to perform their duties effectively. They may have difficulty making decisions, communicating effectively, managing and motivating employees, and providing the support and guidance team members need. This can lead to decreased productivity, low morale, high turnover rate, and other negative effects on the overall performance of the team. An unwell leader may also struggle to maintain their own well-being and balance which can further compound the problem. To be an effective leader, it is essential that they take care of their own well-being and seek help if needed.

Moreover, Leaders with poor wellness practices can also set a bad example for their employees, and this can lead to a lack of interest in self-care and well-being among employees. A leader’s behavior, especially concerning wellness practices, can have a significant impact on the culture of the organization and the well-being of their team. Therefore, it’s important that leaders model good wellness practices and encourage the same from their employees.

Employee-centered professional development programs that focus on wellness and self-care are becoming increasingly important for organizations. These programs are designed to help employees improve their physical and mental well-being, which can lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention. According to a study by the National Business Group on Health, companies that invest in employee wellness programs can see a return on investment of up to 6:1. Another study by the American Psychological Association found that employees who participate in wellness programs are more likely to report better physical and mental health, better job satisfaction, and less job-related stress. Furthermore, an employee self-care program can also lead to decrease in absenteeism by up to 28% and health care cost savings of up to $3,400 per employee per year. These programs are not only beneficial for the employees but also for the organizations as they can lead to a more productive, engaged and motivated workforce.

There is a significant amount of research that suggests that leadership and management teams that prioritize wellness have a number of benefits. Here are a few statistics and studies to back up this claim:

  • A study by the Harvard Business Review found that companies with engaged and healthy employees had significantly higher levels of productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction compared to those with disengaged and unhealthy employees.
  • Another study by the Mental Health Foundation found that employees who reported good mental health were more likely to be productive, take fewer sick days, and have higher job satisfaction.
  • American Psychological Association (APA) found that companies with employee assistance programs (EAPs) had a return on investment (ROI) of $1.44 to $7.09 for every dollar invested in the program.
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that the implementation of workplace wellness programs led to an average reduction in health care costs of $3.27 per employee per month.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that workplace wellness programs can reduce absenteeism by 25%.
  • Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that companies with high-involvement work practices, which include employee involvement in decision-making and a focus on employee well-being, had lower levels of employee turnover and better overall performance.

ROI of wellness programs can vary depending on the specific program, company and population. But overall, these studies demonstrate that investing in the well-being of leadership and management teams can lead to a number of positive outcomes for both the employees and the organization.

There are several best practices that leaders can implement to improve their wellness level. These include regular exercise and physical activity, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, stress management techniques, time management, and building a support network of friends, family, and colleagues. To implement these practices, leaders should first identify which areas they need to focus on and make a plan to incorporate these practices into their daily routine. For example, leaders can schedule regular exercise into their calendar, set a consistent sleep schedule, and plan out their meals for the week. Additionally, leaders should learn and implement stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises and make time for it in their schedule. They should also set aside time each week to connect with their support network. Furthermore, leaders should also encourage their employees to implement these practices and lead by example.