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Why Workplace Health and Wellbeing Starts with Managers

Why Workplace Health and Wellbeing Starts with Managers


For many organisations to achieve sustainable results, they need their people to be at their best both physically and psychologically - and your managers are your front line.

It’s thought that if all UK businesses adopted an improved approach to people management, the economy could benefit from an efficiency gain of up to £77bn as workforces become more engaged, more motivated and crucially more productive (IIP).

It’s why health and wellbeing has been rising up the agenda – because for many organisations to achieve sustainable results, they need their people to be at their best both physically and psychologically.

The link between health, wellbeing, engagement and performance is a point that Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind reiterated in a recent CIPD report as she suggested “…increasing levels of staff wellbeing and engagement should be a major priority for UK business leaders – you can’t have one without the other.”

But what is health and wellbeing in a business?

Much broader than just encouraging healthy eating and physical fitness, research has found that employers consider health and wellbeing to cover issues such as stress, security and morale.

How well people are managed and supported is also a key factor and naturally where your managers make a key difference. In fact, the latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) found that a lack of managerial support was one of the main factors causing work related stress, depression or anxiety.

Managers – as leaders, coaches and role models – play a vital role in influencing engagement levels and in turn the impact on health and wellbeing. They are also the front line in preventing, identifying and supporting workplace wellbeing issues as they arise.

So if you want to explore health and wellbeing for your organisation and what you can do to support your people performance, start with your managers.

Top Tips for Encouraging Supportive Management

  • From saying ‘thank you’ regularly to being more flexible should employees need to visit sick relatives or attend family appointments, the little things can mean a lot. Encourage managers to develop a nurturing culture where employees show greater commitment and enthusiasm.
  • Remember health and wellbeing in performance reviews especially when setting objectives. Consider the impact of people’s work on their health and wellbeing and what support or flexibility they might need to achieve them.
  • Look at your capability or competence framework – consider extending your management competencies framework to include the behaviours expected from managers to support health and wellbeing within their team.
  • Ensure managers are making time for regular opportunities for discussion including one to ones. This will help to open dialogue and build trust so health and wellbeing issues can be picked up earlier.
  • Don’t forget your manager’s health and wellbeing too. Ensure your managers are supported themselves, clear on expectations and understand where they can go for advice and guidance.
  • The latest estimates from the LFS show that stress accounts for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health. Top stress issues can include high workload and not feeling supported – areas that managers can help remedy so make sure they understand how they can help prevent or recognise the signs as early as possible. You can also download Mental Health First Aid England’s guide for line managers here.
  • For more top tips and information around workplace wellbeing, visit our Health and Wellbeing SlideShare here.

If you are looking to support the health and wellbeing of your people, you can also find out more about the Health and Wellbeing Award from Investors in People here or get in touch. The Award provides a framework to help you plan, progress and evaluate health and wellbeing activity and focuses on physical, psychological and social wellbeing.