The Significant Role Leaders Play in Influencing Employee Well-Being - Higher Education
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The Significant Role Leaders Play in Influencing Employee Well-Being

by Adeline Martinus

The idea of employee well-being is nothing new. Every organization, including colleges and universities, wants happy and healthy employees yet, few organizations actually take the necessary steps to support their employees’ well-being.

Nowadays, organizations need to have a great benefits package in order to attract and retain top talent. Some institutions have succeeded by focusing on improving their benefits plan. These organizations took action by implementing well-being programs which have become very popular over the years. These well-being programs usually include annual screenings, wellness events, on-site medical practitioners and nurses, fitness centers and health education. You might say that some of these companies are well on their way to exceeding their efforts to ensure employees’ have the resources they need. While it seems like some of them have it figured out, there is one key aspect that is missing from the well-being equation; that is engagement. While organizations might have the right resources in place, many employees fail to take advantage of these resources and therefore they become unhappy and unhealthy employees. This is where organizational leaders come in. Organizational leaders often forget the significant impact they make when it comes to influencing their employees.

Why leaders need to pay attention to employee’s well-being?

Every leader wants productive and engaged employees. Leaders count on their employees to use their skills and capabilities to deliver the best quality of work in hopes to reach  goals and objectives while contributing to its overall growth. Leaders have the ability to empower their employees to do their best.

Organizations are spending on average $742 on each employee per year on wellness. On the other hand, disengagement costs are up to $550 billion a year. Realistically, costs add up fast, but what if companies are able to see others benefit from their investment? About 54 percent of American companies have wellness programs in place but only about 40 percent say they benefit from the program and one-third don’t use them at all.

Adeline Martinus

Employees who engage in their well-being are generally happy and motivated to bring their best self to the workplace. As a result, happy and healthy employees are generally better performers; making them present at work, reducing absenteeism. Most importantly, they are committed and loyal to their leaders because they know they’re leaders have a sincere interest in their overall well-being.

What can leaders do?

Implementing a “caring” culture can tremendously improve the engagement in well-being program and initiatives. Therefore, clearly stating the importance of remembering employees to focus on themselves too and not just their work should be the first step. Secondly, it’s important to create space for employees to focus their time on themselves while at work. Many organizations have fitness centers on-site, but none of the employees have the ability to take 30 minutes of their time to exercise if it’s not in their personal break time. Leaders should remember that well-being is not only about the physical but also about the emotional health of having a down time for employees to get themselves recharged to take on the rest of their day. Below are a few steps leader can take to increase employee well-being:

  • Encourage motivation within the workforce

Create a culture where team members can motivate each other to go for a walk together or do yoga in the break room. Again, it all goes back to a caring culture of having a sincere interest in each other’s well-being.

  • Have a reward system

Having a reward system for employees who participate in well-being events is another way to increase engagement. Whether its gift cards, an extra day off, hour flexibility, prizes or points, it could all be beneficial. However, keep in mind that reward systems should always be tailored to employees needs and goals to serve a purpose.

  • Lead by example

Leaders are role models, and what they do matter to employees. It all starts from the top down. Employees will not engage themselves in well-being initiatives if they don’t see that their leaders walk the walk. Leaders should remember to take care of themselves first before trying to influence others to follow. Nonetheless, employees will engage if they have the utmost support from their leaders.

Happy and healthy employees are undoubtedly productive and better performing employees. Employers looking to enrich their employees’ performance might want to redirect their focus on themselves and their leaders. Organizational support is crucial when it comes to engagement and participation in the organizations well-being programs making organizational leaders the key to creating a happy and healthy work environment. Successful well-being programs bloom when leaders serve as a well-being role model for their colleagues. Finally, it is important to understand that people better themselves when they are inspired to do so. Therefore, it is a leaders’ job to guide, encourage, and inspire our employees to bring out the best in them.

Adeline Martinus is a graduate student at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Martinus has worked over the past year and a half contributing to employee’s well-being as an HR coordinator at the college.

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