There are many elements within business organizations that affect employees’ well-being (wellness in physical and mental health, relationships, finances, career, and other areas that contribute to overall satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment). Leadership support; a company culture that values and prioritizes workforce well-being; a respectful, safe, and pleasant working environment; and other factors certainly are important contributors.
But the top driver of workers’ well-being? Managers. Research by corporate wellness tech company Limeade found that three-quarters of surveyed employees cited managers as their top source of well-being support in the workplace. Company cultures and leaders ranked second and third.
Clearly, good health and overall well-being are important to individuals who want to achieve success, and experience full and satisfying lives.
But why does organizational, and especially manager, support for workforce well-being matter to employers?
Because workers who report higher levels of well-being also claim greater engagement and enjoyment in their work and stronger team loyalty, according to the Limeade study.
Other research links employee well-being to a multitude of business benefits: increased productivity, lower costs, reductions in workplace stress, stronger work relationships, and improved morale, to name just a few.
Conversely, Gallup, long known for its expertise in workforce well-being, points to significant cost risks that companies encounter when employee well-being is lacking. For example, Gallup says that three quarters of employer medical costs are attributable to preventable conditions, that global productivity and turnover lost annually to worker burnout totals as much as $322 billion, and that burnout resulting in voluntary turnover costs companies up to 20% of total payroll.
Six Ways Managers Can Support Employee Well-being
“Managers can make a difference in employee health and well-being by asking, listening, coaching, clearing roadblocks, providing support and encouragement and offering learning and team building opportunities,” says Limeade founder and CEO Henry Albrecht. To do all that, he adds that managers must rely on their organizations for training, tools, and flexibility to work effectively with their teams.
In addition, companies need to set clear expectations (and provide specific instruction) to equip managers to speak to employees about well-being concerns. Managers also must learn how to spot problems, refer employees to EAPs and other employer-provided resources, and elevate more-complicated issues to HR when need be.
With that groundwork laid, managers can confidently explore and apply many ways to show support for the well-being of their team members. Six strategies recommended by well-being researchers offer good starting points: