How to improve health & wellbeing in the workplace

October 19, 2023 •

6 min reading

How to improve health & wellbeing in the workplace & boost performance

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In the bustling realm of work, ambitions and accomplishments may stand out as the marks of good employees, but individual health and wellbeing are the silent architects of productivity and performance.

Indeed, studies show that employee health and wellbeing are key factors for companies who are highly performant and competitive. The impact of effective workplace wellbeing initiatives have proven to be very beneficial:

  • Reduced work absenteeism by 70% - 80% (Global Wellness Institute)
  • Increased resilience by 59% and satisfaction by 74% (research by MetLife)
  • Reduced production errors by 19% and increased creativity by 55% (study by Harvard University with MIT)

Clearly, the added value of workplace wellbeing makes it a key concept for leaders to understand and promote, especially in the hospitality industry.


Culture of wellbeing - Where should you start?

Wether you’re a team coordinator, department head, or CEO, you have to start by addressing the issues at the individual level, first. Then you can extrapolate the best solutions to the wider spheres of your teams, departments, and the whole organization.

Here’s the secret: the best place to start is with yourself.

Analysing your own state of physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing in the workplace is a good way to lead by example and generated ideas.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself or discuss with a close team member:

  • How do you feel at work?
  • What bothers you the most?
  • What could be done to better care for the body, mind, and spirit in your workplace?
  • Is your work environment safe, both physically and emotionally?
  • Do you feel free to communicate openly?
  • Do you feel valued and acknowledged?
  • How is your work-life balance?
  • List 3-4 things that would make you happier about your work.

By identifying your own workplace wellbeing challenges, and showing a true interest in these issues, you confirm that wellbeing is a top priority for you as a leader. With personal insights into the issues that are affecting wellbeing in your workplace, you can create and manage impactful programs to foster positive work experiences and cultivate a genuine culture of wellbeing.

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How can a leader reinforce individual wellbeing?

Improving the wellbeing of each individual in a workforce is a multifaceted endeavor. It requires attention to the notions of self-care, learning, relationships, and service.

The following good practices adopted by successful leaders serve as valuable reference points for managers and executives looking to invest time and effort in improving the health and wellbeing of individuals throughout the organization.

Treat continuous learning with respect.

Learning shouldn’t be limited to interns, new hires and students; it's equally essential for seasoned leaders and all others in an organization.

First, it gives a strong foundation. Being prepared and feeling equipped aids in managing the pressure and emotional burden of significant challenges within companies.

Second, it fuels growth. Reading, attending workshops, or seeking mentorship nurtures personal growth and individual wellbeing as a leader.

A clear example of a leader who gives learning the respct it deserves is Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. He's renowned for his voracious reading habit, which fuels his intellectual curiosity and broadens his perspective.

Human leadership - Be a leader who is also a human being

Fostering meaningful relationships is vital. Regularly connecting with family, friends, and colleagues fosters emotional wellbeing and can even positively influence leadership style.

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, has emphasized maintaining a balance between work and personal life. She often shares anecdotes about how her family has influenced her leadership style, considered transformative and collaborative.

This people-centered approach and interpersonal relationships are reflected in her reflections, such as: "You won't be remembered for bringing in shareholder income. You'll be remembered for the impact you had on society."

Show care at work and BEYOND!

Considering wellbeing beyond work is necessary to ensure mental and emotional health in your leadership environment. So, it’s important to prioritize self-care in one’s own life and to encourage others to embrace it by dedicating time and space for positive activities like eating healthy meals, getting exercise, proper sleep, and relaxation.

For instance, the adoption of mindfulness meditation by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has enhanced his wellbeing, promoting clarity and composure in decision-making.


Practice service leadership

To quote Mahatma Gandhi: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

Engaging in altruistic acts and giving back to the community not only enhances the leader's sense of purpose but also reinforces a positive self-image.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, advocates for charitable initiatives, aligning with his commitment to make a positive impact.

Connect with the organizational purpose

Building a solid organizational purpose and aligning with it contributes to everyone’s wellbeing by instilling a sense of meaning and fulfillment.

When leaders connect with this purpose, they experience greater job satisfaction and improved mental health.

For example, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard demonstrated a deep connection to the company's environmental activism purpose.

His commitment to sustainable practices and conservation not only drove the company's success but also provided him with a strong sense of purpose, resulting in increased wellbeing and motivation to lead effectively.

"I ask my employees, 'What industry do you think we're in?' They answer, 'The apparel industry.' Wrong. We're in the industry of saving the planet," Chouinard once recounted.

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The outcome of prioritizing individual wellbeing

What can a leader who has prioritized individual wellbeing expect? Various statistics prove that they become much more effective, assertive, and successful.

Increased employee engagement

According to a Gallup study, leaders who focus on their wellbeing are 1.7 times more likely to experience high employee engagement within their teams.

This stems from leading by example. If you are motivated and consistently giving your best, you will project a positive image based on wellbeing and health in the workplace. This will infect your team, making them more engaged in business matters.

High operational performance

A Harvard Business Review report reveals that leaders who prioritize their wellbeing are not only more committed but also more likely to create thriving and high-performing teams.

These leaders tend to exhibit better decision-making, effective communication, and emotional resilience, fostering a healthier work environment.

By promoting a culture of health and wellbeing at work, leaders inspire teams to manage stress better, collaborate effectively, and maintain higher levels of engagement, all of which contribute to increased productivity and overall team success.

An unmotivated leader cannot motivate teams. A leader saturated with tasks cannot supervise the quality with which his collaborators carry out the activities. There is a direct relationship between a leader's well-being and their ability to get the best out of their team.

Wellbeing leader = better results

Leaders with individual wellbeing generate superior results for shareholders due to their enhanced cognitive abilities, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence.

Research indicates that companies led by wellbeing-focused CEOs outperform others by 3.7% annually.

A Harvard Business Review study found a correlation between CEO wellbeing and company performance. When leaders prioritize their own health, they make wiser decisions, encourage innovation, and create a more positive organizational culture. Ultimately, this translates into improved financial outcomes for shareholders.

As a conclusion that should resonate in your head, remember that well-being in an organization must start with the leaders. It is altruistic and kind to focus on the well-being of all collaborators, but this is not the most effective way to proceed.

Leaders of different areas, and even the executives who direct the organization at the highest level have to feel satisfaction and self-fulfillment. Wellbeing is like a waterfall that permeates the entire organization, but that water must start flowing from the top.

Now that you understand the keys to focus on yourself and enhance your health and wellbeing at work, explore the best practices to boost employee performance.