Senior management input required to promote workplace wellbeing

Wellness at workJust a third of American workers say they regularly participate in health promotions provided by their employer, despite the prevalence of workplace wellness programmes. According to the American Psychological Association a key part of the solution is increasing senior leadership support. In the APA’s 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, less than half of working Americans (44 percent) reported that the climate in their organisation supports employee well-being, and 1 in 3 admitted to being chronically stressed on the job. However, nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of employees with senior managers who show support through involvement and commitment to well-being initiatives said their organisation helps employees develop a healthy lifestyle, compared with just 11 percent who work in an organisation without leadership support. Among all employees surveyed, 33 percent said they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday, and only 41 percent said their employer helps workers develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The survey found widespread links between support from senior leaders and a variety of employee and organisational outcomes, with more than 9 in 10 workers saying they feel motivated to do their best (91 percent vs. 38 percent of those without leadership support), are satisfied with their job (91 percent vs. 30 percent) and have a positive relationship with supervisors (91 percent vs. 54 percent) and co-workers (93 percent vs. 72 percent). These employees are also more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work (89 percent vs. 17 percent) and fewer said they intend to leave their job in the next year (25 percent vs. 51 percent).

“Promoting employee well-being isn’t a singular activity, but is instead set up in a climate that is cultivated, embraced and supported by high-level leaders and managers,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, director of APA’s Center for Organisational Excellence. “When supervisors’ actions match their words, employees notice.”

And while leadership support is related to how employees feel about their work, only 4 in 10 working Americans said their senior managers are involved in and committed to well-being initiatives.

When it comes to building a climate of well-being, employers need to look beyond just physical health to help employees feel recognized, valued and involved and create opportunities for growth and development, Ballard said. But as the survey revealed, employers are falling short in their efforts.

Overall, only about half of employed adults said they feel valued by their employer (53 percent) and that the rewards and recognition they receive reflect the effort they put into their work (50 percent). Even fewer said the recognition they receive reflects their contributions to the organisation (47 percent) and is based on a fair performance evaluation system (47 percent).

Just half of working Americans said they believe their employer provides enough opportunities to be involved in decision-making and fewer than that (46 percent) said they regularly participate in activities that involve them in making decisions, solving problems or setting goals.

With lack of opportunity for growth or advancement being second only to low salaries as a source of job stress, only half of the U.S. workforce reported being satisfied with the development opportunities offered by their employer, and just 43 percent said their employer provides sufficient opportunity for internal advancement.

“Many employers say they focus on workplace wellness, but what is put into place is too often individual programs or policies that aren’t supported by the organisation’s culture,” Ballard said. “Employers who truly embrace well-being as part of how they do business create a workplace where both employees and the organisation thrive.”

Download the full report here.

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