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How Leaders Affect Workplace Well-Being


DDI’s 2023 Global Leadership Forecast tells us that signs of burnout are growing among business leaders, with 72 percent reporting that they often feel used up at the end of the day—an increase from 60 percent in 2020. Despite organizations focusing more than ever on DEI, physical safety, burnout, and retention, optimal outcomes continue to decline. As a result, employees are increasingly attracted to employers with leaders who can better support their workplace well-being.

In the past, organizations have largely relied on employees to implement wellness programs, which is unlikely to happen if they’re ending each workday feeling drained. That’s why leaders play a critical role in ensuring that corporate wellness programs are implemented and actually used by employees.

What is workplace well-being, and why is it important?

Workplace well-being is a broad and increasingly important concept that revolves around building and maintaining a healthy work environment where employees can prosper. Implementing workplace wellness practices is critical because it helps build a positive, safe, and collaborative environment where employees can perform their best.

Teams that feel their organization cares about their well-being achieve higher customer engagement, profitability, productivity, and retention. Plus, they have fewer safety incidents. When an employee believes they can bring their whole self to work, they feel valued.

It’s unrealistic for employees to compartmentalize the significant political, social, physical, and mental challenges that have defined the past several years—and they shouldn’t have to. When holistic employee well-being is not prioritized, it can impact an organization’s ability to retain talent. In fact, 81 percent of workers planned to look for workplaces offering better mental health support.


How do managers affect the well-being of their teams?

Almost 70 percent of people reported that their manager has a greater impact on their mental health than their therapist or doctor. This equals the impact of their partner.

Managers set the tone for their teams, but too many of them put pressure on their teams to prioritize work over everything else. The best HR-created wellness program won’t be used if managers don’t afford teams the time and space to use them. Leaders must communicate that wellness is valuable in and of itself. The key to success is encouraging leaders to adopt a holistic and proactive approach.


To approach wellness holistically, leaders must consider all the dimensions that affect a person’s quality of life. In addition to physical and mental health, well-being can include social, intellectual, professional, environmental, or financial aspects. The dimensions of well-being are interconnected and affect the whole person and their behaviors.

Additionally, leaders must create an environment that encourages their teams to take action proactively. As a leader, ask yourself these questions: Are your well-being efforts treating the symptoms or the causes? Is your team comfortable taking the needed steps to address their wellness as an ongoing habit, or only once they have reached a crisis?

You want to set your employees up to do their best work, not just to recover from overwork. Proactive well-being actions aim to prevent negative impacts to employee wellness, such as burnout, stress, and low engagement.

Leaders should create engaging opportunities for their team that foster a sense of ownership and support, and they should also implement measures emphasizing employee wellness.

Learn four key dimensions that leaders can focus on to improve employee well-being in DDI’s blog.

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very useful to improve leadership
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