12 hot tips for leaders on how to get the most out of employee wellbeing initiatives

Whether you are a leader that takes a hands-on approach to employee wellbeing in your organisation or your role is to oversee others who are responsible, here are some not-so-obvious factors that it’s important to think about when it comes to proactively improving the wellbeing of your employees.

The tips are taken from my free ebook ‘A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing’. If you want to find out more about how these tips fit into the bigger picture of your employee wellbeing strategy, download the book which is packed with practical information.

Here are my 12 tips for leaders:

1. Find out what your employees actually want - Find out from them. Don’t just guess! For more information about how to do this see ’10 reasons why employees don’t speak up when they need help and 5 things you can do about it’

2. Act from a position of genuine and heartfelt desire to do good - If you’re aiming to improve the wellbeing of your employees purely to increase profits it will show through. If you fall into this trap then it’s a matter of going through the motions but not necessarily getting the results.

3. Lead people in gently - Your initial communication is critical to the success of your programme.  The way you frame your intentions and plans can influence whether you will get the best possible results or not. See ‘Why and how to communicate your employee wellbeing strategy’

4. Appeal to all different mind-sets - Some people are pragmatic, some people are feelings driven, some are naturally wary. Use language and processes that are inclusive and don’t alienate a particular group. At all stages it is essential that people feel safe and not exposed or vulnerable so that they are most likely to  take up the next level of support if it is beneficial to them. Once people have put up their defences, it is much harder to help them, if not impossible. Use things like resilience training as a means of introducing the concept of coaching to employees, meeting the coaches, finding out about further support and registering their interest.

5. Reach all employees - Leave no stone unturned (because if you do, it is most likely that the stone you leave unturned is the stone that needed turning!)

6. Let the drive come from employees - Presume that there is no better person to know what support is right for a person than the individual themselves.  You can’t impose a change in wellbeing on someone and shouldn’t try. Let people put themselves forward for the support they need.  This is the principle which underpins the potential for maximising your return on investment.  For more about this read ‘Maximise the ROI of your employee wellbeing strategy in 3 easy steps’.

7. Make it easy to access - If you put in place approval processes, the fear of being denied the support or having attention drawn to them will put people off from seeking the support they need. Have a guaranteed access, no questions asked policy in place. For tips about making support easier to access read ’10 reasons why employees don’t speak up when they need help and 5 things you can do about it’

8. Keep the two way process going - It is essential to build trust and to keep that trust going. If the management go off on a tangent or communication fizzles out, even if you are still fully committed to the actions, then trust will evaporate and the potential impact plummets.

9. Address all aspects of wellbeing - Both physical and mental health. They are both connected. By concentrating on one and not the other you could be sabotaging your overall effort.

10. Don’t forget about people once they are absent - The longer someone is off sick, the more likely they are to become depressed. It is in the interest of the employee as well as the employer to help them get back to work as early as possible. Long term sickness absence impacts on both the workload and the moral of other employees.

11. Walk the talk - Make a commitment and then follow up on ALL of your promises. Do whatever you have got to do, because a loss of trust once you’ve started is will do more harm that if you had never even thought of the idea of improving wellbeing in the first place. Don’t underestimate the intelligence or astuteness of your employees. Any backtracking or wavering in commitment will stand out like a sore thumb!

12. Don’t discriminate because of job role - Make the same level of support available to everyone from admin assistant or machine operator right up to the top executives. They will take different things from it, and that’s fine. They will take from it what is right for them. No matter what their position in the organisation, if the outcome is that a disengaged employee becomes engaged, someone becomes more motivated and more efficient in their job instead of going to work somewhere else, a relationship improves which affects a whole team or someone turns around their mind-set before stress, anxiety or depression reaches a point that they go off sick, then the investment was worth it.

If you’ve found this interesting then you’ll definitely find my free ebook ‘A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing’ really useful.

I’m also really pleased to be able to invite you to a free live webinar I’m hosting this Thursday 12th March, 2-3pm (UTC/GMT). The webinar is designed so that you can explore the relevance of a watertight Employee Wellbeing Strategy in the context of your own organisation. It will be an interactive session with me taking you through some really important questions which will help you work out exactly what is the best first step for you to take. By the end of the webinar, you’ll have some clear, defined actions that you have created yourself. To join me, click here.


Saffron Grant specialises in improving business performance by improving employee wellbeing. She provides resilience training, executive coaching and can help you to create the perfect Employee Wellbeing Strategy for your organisation.

Saffron is the author of A Practical Guide to Employee Wellbeing - How to create your strategy’ which can be downloaded for free here. You can access her new book here: 10 Steps to Resilience - A step by step guide anyone can use’.

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