10 Ways to Turn Your Organization's Top Leaders Into Wellness Champions

Transform leadership from passive supporters to enthusiastic cheerleaders with these ideas:

  • Recognize their needs. What are managers’ perceptions, apprehensions, and expectations surrounding the wellness program? You may need to educate them in the economics of prevention or the influence of health and work environment on productivity. Gauge their level of excitement and commitment to program success.
  • Link wellness to management’s priorities. How can the wellness program facilitate culture change? Emphasize studies that stress enhanced quality of life and greater workplace engagement for those who live a healthy lifestyle. If recruitment or retention is a problem, highlight the impact of your services on morale and retaining valuable employees.
  • Make the case for health and productivity. What are the costliest employee conditions — those most deviating from the norm and affecting productivity? Estimate the potential losses associated with identified diseases, other health risks, and absenteeism/presenteeism.

  • Position your program for recognition. How are other organizations addressing health and productivity? Create a vision of how your program could surpass the standard, then share your story in industry journals and submit your program for wellness awards. Highlight management’s role.
  • Reinforce positive management behaviors. Which leaders visibly support the program and are role models for healthy living? Acknowledge managers’ efforts to promote wellness services and encourage employee participation. You can reward them with discounts/coupons for participation fees and suggest their support be part of performance evaluations.
  • Deal with resistant managers at their level of acceptance. Does a manager actively oppose the program? Listen to the concerns and attempt to act on any recommendations. With more lukewarm opposition, focus on areas where managers may be open to providing at least modest support.
  • Give enthusiastic managers tools to become cheerleaders. Which managers are most supportive? Pair those who recognize wellness as a business strategy with more zealous “health nut” peers. Together they can be examples of positive behaviors and share their enthusiasm. Provide these teams with ongoing guidance, resources, and easy-to-implement ideas. Update them on new, leading- edge information. With your support, they’ll become strong wellness champions.
  • Help decision makers support the wellness program. How can you make wellness support easy for leaders? Orient new managers on your services and their responsibilities. Urge top managers to reflect the organization’s commitment to wellness in policies, mission statement, vision, and goals. Provide personalized, convenient wellness experiences for them to try. Encourage departments to set internal wellness goals and review their progress periodically.
  • Become management’s change agent. How can wellness be a tool for improvement? Help departments move toward collaboration and away from turf wars by encouraging managers to think creatively and work together more efficiently. Explore ways the wellness program can enhance other departments’ functions and vice versa. Facilitate systemwide solutions for enhancing employee health and productivity.
  • Make wellness an ongoing agenda item in senior management meetings. What can you do to keep wellness in the forefront? Ask them to include review and approval of recent wellness program activities in meeting minutes, assessment/survey analysis, and executive summaries of major initiatives.