Workplace Wellness

by Liggy Webb

A manager’s responsibility

As a manager or team leader, you have a direct responsibility to implement the programme, if your company has one. But don’t just do what is required of you; find innovative ways to entice your team into being more proactive when it comes to health and wellbeing – you may be able to talk to them individually to get to know their concerns.

First steps

If your organisation has no formal wellness scheme, speak to someone about starting one. Small steps can make a big difference to team morale and wellbeing. Check with your manager; see what is appropriate for you and then use your imagination. Get the team involved.

What are some key things I need to be doing?

  • Engaging people to take positive steps to improve their wellbeing
  • Coming up with ideas on ways to help staff improve their wellbeing
  • Coaching people toward their own wellness/ health goals

What should I expect from my boss?

  • Support
  • Funding
  • Information
  • Time to implement initiatives

What do my team have a right to expect from me?

  • Support
  • Information on options
  • Encouragement
  • Initiative ideas
  • Role model behaviour
  • That you champion wellness

Looking after your own wellbeing is important

  • Yes – walk the talk
  • No smoking
  • No drinking binges/obvious late nights

Charity events

If possible, champion wellness initiatives within your team or department. Take the lead and be a role model. It can be a useful team building exercise to get your people together and suggest, for example, that they take part in a charity activity, such as a 5 km run or a sponsored walk.


It is important to include everyone on some level – not everyone can run a marathon, but some people will be good at designing flyers or fundraising to support their colleagues.

It can give the team a positive focus, especially if it underlines existing company policy on wellness. Let different people choose the charity on different occasions, so the activities are more representative of the interests of all of the team.

Get your team noticed in the company: take photos of the event or let people know what you are doing. Maybe a team member could write an article and share it with the rest of the company on the intranet or in a company publication or on local radio, if this is appropriate.

What are the boundaries?

Don’t worry that you, as a manager, are being expected to ‘interfere’ in the personal lifestyle choices (for example, diet and exercise) of people who work for you. This is not about interfering in people’s private lives and enforcing or imposing views or behaviours on people in a dictatorial manner. It is about raising the awareness of what people can do to take personal responsibility for themselves.

Once people have awareness that x causes y, they can then decide to ignore the knowledge or seek ways to prevent problems or address things they would like to improve. For example, you cannot tell people they can’t smoke, but you can raise awareness of the dangers, explain the benefits of not smoking for them and for their families, and support them if they decide to give up. In some organisations, you can offer incentives and rewards for making positive choices.

It is also possible to have a company no-smoking policy, not allow cigarette breaks or ban people from smoking on the premises, but you can’t stop people, for example, smoking in a park during their lunch break.

The same is true for all lifestyle choices: they are exactly that – individual choices. With education, people are more likely to improve their choices – eat better or exercise more – especially if it becomes part of the culture of the organisation to play sport or go to the gym after work rather than the pub.

The manager can help with providing details of the company wellness policy and programme, explain what is available to staff, give details of other motivational help groups, and provide support and encouragement.