How to gain senior leader support for employee wellbeing

One of the biggest barriers to getting an employee wellbeing programme off the ground is Executive buy-in. So, how do we go about not only getting their support and that all-important budget, but for them to become champions of our initiative at the same time?

I’m not a believer that senior leaders don’t care about people in their organisation, but I do profess that priorities aren’t always where they should be.

Whether you agree with that statement or not, it doesn’t change the fact that if we want senior leader buy-in, we need to find out what’s important to them right now, and work on changing it (if necessary) later.

Over the years I’ve found that the Me, We, and Us framework can add a whole lot of value when writing compelling business cases for employee wellbeing. That is, what does wellbeing mean to each senior leader, their teams and/or departments, and to the organisation’s objectives.

By tackling these three needs head-on, we have a better understanding of what success looks like, and makes measuring the outcomes of our work so much easier.

Let’s break this down into some actionable chunks..

Joy Junction’s adaptation of the “Me, We, and Us” model showing that wellbeing means something different for the individual, teams and departments, and the organisation.

Wellbeing Priorities for Senior Leaders:

1. Strategic Alignment:

When approaching senior leaders, highlight how your wellbeing programme aligns to their personal and organisational goals. Illustrate how this comprehensive initiative directly contributes to achieving these objectives, and fosters a healthier, more engaged organisation that’s better equipped to drive success.

2. Leadership Legacy:

Highlight the impact on their leadership legacy. Many senior leaders are motivated by creating a lasting, positive mark on the organisation. Position your wellbeing programme as an opportunity to build this legacy, emphasising its long-term significance and positioning leaders as champions of a people-centric culture that performs.

3. Financial and Operational Benefits

Clearly present the financial and operational benefits of investing in wellbeing. Quantify potential cost-savings, such as reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. Make the case that a healthier workforce not only improves employee satisfaction and retention, but also directly contributes to the organisation’s bottom line.

Wellbeing Priorities for Teams and Departments:

1. Employee Involvement:

Showcase how you have actively encouraged teams and departments to contribute to the development of your wellbeing programme, and that it has been aligned to their needs and objectives. Demonstrating that the programme is designed with their input creates a sense of ownership, enthusiasm, and engagement amongst employees.

2. Pilot Programmes:

Propose that your wellbeing programme is implemented as a small-scale pilot within ‘safe’ teams or departments. Pilot programmes provide tangible results and offer an opportunity to address any initial concerns with minimal investment. Use the success of these pilots as evidence to showcase the potential impact on a larger scale.

3. Communication Channels:

Highlight how you can create effective communication channels within teams and departments. Through impactful communications we can ensure high levels of awareness, which should hopefully lead to increased engagement. Regular updates, sharing success stories, and open forums create a conducive environment for team members to engage with and support wellbeing initiatives.

Wellbeing Priorities for the Organisation:

1. Legal and Ethical Compliance:

It goes without saying really but ensure that your wellbeing programmes align with legal and ethical standards. Collaboration with legal and compliance teams is crucial in addressing concerns and showcasing the organisation’s commitment to responsible and compliant wellbeing initiatives. Senior leader will also be happy that you’re taking steps to minimise risk.

2. Metrics and Outcomes:

Whilst sometimes difficult to do, where possible clearly define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of wellbeing programmes and align them to your senior leadership team’s priorities. This data-driven approach provides a compelling case for the positive impact your wellbeing initiatives can have on the organisation in a way that’s important to them.

3. Continuous Improvement:

Emphasise the organisation’s commitment to continuous improvement. Highlight the implementation of wellbeing initiatives as an evolving process that adapts to the changing needs of employees and the organisation. This proactive approach demonstrates flexibility and a dedication to creating a workplace that prioritises wellbeing.

Conclusion:

By emphasising strategic alignment, involving employees, and adhering to legal and ethical standards, organisations can create a compelling case for investing in employee wellbeing and securing the essential buy-in and budget from senior leadership.

The result? A workplace culture that not only thrives but sets the foundation for sustained success.

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