I’m going to be frank with you: I meet a lot of leaders who talk a big game when it comes to workplace wellness. They say all the right things about wanting their employees to prioritize physical and mental health. They even talk about building a culture of wellness. But when it comes to actually leading the charge, these leaders sometimes fall short.
But that culture of wellness isn’t going to happen unless you’re out there on the front lines, practicing what you preach. As the leader, you set the tone, and you get the ball rolling. It falls to you to lead by example.
Take the Lead in Workplace Wellness
Here are some ways to do that:
Embody personal wellness. I’ll start with the obvious one: If you want your team members to take up the cause of wellness, you’ve got to illustrate what that means. If you’re launching a workplace wellness program, you should participate in it yourself. Also, develop personal habits of health—nutritious meals, ample sleep at night, and physical activity each day. Make sure your employees can see your personal health initiatives.
Model balance. An aspect of wellness that often goes underexplored is balance. Simply put, it’s not healthy for anyone to spend 19 hours of each day at the office. Again, you set the tone. Try to leave on time each day, and avoid sending emails after hours. Be a model of boundaries and balance.
Get your managers involved. In addition to your own participation in workplace wellness, involve your managers, as well. Speak with each one directly, and simply let them know how much you’d value their involvement in the workplace wellness program.
Develop the right cues. Think of some ways in which you can “nudge” people toward healthy decisions without being coercive about it. I’ll give you a simple example: Offer healthy snacks at your meetings—a subtle yet meaningful way to ratify your company’s commitment to wellness.
Mention it to new employees. Finally, make sure wellness is part of your onboarding process. Whenever you meet with a new or prospective employee, introduce some of the language of personal wellness. Make it clear from the beginning that this is something your company cares about—and something you value personally, as well.
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