Should managers be trained to lead health initiatives?

by L&D24 Feb 2016
Manager leadership may be the key to better employee health programs and goals, according to a new Cornell Food and Brand Lab study.
The research found that tying just 10% of managers' salary increases to their employee wellness efforts could make a big difference in terms of creating a culture of health in the workplace.
The researchers emphasised that it’s not about making managers responsible for individual health outcomes. Rather, a better approach is providing financial rewards for managers who facilitate opportunities for employees to make choices that improve wellbeing.
The lead author Rebecca Robbins, PhD, said managers should be incentivised to create healthier work environments with “simple, easy to implement actions”.
This includes things such as installing a water cooler, providing healthy snacks at meetings, and encouraging less stress and more work/life balance, she added.
The study involved 270 adults with manager roles from a range of industries such as hospitality, tourism, education, healthcare, and business and administrative services.
They found that 68% supported the idea of being evaluated by their employee wellness actions.
“The modern work environment is no longer just a place where people spend eight hours each day performing their job, but a place where employees want to be inspired to improve professionally but also to grow personally and maintain their health,” said Robbins.
“Employees want to work for companies they feel have their best health interests at heart. Compensation perks energise wellness actions by giving managers a tangible priority to what now is often nothing more than lip service.”
Leadership support is essential in any workplace change, including wellness, added the co-author Brian Wansink, PhD, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.
“Most employee wellness initiatives don't utilise the power of manager leadership - this strategy is unique in that it really taps into the manager's ability to lead their team to wellness.”
L&D Professional has previously reported that mental health alone accounts for more than six million Australians taking sick leave every year.

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