Many organizations and human resources professionals acknowledge that the wellbeing of their workforce—that is, the team’s current state of health and happiness—is important for increasing engagement and reducing turnover. However, recent events have shown that providing employee benefits and wellbeing resources alone is insufficient.

Concerningly, when leaders were recently asked[1] about the impact of COVID-19 and how they plan to promote wellbeing, answers were limited to fitness challenges and physical/emotional health discussion boards. It’s crucial that organizations identify the factors that impact their employees’ wellbeing and begin building a strong wellbeing culture.

The key to changing organizational culture lies with leadership. Leaders are often in a position to influence their employees, enabling them to have a strong effect on culture.

What role do leaders play?

Organizational leaders such as managers and supervisors are significant sources of feedback and support for employees and help to set the tone for culture within their department or area. A supportive culture developed by leadership not only has the power to impact wellbeing but also influences organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction. In a recent organizational study on employee retention,[2] it was found that a lack of supervisor support—meaning that supervisors do not value employee contributions, offer assistance, or care about employee wellbeing—was a major driver in employees’ intention to quit. A separate study on employee wellbeing found that the higher employees rate manager support, the longer they intend to stay with the company and the less likely they are to be a turnover risk.[3][4][5]

Employees need to feel supported

According to research, when employees feel supported by their manager, it makes a difference. A series of wellbeing surveys were conducted in 2020 in various industries to better understand employee wellbeing and provide organizations with key insights. Results highlighted the importance of supervisor support in relation to employee wellbeing: Employees who experienced higher levels of overall wellbeing rated manager support 11% higher than those who were experiencing lower levels of overall wellbeing. In addition, they believed that their managers cared more about their wellbeing.[3][4][5]

Related article: How to process employee feedback

All organization leaders can make a difference

Leaders have a major influence on their organizational culture, which places them in the best position to positively impact employee wellbeing. When an organization is able to move the needle on employee wellbeing, it will see positive impacts on important outcomes like job satisfaction and turnover.

For a FREE, complete guide to how leaders can shape the wellbeing of their employees, click here.

[1] InVista. (2020a). Impact of COVID-19 on how we manage people.

[2] InVista. (2019). [Unpublished raw data for Client 1].

[3] InVista. (2020b). [Unpublished raw data on wellbeing for Beta Client 1].

[4] InVista. (2020c). [Unpublished raw data on wellbeing for Beta Client 2].

[5] InVista. (2020d). [Unpublished raw data on wellbeing for Beta Client 3].