Leading with Wellbeing: A Guide To Leading Like a Chief Wellness Officer

Article by Ayla Langer, SFive Contributing Writer

Workplace wellness is more important than ever. As we all face continued stress as a result of COVID-19, it’s necessary for employers to take a wide-lensed approach towards monitoring and improving employee wellbeing. Through acknowledging that health spans mental, physical, emotional, and financial factors, companies can integrate ways to provide employees with the tools to better cope with life’s many challenges. Here are some ways that organizations can stay ahead of the health curve, enhancing company culture, and promoting longevity along the way.

Dedicate a Chief Wellness Officer role.

Wellness is gaining new attention in the C-Suite. In the healthcare sector specifically, clinics across the country have already started adopting a C-Suite position to address physician burnout: Chief Wellness Officer (CWO) or Wellbeing Officer.

In the role, a CWO constantly asks the question: How does this affect the health and wellbeing of our community? In this position, born out of the notion that health is the wealth of an organization, the CWO has the authority, budget, and staff to integrate wellbeing initiatives and evaluate policies and procedures for identifying and reducing burnout. Initiatives like providing enhanced mental health education and resources, offering flexible workplace policies and compassionate leadership training are powerful steps towards creating a culture of wellness.

In order to help individuals map out how to scale the CWO’s duties, Stanford University offers a workshop to prepare leaders in the role to have expertise in change management, strategic planning, and leadership development. During this class, students learn the necessary skills to spearhead wellness efforts and customize strategies towards cultivating efficient practice environments based on hospital-specific needs. Learning objectives are achieved using the Stanford Physician Wellness framework, enabling students to clearly define the scope of wellness efforts through understanding their organization, building a team, identifying gaps, and establishing a communication method to meet desired performance metrics.

In the field, the CWO role not only impacts the day-to-day wellness of employees but also clients. By creating and maintaining system-wide cultures of wellness, physicians are able to provide better care, leading to enhanced client satisfaction. When clinicians are taken care of, they are able to provide patients with better care. The CWO role ultimately reveals how the new competitive advantage in business is wellness. Happy employees build better businesses and produce more efficient outcomes. Let’s explore how this C-Suite role can transfer directly to your business structure.

Lead like a Chief Wellness Officer (CWO)

If the CWO role is not in the company budget, advocating for wellbeing specialization in various roles in your company will certainly have a return on investment. A few ways for an HR or community manager to continually ask “How can we better support ourselves and others within our businesses?” and lead like a CWO are:

1.) Define the current wellness state of the organization.

As previously featured in an SFive Blog, the culture audit can be a great method to take a company-wide “wellness temperature check”. Through utilizing focus groups, entity-level interviews, and anonymous surveys, organizations can gain insight into how current management styles, dedication to diversity and inclusion, and approaches to decision making are shaping company culture. Ultimately, these markers of culture have a direct effect on employee satisfaction and well-being. The culture audit will provide the framework to identify a baseline for what metrics will be used to gauge the impact of specialized wellbeing campaigns.

2.) Establish why wellbeing is important

Defining a clear sense of purpose for wellbeing initiatives in line with company-wide value systems will contribute to a stronger organizational culture and happier employees. At SFive, our Core Values are the driving force behind our passion, mission, and purpose. We incentivize authenticity, slow growth, trust, commitment, and positive energy, and continuously work to ensure that our team feels taken care of on all fronts. Merging purpose-driven characteristics with day-to-day activities promotes a success-driven and comfortable environment for all. Personalized snail-mail, diversity and inclusion check-ups, and long-term personal and professional growth conversations are ways that SFive aligns our value system with daily organizational structure.

3.) Get to action

Digging into wellness means more than just encouraging openness about mental health and offering stress-relieving resources like counseling and healthy activities. Managers have the additional option to:

  • Customize wellness initiatives to the needs of your workforce. Know your demographic when creating wellness initiatives. Team-specific health metrics recognized through culture audits will provide the framework to implement team-specific programs. Wellness to a group of CAs will look different than a company-wide initiative- a TikTok dance challenge may be fun for one team but might not fit well with another. Being in tune with the needs of employees across experience levels, teams and sites will be necessary for understanding nuanced needs and creating strategies to meet them.

  • Create excitement for wellness. The increased positive conversation around wellness goes beyond lunchtime yoga sessions; making work a place of humanity and compassion where individuals can accept themselves is something to embrace with enthusiasm. In order to foster positive health conversation, managers themselves will need to be in tune with tone and be sensitive to atmosphere changes to explore and embrace challenges with resilience, patience, and welcome. Wellness meetings, email check-ups and scheduled individual time with employees are great ways to share excitement and commitment to your company’s health.

  • Create human culture rather than corporate culture. The power to decide to participate in wellness initiatives should always be in the hands of the employees. Rather than demanding a need to participate in wellness initiatives, creating an environment that promotes autonomy on wellness fronts promotes a human culture versus a corporate culture. Clearly identifying and branding wellness initiatives will allow your team to know when a message is health-related over the general day-to-day business, allowing them to participate at will and be able to access the resources more easily.

Community managers can simultaneously act as wellness managers by integrating these considerations into day-to-day operations procedures. As your company plans for years to come, wellness initiatives are a legitimate cause to budget for and will facilitate more productive business in the short and long term. More than ever, the property management industry is focused on wellbeing, and allocating for more resources on the front is more important than ever.

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