The Role of Leaders in Promoting Wellbeing: An Intervention Evaluation

The costs of employee healthcare expenditures and lost productivity pose substantial financial challenges to organisations; however, organisations that focus on improving employee wellbeing have an opportunity to decrease these costs and reap potential performance benefits associated with increased employee wellbeing. Thus, organisations are now looking for opportunities to foster positive wellbeing within their workforces through specific, targeted interventions. Wellbeing interventions targeted at team members are often successful at improving wellbeing as well as other important organisational outcomes such as increased productivity and decreased turnover. Applying this research, we can capitalise on the importance of leaders as workplace role models by assessing the impact of a leader-focused wellbeing intervention.

In this study, we developed an intervention that introduced strategies to leaders so they could more effectively support employees who may be experiencing wellbeing challenges, and also develop techniques to enhance resilience, both for personal application and facilitation of resilience within their teams. To evaluate the impact of this intervention, leaders completed surveys prior to, immediately following, and one month following the intervention, resulting in 141 surveys that could be linked across all time points.

Results show that the intervention was largely successful. Leaders indicated that the intervention was useful and provided them with practical and relevant examples to help them apply these skills immediately in their jobs. Leaders also reported learning significantly more about wellbeing and resilience than they knew before the intervention, and attitudes toward mental health stigma significantly decreased. One month following the intervention, leaders reported engaging in more personal wellbeing behaviors as well as behaviours that support the wellbeing and resilience of their team members, such as having informal “check-ins” with the team. Many leaders (64%) also reported increased wellbeing, 54% indicated an increase in productivity, and 62% indicated an increase in the quality of their relationships with their team members. Finally, leaders reported significantly more confidence to manage their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of others.

Overall, the intervention successfully facilitated leaders’ development of key coping and resiliency skills that they can use personally as well as in support of their teams. Furthermore, the intervention also impacted productivity and relationship quality, aligning with previous research that a wellbeing intervention may have additional benefits to an organisation. By creating champions for wellbeing, and helping leaders understand how they can support the wellbeing of their teams, a wellbeing intervention can serve as a way to facilitate a strong, positive wellbeing culture.