GREAT QUESTION! LET’S DIVE INTO THIS CRITICAL NEW ROLE IN ORGANISATIONS
It’s no secret that workplace wellbeing is now one of the biggest issues facing organisations.
BMW’s Next Generation Leadership research of 500 business leaders reported wellbeing was one of the five crucial components New Zealand business leaders can embrace today to succeed tomorrow.
One third of the business leaders surveyed did not believe there is enough of a focus on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. One in five business leaders believed workplace wellness or mental health should be the highest priority for the next generation of business leaders.
In a study of 800 respondents, Diversity New Zealand found wellbeing was identified as the most important diversity issue facing organisations. In more detail, 81% reported the mental health of employees as the most important issue, while 79% reported it was stress, and 74% reported it was work/life balance.
Clearly, it’s a top agenda item. And while mental health was already on the horizon for many organisations pre-COVID, the pandemic has intensified the focus.
ROW conducted research on behalf of the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum on factors and helped and hindered CEOs through the early days of the pandemic in 2020. Just over half (57%) of respondents reported health and wellbeing was the most common challenge they faced immediately before COVID-19, while 74% reported it became the top challenge once lockdown hit.
The pandemic may have sped up the focus on wellbeing, but it’s here to stay as organisations compete in the war for talent, navigate global uncertainty, and embrace workers from the next generation who have had greater exposure to mental health literacy opportunities.
With issues like burnout on the rise, wellbeing is a critical organisational issue that needs proper investment and appropriate resourcing.
Enter the workplace wellbeing manager
While wellbeing is on the radar of nearly every CEO, it nearly always falls to a specialist in the organisation to develop a wellbeing strategy and oversee the day-to-day management of the program.
Common role titles include:
- Health, safety and wellbeing manager, adviser, or business partner
- Organisational development manager, adviser, or business partner
- Health and wellbeing manager, adviser, or business partner
- Human resources manager, adviser, or business partner
Some organisations have taken it a step further and recruited a dedicated wellbeing manager. Accounting giant Xero recently appointed a Head of Wellbeing and is expanding the team while dairy export giant Fonterra has had a dedicated team for some time.
In other organisations, responsibility may fall to an informal committee of employees keen to make a difference or a network of wellbeing champions who combine the work with other unrelated functional responsibilities (e.g. operational or technical roles).
What do workplace wellbeing managers do?
Broadly, workplace wellbeing managers:
- Develop workplace wellbeing strategies to address risk areas. Strategies align to organisational objectives and have goals, measures, and targets.
- Design and deliver workplace wellbeing programs and initiatives.
- Develop leadership capability and improve organisational health and wellbeing literacy through learning and training programmes.
- Develop and manage a wellbeing support model with appropriate internal and external support.
- Measure employee wellbeing and evaluate workplace wellbeing programs and initiatives.
- Undertake reporting to senior leaders and boards on strategy progress and any risk areas.
- Communicate about wellbeing with employees and develop promotional campaigns.
- Manage relationships with stakeholders, including senior leaders, departments such as internal communications, and external providers.
- Manage a budget and seek additional funding from senior leaders as required,
- Stay up-to-date on external workplace wellbeing campaigns (e.g. mental health awareness week)
- Organise wellbeing events and may facilitate wellbeing information sessions or support external speakers.