By Kimberly Silva, Senior R&D Consultant at Talogy


Implementing a wellness programme with various perks and policies is challenging. While some organisations report success, many say their programs fall flat.

According to Gartner’s 2021 EVP Benchmarking Survey, although 8 in 10 employees have access to wellness offerings, only 23% use them. Leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of their wellness programme and fostering employee wellbeing. Thus, it is crucial to understand how to develop more effective programmes that enable people to navigate challenges, overcome adversity, and thrive in the workplace.

Today’s leaders understand the importance of wellbeing. When it comes to their workforce, leaders seem to genuinely care about the health and happiness of their people and want them to succeed. As a result, countless organisations have heavily invested in wellness initiatives and continue to do so.

However, many initiatives are struggling to achieve their desired results. Only 22% of organisations say their employee wellness initiatives are highly effective and only 44% consider them moderately effective.

Further research by Legal & General indicates that wellness initiatives often fail because of miscommunication and mis-steps by managers and executives. Leaders are unsure how wellness initiatives fit within their company’s culture and don’t know how to meaningfully address what’s not working.

Meanwhile, employees say that they do not take advantage of wellness offerings because they are typically unclear, inconvenient, or impersonal. Some employees also worry they may be stigmatised for using benefits, or they feel alienated from the available options.

This is disheartening to learn, especially when recent studies repeatedly show that nearly 45% of people experience substantial daily stress, more than 80% suffer from work-related stress, and overall employee welfare is on the decline. This begs the question, what do employees truly need?


There is a salient theme behind every effective wellness programme – visible and consistent support from leaders. Leaders who prioritise support are more likely to make a positive impact on employee wellbeing. So, what should leaders do? Here are three ways leaders can support employee wellbeing and help make wellness programmes and initiatives work.

(1) Focus on the Root Cause

With good intention, organisations have readily adopted programmes that offer everything from fitness challenges and nutrition services to flexible hours and remote work. While these offerings are valuable, they do not address the root cause of stress and dissatisfaction. Leaders need to understand why their employees are exhausted and overwhelmed, how long they have felt this way, and what they have been doing to successfully (or unsuccessfully) cope with their feelings. Understanding can help leaders shape wellness programmes and get employees the right type and amount of support they need.

(2) Participate in Employees’ Wellness Journey

Most leaders are good at endorsing wellness initiatives at their organisation. They publicly express their support, point out resources, and encourage employees to care for themselves. However, participation generally stops there. Supportive leaders go beyond advocating benefits and thoughtfully explore their personal impact on employee wellbeing. They acknowledge how their own behaviours promote or hinder others’ welfare and work to better themselves for their team. They build authentic connections with their people and reinforce the notion that they are not alone on their wellness journey.

(3) Counterbalance Unintended Consequences

Even the most effective wellness policies can have unintended consequences. Often, a policy can alleviate one problem, while simultaneously creating another. For example, remote work can save time, reduce expenses, and boost productivity, but also create feelings of isolation and guilt for poorly maintaining work-life boundaries. Leaders can support employees and mitigate unintended consequences by taking strategic actions to offset negative effects. For example, if the team is largely remote, a leader can reach out to people on a more regular and personal basis or create opportunities for team members to formally and informally collaborate.


While leaders play a pivotal role in employee wellbeing, they too face unique challenges. The demands of their role can be intense, causing them to neglect their own welfare and lose empathy for others. It’s essential for leaders to remember that self-care and empathy are not only for their team but also for themselves. Nurturing their own welfare will give them the capacity to form connections, show compassion for others, be accommodating, and perform all the behaviours employees expect and appreciate.

In conclusion, the key to wellbeing in the workplace may not come from the perks or policies themselves, but from the support leaders provide. Leaders who embrace their role and understand their impact on employees’ wellbeing are best equipped to create a healthy, happy, and prosperous workplace.


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