Best practices include solid health benefits such as subsidized fitness programs for employees
What roles do leaders play in corporate wellness?
GV: Leaders have both a personal and organizational role to
play. Often part of the magic to make corporate wellness stick is
in the behaviour modelling of the leaders. Personally, they need
to make wellness a lifestyle habit and model these behaviours.
Organizationally, they need to promote and support the corporate
wellness values in the organization. Whether they realize it or not,
leaders help organizations and employees set boundaries because
their actions define what wellness means to the organization.
Some examples of how leaders can help set organizational
boundaries are when they or their employees are pulled in many
different directions by competing obligations. Leaders need to
help establish boundaries between work and home life, their social
life, sports and hobbies. Organizations with strong corporate well-ness
values will have leaders who follow protocols to help with
this, particularly around the use of mobile phones and other por-table
This technology certainly has its place – making communica-tion
more efficient and instantaneous, especially for those whose
positions require frequent travel. However, the expectation
shouldn’t be that an employee is therefore available 24/7, since this
runs counter to the concepts of individual wellness and work-life
integration. These devices can promote a culture of workahol-ism
which isn’t sustainable, either individually or organizationally,
especially given the value and beliefs of many of the current gener-ation
and virtually all of the next generation of leaders.
What areas can an organization consider addressing to
better support organizational wellness?
GV: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. However, it starts with
ensuring leaders are trained on the importance of wellness so they
can develop their own wellness strategies to be prepared to foster a
culture that promotes wellness among their employees.
Best practices include solid health benefits, including a fitness
centre or subsidized fitness program, employee assistance pro-grams,
training and development, career transition assistance if an
employee is downsized and so on. This type of support helps take
both leaders and staff members to a whole new quality of life in
To make Canada’s Top 100 employers list, organizations are
rated on the basis of eight different categories: Physical workspace;
work atmosphere and social; health, financial and family benefits;
vacation and time off; employee communications; performance
management; training and skills development; and community
involvement. These categories are a good match for what most
employees look for in organizational wellness.
What role does stress management play in
GV: How employees are able to manage stress is an important
aspect of wellness. The harsh reality is that a great majority of
our illnesses are stress related. Dr. Dean Ornish has done more
than three decades of research demonstrating that comprehensive
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