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Managerial Leadership May Be Key to Employee Wellness

Managerial Leadership May Be Key to Employee Wellness

Healthy and happy employees are much more likely to make deadlines and fulfill job expectations. Many companies understand this and have launched employee health and wellness programs. But some initiatives have met with mixed success.

A new Cornell Food and Brand Lab study finds that manager leadership may be the key to employee health programs and goals.

The study finds that while workplace wellness initiatives are common, few have had substantial success in getting individual employees to make healthy changes.

As such, researchers propose an alternate approach that incentivizes managers to promote specific employee wellness changes.

“Instead of focusing on individual wellness outcomes, we propose that it would be more effective if managers were incentivized to create healthier overall work environments with simple, easy to implement actions such as installing a water cooler, providing healthy snacks at meetings, and encouraging work/life balance,” said lead author Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D.

The study surveyed 270 adults with manager roles and found that 68 percent supported the idea of being evaluated by their employee wellness actions.

“Leadership support is essential in any workplace change, including wellness. Most employee wellness initiatives don’t utilize the power of manager leadership — this strategy is unique in that it really taps into the manager’s ability to lead their team to wellness,” said co-author Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.”

Specifically, the study finds that tying just 10 percent of managers’ salary increases to their employee wellness efforts could have a big payoff in terms of creating a culture of health at the workplace, and could tip the scales toward healthier employees.

Source: Cornell Food and Brand Lab
Team meeting photo by shutterstock.

Managerial Leadership May Be Key to Employee Wellness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Managerial Leadership May Be Key to Employee Wellness. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 16 Feb 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.