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.