Welcome to the final installment of our Executive Wellness Leadership series. In our previous installments, we discussed the importance of executive wellness, and executives serving as leaders for Wellness Champion networks. In this final article, we’ll lay out the action steps to become an executive or senior level wellness champion.
The first step to becoming an executive/senior leader wellness champion is to “lead by example.” That means you must focus on your own wellness journey. Some good jumping-off points for busy executives include:
- Getting more sleep. Well-rested executives are not only more focused at the office, they are also less likely to overeat, react poorly to stress and/or take out their stress on employees and family members. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been linked to high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, strokes and other serious medical conditions, so sacrificing sleep in favor of extra office hours should never be an option.
- Start (or get back to) exercising. Exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure level but also helps with stress management. Even something as simple as a daily walk, or hitting 10,000 steps a day (hello, stairs…goodbye elevator) can make you feel more in control of your health—and the rest of your life!
- Take breaks (both short and long ones.) Life as an executive or senior leader can be stressful, and over 90% of execs polled by Forbes magazine reported managing this problem by “removing themselves, physically or mentally, from the source of that stress.”  Whether that means regular lunch-time park visits or, better yet, actually taking advantage of those built-up vacation days, it’s crucial to set aside time in which you can’t and won’t think about the parts of your job that stress you the most.
These are vital steps for cultivating your well-being and leading by example. And, as you progress through your wellness journey, you will undoubtedly discover the importance of employee well-being for the optimal health and growth of your organization. Hopefully, this illumination will inspire and motivate you and other leaders in your organization to take the next steps towards becoming an Executive Wellness Champion!
Making the Leap to “Executive Wellness Champion”
First, you should begin by identifying employee wellness needs and interests. There are many ways you can work towards this goal, such as forming focus groups with employees from all levels of your organization or implementing strategic surveys to garner employee feedback on their own wellness needs and concerns. You can even use your personal powers of observation (although it’s equally if not more important to directly ask for employee feedback). Once you’ve identified common wellness interests and needs, you will be armed with insights to move forward as a wellness champion.
The next step is to address and support those identified interest areas via inclusive and employee-centric workplace wellness initiatives. For example, if healthy eating and personal fitness are areas of interest for most of your employees, you might offer Lunch and Learns, campaigns or coaching programs addressing mindful eating and company-wide movement challenges such as the “Spring Into Action” Wellness challenge created by our Certified Master Workplace Wellness Ambassador, Tammy Copenhaver with the support of her CEO, Sara Medley of Mountain-Pacific Quality Health.
The key is to start small with employee-identified concerns and interests so that the buy-in and engagement will be maximized. From there, you can start to build momentum and nurture an atmosphere of empowerment.
Check out my inspiring interview with Tammy and her CEO, Sara Medley, for ideas on how to create an executive-supported wellness campaign for your organization.
( Interview link >> https://bit.ly/2KFKZRo )
Hear’s what Tammy had to say about the impact of their wellness program on employee morale!
“In 2019, we distributed an electronic questionnaire to garner feedback from staff about our well-being program.We were pleasantly surprised by the outcome of one of the questions.
We asked what benefits our staff received from the program’s information and offerings.
Employee morale is crucial to any organization and so when our staff noted our program contributed to better morale (i.e. reported as one of the top two benefits of our challenge), we considered it a huge success.
For Mountain-Pacific leadership and myself, we feel our wellness program and campaign success is the combined result of offering employee-centric programs, disseminating comprehensive information on a regular basis, planting seeds for a culture of well-being throughout our entire organization, and having our CEO and senior staff ‘lead by example’.
As Mountain-Pacific’s Wellness Ambassador, I personally consider the positive impact on our employee morale one of the most important results and an indication we are on the right track.”
Also, in response to this Executive Wellness Leadership series, Chuck Gillespie, CEO of the National Wellness Institute was kind enough to message me with some additional considerations for senior leaders to be extra mindful of when developing inclusive, employee-centric work cultures (see below).
“The fact that companies offer meditation rooms and fitness facilities are great, but if the culture is to not use them except during lunch or before/after work, then the utilization is very small. To get supervisors to have walking meetings requires directors, VP’s and C-suite to do the same. Not just top-down leadership, but leadership throughout the whole organization. And it is critical that we review concepts with a multicultural lens – people with disabilities, lower socio-economic issues, faith, as well as gender, age, race, etc. Too many of the wellness programs today tend to be geared toward the healthy and those who are more affluent.”
If you keep these aforementioned goals and program considerations in mind, you will likely garner wider participation from members of your organization. And once your employees begin making healthy baby steps (as we often call them), you can start to ramp up wellness offerings, by developing inclusive “multi-dimensional” wellness programs!This means different things to different organizations, but some examples include: inviting employee groups to a weekend-long digital detox retreat, such as one recently facilitated by our Certified Master Workplace Wellness Ambassador Ruvi Makuni, or encouraging employee participation in Big Bike races for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, as organized each year by our Certified Workplace Wellness Ambassador Kelly Goodwin for her employer, Number Ten Architect Group. The key here is to find fun, inclusive ways to encourage a team approach to healthier living and to fostering a culture of wellness for your organization.
As you and fellow senior leaders embrace personal and organizational well-being, you can work together in developing wellness champions throughout all levels of your organization and have them support you in fostering full engagement in wellness offerings. This, in turn, will help cultivate a company-wide culture of health and inclusivity, which is, at the end of the day, what Wellness Champion Programs are all about.
Interested in Executive Wellness Leadership training or Executive Wellness Coaching for yourself or your organization? Connect with us to receive our EWLP Overview video and to schedule a Discovery Consult.
Executive Wellness Leadership Series:
About the Author:
Lisa Kelly, President, Workplace Wellness Centre of Excellence (a division of KWC Inc.), has been cultivating healthy changes within workplaces and with personal clients for over 20 years. Through her “Workplace Wellness Leadership Certification Series” and Executive Wellness Leadership Programs, Lisa’s mission is to create an innovative and collaborative landscape for global workplace wellness that fosters employee-driven, results-oriented wellness solutions to benefit employers, employees, and communities at large.
Chapman, Wyatt, “5 Wellness Tips (and One Bonus Suggestion) for Execs,” https://veraviafit.com/2013/11/05/5-wellness-tips-and-one-bonus-suggestion-for-execs/
 McDowell-Larson, Sharon, “Six Ways to Beat Executive Job Stress,” https://www.forbes.com/2009/09/30/executive-job-stress-leadership-ceonetwork-ccl.html#3d9321405faf