5 roles of CEOs and leaders who are reshaping organisational wellbeing

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In today’s complex business environment, shareholder value is no longer the only north star. As Lurie and Tegelberg from McKinsey & Company have said, modern leaders “must focus on co-creating meaningful value with and for all stakeholders, expanding beyond shareholders to include customers, employees, partners and our broader society”.

As part of this expanded responsibility, health-savvy CEOs and leaders are prioritising employee and organisational wellbeing due to the ripple effect that positive wellbeing outcomes can have across their entire ecosystem.

5 roles of CEOs and leaders who are reshaping organisational wellbeing

In essence, CEOs and leaders who are reshaping organisational wellbeing have become agents of change who fulfil five key roles:

Role 1: Embracer

An agent of change for employee wellbeing embraces, not delegates, their responsibility for wellbeing. They “stay personally close to the latest science, data, and information, creating for themselves a human dashboard of sorts and listening for actionable insight. At this time of prolonged crisis, too much is at stake to outsource crucial decisions, or to delegate being informed and aware,” said Abrams, Firth, Lu, and Phelps from Deloitte.

With their team, embracers study best practices (such as ISO 45003) and deep-dive into current organisational initiatives, systems and support offerings to:

  • Improve their wellbeing practices and processes:
    • Step 1: Define what wellbeing means for their organisation;
    • Step 2: Determine wellbeing parameters, measurable attributes and indicators;
    • Step 3: Establish a baseline and lead a gap analysis;
    • Step 4: Improve how their organisation measures wellbeing;
    • Step 5: Demonstrate progress and learnings;
    • Step 6: Benchmark externally; and
    • Step 7: Continuously review and improve;
  • Magnify the positive impact on their people;
  • Enhance their brand’s reputation as a wellbeing trailblazer; and
  • Inspire wellbeing advancements in the broader community.

They feel the gravity of the “direct link between productivity levels and the general health and wellbeing of the workforce” and become a voracious learner in this space.

Role 2: Investigator

An agent of change for wellbeing is an investigator of truth, not a believer of myths. They look beyond media hype, vendor sales talk, and internal rationale defending ‘the way it’s always done’.

They impress upon their teams the importance of evidence and rigour around all wellbeing business decisions and are rewarded with a culture of better-informed business cases, greater confidence in budget allocations, and reduced organisational risk. 

Role 3: Challenger

An agent of change for organisational wellbeing is a challenger who refuses to accept the status quo. They have “ambitions bigger than [their] conventional resources and [are] prepared to do something bold, usually against the existing conventions or codes of [their] category, to break through,” according to The Challenger Project, published by global strategic consultancy, eatbigfish.

They are an early adopter who always looks for more innovative, effective and scalable ways to support their people. Their overarching mission is to seek out or build the most compelling wellbeing support framework possible.

They are not afraid to trial a four-day work week,  abandon their office attendance policy, or reinvent their employee assistance program (EAP) when as little as five per cent of employees use EAPs.

Role 4: Integrator

An agent of change for wellbeing doesn’t pass the baton to their People and Culture team and then consider the job done. They “put health directly on the CEO agenda – where it belongs,” said Deloitte.

Internally, they integrate wellbeing into their decision-making processes, embed accountability across all parts of their organisation, empower the collection of qualitative and quantitative data, and give their wellbeing teams the profile, training and budget they need to make a genuine difference.

Externally, they promote the alignment of wellbeing goals across supply chain partners and provide mentoring to community stakeholders at an earlier stage of their wellbeing journey – to integrate wellbeing insights across the entire ecosystem in which they operate.

Role 5: Advocator

An agent of change for organisational wellbeing makes it their mission to ‘walk the talk’ and be vocal about embedding wellbeing into organisational culture and financial decisions.

They know, as former U.S. president Barack Obama famously said, “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.

Internally, they assume an ongoing advocacy role to keep employee wellbeing at the forefront of conversations across their organisation.

Externally, they champion the importance of collective wellbeing and the dismantlement of health care barriers across the community.

Source: Sonder survey (conducted by McGregor Tan, October 2021)

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To read more about the roles and characteristics of CEOs and leaders who are reshaping organisational wellbeing, we invite you to download our new guide here which will:

  • Explain five roles of CEOs and leaders who are reshaping organisational wellbeing;
  • Share case studies from Accor, Atlassian and Woolworths; and
  • Help you understand how to lead and build a healthier organisation.

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About Sonder

Sonder is an Active Care technology company that helps organisations improve the wellbeing of their people so they perform at their best. Our mobile app provides immediate, 24/7 support from a team of safety, medical, and mental health professionals - plus onsite help for time-sensitive scenarios. Accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS), our platform gives leaders the insights they need to act on tomorrow's wellbeing challenges today.

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