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Why Your Company Needs a Chief Wellbeing Officer

With the steadily increasing levels of stress, burnout, turnover, and disengagement, executive teams are increasingly focussed on providing wellness amenities to employees. Unfortunately, traditional wellness strategies have not improved working conditions, stress levels, and the wellbeing of employees. Hiring a Chief Wellbeing Officer is the first step towards fixing the corporate wellness disaster that companies are currently facing. 

This new executive level role of Chief Wellbeing Officer (CWO) is gaining popularity in progressive organizations. Sometimes called “Head of Wellbeing” the role is strong indication that an organisation and its board are taking the health, happiness, and engagement of employees seriously. It’s a decision to move beyond “checking boxes” to generating tangible, positive improvements in wellbeing, performance and ROI across the entire organisation.

Let’s look at the key responsibilities of a Chief Wellbeing Officer and why having one is essential for the growth and prosperity of your people and organization.

Chief Wellbeing Officer Image (CWO)

What is a Chief Wellbeing Officer

As a C-suite executive, the Chief Wellbeing Officer (CWO) is responsible for overseeing and promoting the holistic health, happiness, and overall wellbeing of an organization’s employees. This role goes beyond the traditional Human Resources function and focuses on creating a supportive work environment that fosters physical, mental, emotional, and social wellness.

The CWO works closely with leaders and teams in human resources (HR), learning & development (L&D), DEIB, operations, finance, communications, and all other departments to establish an organizational strategy around wellbeing, engagement, and performance while operationalizing the systems, processes, and programs that will produce tangible results for people and the organization.

At its heart, the CWO role is about helping the organization view its current business systems, processes, functional structure, services, and products through a lens of wellbeing. This lens includes its people, customers, and the impact and influence it has on the communities in which it operates.

 

Key Areas of Focus for a Chief Wellbeing Officer

Strategic Leadership:

A CWO develops and implements a comprehensive and measurable wellbeing strategy that aligns with the company’s mission, vision, goals and values. This involves evaluating the current state of workplace wellbeing, identifying areas that need improvement, and creating initiatives that enhance the overall employee and work experience.

Of particular importance for leadership is ensuring that leaders at all levels clearly understand the role they play in employee wellbeing and the power they have each day to raise the performance level of their team in a positive and sustainable way. The CWO facilitates the creation and ongoing development of leadership skills that contribute to a growth mindset and high performing, healthy habits that are designed to help people and teams thrive.

 

Engagement & Connection:

It’s well known that engaged employees that feel a strong emotional connection to their workplace are more productive, innovative, and loyal. The CWO collaborates with HR, communications, and other key stakeholders on efforts to boost community, connection, and engagement. This starts with deep listening, hearing the feedback, concerns, and challenges of employees, and engaging them in respectful and productive dialogue.

It also includes providing a living wage, building a strong culture of gratitude and recognition, and engaging employees in important workplace decisions. The outcome is a deeper understanding of how to work together in the goal of improving job satisfaction, finding purpose, dignity, meaning, and happiness in our work.

 

A Safe & Secure Workplace:

This goes far beyond ensuring the Occupational health and safety of employees, to psychological safety, a culture of respect, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), mental health advocacy and support. This also includes strong mental health advocacy. While awareness around mental health is higher than ever, many employees and leaders still struggle with unsupportive and even toxic workplace environments. The CWO works to reduce stigma, provide resources, and create an environment where employees feel comfortable seeking support and all employees feel valued and respected for their unique backgrounds and perspectives.

 

Physical Wellness:

Mental and physical health are closely connected with healthy employees having higher energy levels, reduced absenteeism, and improved focus.. The CWO collaborates with facilities teams to curate healthy physical spaces while working with leaders across the organization to operationalize strategic movement education, skills and habits throughout the work day. 

 

Cultivating Growth and Opportunity:

Building on the limitations of current L&D models, the CWO facilitates the availability of timely, relevant, and high quality training, development, feedback, and open communication pathways. This includes clearly outlined and fair opportunities for career advancement.

 

Work-Life Balance:

Burnout sucks for people and productivity. The CWO advocates for flexible work arrangements, greater autonomy, supportive vacation policies, and other practices that encourage employees to find a balance that supports their health, wellbeing, and performance in all areas of life.

 

Data-Driven Insights: 

A CWO leverages data and feedback to measure the impact of wellbeing initiatives. This allows for continuous improvement and the adaptation of targeted strategies based on employee and organizational needs. In order to do this, a Chief Wellbeing Officer will work with key departments such as HR, operations, IT, and senior leadership teams to implement systems and processes for timely and relevant data collection and analysis.

 

 

Why Your Company Needs a Chief Wellbeing Officer

Many of these functions are already happening within siloed parts of your organisation. However, few companies have all of these areas optimized. Even fewer businesses have a C-level leader solely responsible for overseeing the strategy, coordination, implementation, and evolution of these disparate organizational systems. That’s where the Chief Wellbeing Officer is invaluable.

The person in this role must have a solid understanding of all aspects of a business with the background and training to look at the business through a lens of wellbeing. This allows a practical, data driven approach to business strategy and operations that benefits everyone involved (the company, people, customers, stakeholders, and community).

With this strategy and structure in place, your business will reap the following benefits:

Greater Employee Performance: Put simply, health, happy, engaged, and psychologically safe people perform better, for longer, and enjoy doing it!

Attract Top Talent: Today’s job market is VERY competitive. Workplace wellbeing and corporate culture are a key factor for prospects. Having a CWO communicates your commitment to employee health and can be a strong selling point.

Reduced Turnover: When employees feel supported and valued, they’re more likely to stay with the company. A CWO helps in reducing turnover rates by creating a positive work environment.

Improved Organizational Culture: A CWO plays a crucial role in shaping the company’s culture. A culture of wellbeing fosters collaboration, innovation, and a sense of belonging.

Risk Mitigation: Addressing the massive issue of employee burnout and mental health challenges dramatically reduces long term business risk. Chief Wellbeing Officers will help prevent issues that might lead to legal and financial risks for the organization.

Enhanced Industry Reputation: Hiring a CWO highlights your commitment to employee wellbeing and attracts positive attention from the media, potential partners, and customers.

 

Let’s face it, employee wellbeing is one of the most pressing issues in corporations today. It’s no longer a perk that’s “nice to have”. It’s an essential strategic pillar to business profitability and sustained organizational performance. 

The Chief Wellbeing Officer is a crucial advocate for both employee health and happiness AND organizational success. Investing in the wellbeing of your employees will nurture their growth, while fostering a more resilient, engaged, and thriving workforce. This is the fuel that will drive your company forward in the long run.

 

We’ve learned so much about how to optimize health, happiness and performance at work. The Chief Wellbeing Officer’s perspective and influence from the C-suite will harness the amazing power of people and business.

The Easy Way to Find a Chief Wellbeing Officer

 

Like any executive role, finding the right person is key. With that being said, I encourage you to look outside your current concept of wellness and HR. The successful candidate must have a unique set of skills that blend a health and wellness background with people, business, and executive level operations. If you want to hire a full time CWO, I’m happy to consult with you to find the right fit for your company and desired culture.

If a full time CWO Role isn’t feasible right now or you would like to test the model, another option is to hire a fractional Chief Wellbeing Officer. This is a key part of my consulting. If this is of interest, I encourage you to contact me for a short call. We can discuss what a fractional CWO can look like for your business.

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