Training is integral to promoting good wellbeing


Line managers fulfill a crucial role in communicating benefits and other wellbeing strategies, as well as identifying potential employee issues.

line manager

As corporate wellbeing programmes continue to gain prominence, the role a line manager plays in encouraging better health and wellbeing at work has come under increased scrutiny. Experts agree that their skills are essential for not only achieving health-related goals and tackling the day-to-day impact of sickness, but in highlighting key areas for improvement and helping business leaders identify problems well before they take hold.

Making managers part of the wellbeing conversation

Constituting the layer between senior managers and employees, line managers are the people who put theory into practice; ensuring that any strategy for health and wellbeing achieves the desired results and providing senior leaders with an accurate view of the working environment at all times.

In the context of health and wellbeing, the most effective line managers are able to:

  • Recognise presenteeism or other work-related issues as they occur
  • Monitor the signs of stress and other burnout symptoms
  • Champion and communicate key health and wellbeing messages or benefits
  • Monitor ensuing productivity and engagement levels at first hand
  • Directly feedback on the effectiveness of any strategy

CIPD’s Absence Management research, carried out in partnership with Simplyhealth, shows a rising number of employers are now giving line managers primary responsibility for managing absence, with around a quarter reporting line manager ownership as one of their top three most effective approaches for managing absence.

Leading by example

In order to communicate the advantages of health benefits more effectively, line manager buy-in is essential – enabling businesses to achieve a similar mindset to the one they are hoping to promote to their employees.

Close attention must also be paid to existing management practices. Attempting to communicate better health and wellbeing in a flawed environment will have little impact on employee engagement and hinder take up.

This is illustrated by a 2014 YouGov survey conducted for mental health charity MIND, which found the number one reason for work-related stress was frustration with poor management. It's clear then that any health and wellbeing strategy should focus on improvements across the board and not just in isolated pockets. 

Key tips for this include:

  • Supporting managers with the training needed to communicate plans and benefits effectively – as well as enhancing their own skills and relationships
  • Being clear about actions – and emphasise that line managers should not feel obliged to become counsellors, but approachable advocates of good health and wellbeing
  • Working to create a more open and transparent environment
  • Encouraging closer ties between HR and line managers
  • Involving line managers with the whole health and wellbeing vision – giving them some real context for benefits and messages
  • Boosting management buy-in with findings from employee surveys and other data (such as sickness information)

 This article was supplied by SimplyHealth. 


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