The missing role in every business to create happier teams

A quick summary:

In the aftermath of 2021, and as we begin to navigate the start of the new year, it’s become ever more apparent that poor wellbeing in the workplace can be detrimental to business productivity and performance - however, the solution lies in a role often missing from a business... 

And as cases of burnout and workplace stress continue to rise, Headspace reported a growing gap of mental health initiatives offered to employees in 2021, since the height of the pandemic in 2020. 

With this in mind, there appears to be a missing role in every business to supercharge healthier, happier teams: Chief Wellbeing Officer or CWO. 

In fact, while there has been a growing gap in mental health initiatives since the height of the pandemic, the report by Headspace suggests more companies getting on board in offering mental health benefits overall.

On that note, companies showing a serious dedication to wellbeing in the workplace in 2022, are also serious about longevity. The demand for healthier work-life balance has never been greater, and that’s where a Chief Wellbeing Officer, CWO or VP comes into play.


The rise of Chief Wellbeing Officers

Not so long ago, a quick Google search for ‘Chief Wellbeing Officer’, would likely return very little results. Now, there are more than 35 million results for ‘Chief Wellbeing Officer’ which Google can throw your way. Not only this, there’s around 1,300 people searching for ‘wellbeing jobs’ every month in the UK alone.

That’s not because wellbeing has never been vital, both in and outside the workplace, but it’s become a requisite for businesses who don’t only want to survive, but thrive - and in some cases, avoid sinking completely. 

In the modern day workplace, employees are working longer, suffering from stress (especially after the Covid-19 pandemic), and the UK has been described as ‘heading towards a burnout breakpoint’. But that doesn’t highlight just how serious the matter can be, with the WHO reporting 745,000 people dying in 2016 from cardiovascular diseases caused by working long hours.

It’s clear from statistics like this, that something needed to be done in the past decade, and quickly. While some companies refuse to embrace employee wellbeing through chief wellbeing officers, fast-forward to the present, and many employers have.

Some examples include Delta Air Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises, both of which have hired Chief health or medical officers in the past couple of years. While it isn’t strictly the same as a CWO, it encompasses employee wellbeing and health in general. 

It’s worth noting that the role of Chief Wellbeing Officer is still being defined, but as wellbeing in the workplace continues to evolve in society, it’s position within a team will become clearer to business leaders in 2022 and beyond.

As a matter of fact, wellbeing in the workplace has changed tenfold in the past couple of years, and doesn’t look to slow down any time soon. If businesses are to stay ahead of the curve and update with employee wellness trends, a Chief Wellbeing Officer is essential.


How to recruit a Chief Wellbeing Officer

Now that we understand how the role of Chief Wellbeing Officer has developed and how it can revolutionise wellbeing in the workplace, how exactly do you recruit for this role?

Many recruiters may shake their head in confusion when tasked with hiring a Chief Wellbeing Officer. After all, do you look for someone with a background in wellbeing? A mental health professional? Perhaps someone with experience in physical fitness.

These are all common questions, but what makes for a great Chief Wellbeing Officer doesn’t have to be guesswork. Truth be told, Chief Wellbeing Officers are generalists and specialists in equal measures. They understand wellbeing in the workplace and can support matters of mental health at work with qualities of a leader. 

When it comes to human behaviour and needs, they are experts and will assess company culture to ensure its moving in the right direction. Chief Wellbeing Officers know how to humanise a corporate environment and communicate the importance of wellbeing in the workplace to senior leaders - all with the goal of making staff feel increasingly valued. 

Finally, a Chief Wellbeing Officer knows what is required for a happier and healthier workforce, and if one thing is for sure, a more engaged team will render better results for businesses. 

Considerations to make before hiring a Chief Wellbeing Officer

We’ve now identified exactly what employers should look for in a Chief Wellbeing Officer, but there are more considerations to make before hiring a CWO. 

To begin with, businesses should assess why they may need a Chief Wellbeing Officer, as some challenges may be better suited for traditional HR professionals instead. Is it to discuss career growth, disciplinary actions and maintain employee records, or to nurture healthy relationships in the workplace and promote mental and physical health?

Below, we’ve listed eight questions. Consider whether each answer is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you find you’ve answered yes to more than four of the questions, it could be a good indication of the need for a Chief Wellbeing Officer. 

  • Our employees have reported symptoms of burnout, or I believe they are at risk of it.
  • Staff turnover continues to rise due to lacking employee benefits and wellbeing.
  • We operate wellbeing initiatives from time to time, but there isn’t a structure.
  • I can’t find the time to focus on employee wellbeing.
  • We have received requests for an improved employee wellbeing strategy.
  • I want to improve overall wellbeing in the workplace for my team.
  • Our business operates in a sector often considered highly stressful.
  • Previous staff wellbeing ideas just haven’t worked effectively.

You should now have a better idea of whether or not to invest in a Chief Wellbeing Officer. If you answered ‘yes’ to more than four of the questions, you could expect great results from hiring for this role.


The Benefits a Chief Wellbeing Officer has on employee wellbeing

Before you go about building an employee wellbeing strategy with a Chief Wellbeing Officer, are you aware of all the benefits it could bring to your company?

Improved productivity and performance in the workplace

Firstly, employee wellbeing works both ways. Not only can business leaders expect a robust employee wellbeing strategy that focuses on the mental and physical health of its team, it will see dramatic improvements in productivity and performance.

According to this 2019 research by Oxford University, happier employees are 13% more productive! With an entire workforce operating at these increased rates, it’s not hard to recognise the true power of hiring a Chief Wellbeing Officer to build an employee wellbeing strategy. 

Reduce staff turnover and other costs due to poor employee wellbeing

Staff turnover can trouble a business and hinder future growth. In addition to this, in 2019, accountsandlegal.co.uk reported that the average employee costs SMEs around £12,000 to replace. By those measures, it is clear that investing in a Chief Wellbeing Officer for a better employee wellbeing strategy; a much more cost-effective solution than simply replacing employees due to high turnover.

What’s more, presenteeism and absenteeism become increasingly common in unhappy teams. These, of course, have financial implications of their own, through needing temporary staff or missed deadlines through poor performance. 

Plan for a happier, healthier future

Having a Chief Wellbeing Officer makes it easier to plan for the future. Now that you can take care of high staff turnover rates with a hands-off approach, more can be done to establish how the business can grow and move forward.

On top of this, new found performance and productivity will ensure maximum output for the foreseeable future, as Chief Wellbeing Officers begin to build stronger relationships and happier people. 

Put an end a toxic organisational culture and environment

In addition to a happier, healthier future, business leaders can give a Chief Wellbeing Officer the duty of improving organisational culture. Culture and the environment we work in play a vital role in employee wellbeing. After all, if people are to work in harmony with one another for several hours a day, these factors need to be improved and refined over time. 

This is especially true for growing companies, who begin to find difficulty in focusing on employee wellbeing with an increasing workforce. 

Help management teams become better leader

Sometimes, senior members of management can lose the qualities that make great leaders. This comes as no surprise, because managing a business and other team members can be stressful. 

However, hiring a Chief Wellbeing Officer can help management become better leaders. This is because CWO’s have the opportunity to educate and lead by example. And if one thing is for certain, a great leader is one that actively learns from their mistakes and betters themselves for their team and business. 

Seeing how Chief Wellbeing Officers navigate relationships with team members, the way they conduct themselves and their approach to wellbeing matters, can give senior management the qualities to create happier, healthier teams themselves.

Understand the fundamentals of an employee wellbeing strategy

Finally, while a Chief Wellbeing Officer offers a hands-off approach to employee wellbeing, business leaders will still need to work closely with their CWO if they are to make an employee wellbeing strategy work. 

Business leaders can expect to learn the fundamentals of an employee wellbeing strategy, something that will dictate their decisions moving forward and give them a better understanding of what may and may not work. 

While it might not be the focus for business leaders, it is all qualities worth knowing and Chief Wellbeing Officers can become the mentor a CEO didn’t realise they needed.

The Chief Wellbeing Officer we like to call Heka

At Heka, we’re committed to employee wellbeing, it’s our mission to bring mental and physical health to companies far and wide. 

Truth be told, Heka isn’t strictly a Chief Wellbeing Officer, but she certainly recognises the wellbeing needs of employees for many different companies. With this information, she’s able to suggest 1000s of wellbeing experiences for both virtual and on-site.

Business leaders are turning to Heka to either support their Chief Wellbeing Officer or revolutionise the company’s employee wellbeing programme. Regardless, Heka is an affordable and accessible answer to wellbeing in the workplace and we continue to support more and more happier and healthier employees each day. 

Why not schedule a demo with one of our team members, and find out how Heka can help boost mental and physical health for your business?