Leaders must loosen upper lips to promote health and wellbeing

Written by
Changeboard Team

18 Aug 2016

18 Aug 2016 • by Changeboard Team

UK business leaders still have a ‘stiff upper lip’ when it comes to discussing health and wellbeing in the workplace. 

According to BUPA UK, 68% of respondents in a recent survey felt executives created barriers to difficult conversations about wellbeing.  

Almost two-thirds (62%) of leaders felt they could not show their own ill health, with half believing it is impossible to lead effectively while appearing vulnerable.

Beate O’Neil, head of wellness consulting at Punter Southall Health & Protection said: “A major shift is needed to change the mind-set of executives in many UK companies if they want to tackle their wellness challenges. They must be able to discuss their own health issues and not see it as a sign of weakness.”

Research undertaken earlier this year by Punter Southall and REBA found that a third of companies have introduced a wellness strategy recently, and the implementation of a policy is high on the agenda of many other enterprises. 

O’Neal commented: “We advise any clients implementing wellness programmes that getting the support and on-going investment from leaders is absolutely critical – these leaders also need to demonstrate their commitment to any programme to ensure high employee participation levels.” 

By sticking their head in the sand, bosses could be negatively affecting their company’s productivity. Rather than effectively dealing with an employee’s wellbeing and instead adopting a policy of ‘presenteeism’, they could be leading a workforce of distracted and isolated staff. 

John Ritchie, CEO of Ellipse said: “The stiff upper lip culture leads to people struggling with work and life issues on their own. Worry is exhausting and hardly ever gets the job done or a personal issue resolved. Find a thinking partner, talk it over and propose action.”


John's 5 tips to consign the stiff upper lip workplace to history

  1. Give an explicit family leave allowance – once personal problems are in the open the employer can help
  2. Create a coaching culture – if you don’t want to help your colleague, you aren’t getting a management job
  3. Give everyone access to a virtual GP app at the highest quality you can afford
  4. Stuff happens – employees of all ages need disability insurance
  5. Adopt effective absence management software so you know where your people are and how they are

Read more

Wellbeing: What's it got to do with you?

Creating wellness at work