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Five Easy Leadership Practices that Support Employee Wellbeing

coaching, leadership development, developing emotional intelligence


Understanding business obligations while adopting leadership practices that support employee well-being is essential. Leading is complex however, it is vital leadership practices that support employee wellbeing are integrated into an organisation’s daily operating processes.

Managers must not only manage, but also lead, and there is a difference. Managing is process-driven and ensures that checks and balances sync. However, leading is bringing people on the journey by living and supporting the organisation’s vision. Considering the pandemic, leaders need to openly acknowledge the challenges that they and their team members are facing. It is not enough for leaders to merely discuss the concept of giving space. To acknowledge the continuing challenges, leaders must ensure that space is actually integrated into the workday for teams to share concerns and lean on each other for support. By adopting the following practices, leaders can support employee well-being, particularly as everyone navigates their way through the ongoing pandemic.


Visual Leadership

Visual leadership requires you to make yourself available to the team. Working virtually makes this more challenging, but there are ways that you as a leader can ensure your visibility in the virtual working world. Schedule weekly team meetings and organise regular check-in meetings with your direct reports. These short check-in meetings should emphasise the employee’s well-being and highlight support tools available for staff.  Replicate an open-door policy in the virtual world by allocating space in your calendar for team members to reserve time with you.

Ensure performance appraisal meetings are regular and they have a practical focus. Use an engaging approach that demonstrates your commitment to support and develop employees. Regular conversations provide an opportunity to identify and address problems before they escalate. Using this approach not only saves time and money but also demonstrates you, as a leader, are present and available to support employees. Equally, you should ask for support when required and regularly check in with your boss. In my work, I often see the squeeze that occurs in middle management. Being visual is an essential leadership practice that supports employee wellbeing. However, it is required across the business and at all levels in the organisation.

Compassion in the Workplace

We are all human, and we all experience suffering in different ways. Some individuals are more resilient than others, but regardless, we all have moments where the sky is darker, and the clouds are heavier. This is part of life, and as sure as there is night and day, the emotional landscape of people will veer from light to heavy. As a leader ensure that you clearly communicate this message to everyone, acknowledge the complexity of the human emotional experience, and treat all employees with compassion.

The science behind compassion demonstrates that it is a vital tool in supporting individual growth. Increasingly, the work of Dr. Kristen    a leading authority on the science of self-compassion, and others demonstrates the power of compassion. Showing compassion is not being soft. Instead, it allows you to build deep connections with your team members and to support them in a way that encourages inner confidence and personal growth.  Compassionate leadership is understanding the suffering of others and responding in a way to alleviate the situation for individuals who are stressed or who find the ongoing pandemic particularly challenging. Compassion requires leaders to be empathetic. Considering remote work and the increasing sense of isolation many people feel because of the extended pandemic, never before has there been such a need for leaders to step up and lead with compassion. This skill cannot be faked. It takes high emotional intelligence to understand and lead compassionately.

Creation of Space

Creating space for peer discussion during meetings is a powerful way to initiate discussion regarding the challenges people are facing. Include a wellbeing item on a team meeting agenda to provide an opportunity for staff to check in with each other and share challenges.  This creates connection, promotes collective support, and deepens trust within the team. An example of this is simply asking team members how they feel about continuing to work from home or equally the challenges around returning to the workplace?

However, this space must be an authentic space and not a quick roundtable discussion. It takes skill to create such a space and workplace mindfulness techniques are helpful in this regard. When a mindful space is created it fosters powerful deep connections among individuals.

As a leader, it is crucial that you have space for yourself. I consistently encourage leaders to use collaborative peer groups for both shared learning and support. Also, a short mindfulness practice during the workday is a powerful way to create headspace. It is essential leaders create space for both themselves and the team as we continue to manage the fallout from the ongoing pandemic.


Communication Strategy

I often witness excellent wellbeing plans fall apart because of a misguided or poor communication strategy. A communication strategy is essential, particularly when leading in times of crisis. Considering the ongoing pandemic and climate change as well as the partisan politics that have driven social tensions, leaders are currently functioning in a constant state of crisis management. A communication strategy ensures the right communication is delivered to the right audience at the right time. It also provides an opportunity for open, authentic dialogue. Furthermore, an effective communication strategy engages employees, acknowledges that leaders do not always have the answers, and enables employees to participate in the decision-making process. Without an effective communication strategy, vacuums are created where misinformation thrives. This type of environment creates uncertainty and unnecessary stress.


Emphasis on Core Values

Ensure your organisation’s core values provide the foundation for decision-making and employee engagement. The American Psychological Association Work and Well-Being Study of 2019 found that less than half of employees believed that their company culture supported their well-being. Leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring the organisation’s values are lived. Too often leaders just talk about their organisation’s values rather than exemplify them, and this type of lip service disengages and dilutes the company’s well-being efforts.  Organisational values are inextricably linked to the culture, and organisational success depends on the culture. Your culture represents the collective attitudes and behaviours of your employees, and it permeates every aspect of the company’s operations.

So often I witness organisations promote laudable values, but they make little effort to integrate the corporate values into the business’ daily operations. This disconnect between an organisation’s values and its culture causes tension. Aligning corporate values with daily activities provides an integrated approach to organisational wellbeing. A value-driven organisation fosters personal growth and utilises a collective approach to ensure the organisation’s goals align with its values. Values give meaning and purpose to the work being done, and during challenging times, it is essential to connect the intrinsic worth of employees’ efforts to the organisation’s values.


In outlining key leadership practices that support employee wellbeing,  it is acknowledged that as a leader, you do not have to have all the answers, but your presence and how you communicate, as well as the way you exemplify your organisation’s values, will determine your success in leading people during these uncertain times. In summary, as you step into 2022, bring a compassionate approach to leadership. Showing compassion toward your colleagues is essential, but equally important is practicing self-compassion.


Susan has over twenty-five years of experience advising corporates on sustainable wellbeing strategies and is an expert coach specialising in building emotional intelligence skills. Click Here to book a consult to explore Susan’s coaching for leaders services.




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