The Importance of Full Leadership Buy-in of Workplace Wellness


What is leadership buy-in? It sounds a lot like business jargon. But let’s put the corporate buzzword aspect aside and talk about what it really means.

The figurative meaning of “buy-in” is to accept an idea. In a recent study, three out of five employees wanted employers to play an active role in improving the health of their employees. So, having leadership simply accept the idea of a workplace wellness program isn’t good enough.

There are multiple levels of leadership buy-in that ensure success:

Level 1: Initial Acceptance

Leadership should be educated about workplace wellness, then given time to consider the idea. While implementing a wellness program may be a no-brainer to some, others may underestimate its value and impact.

Level 2: Goal Creation

What will the wellness program accomplish? Leadership buy-in also requires leadership to agree to the program’s goals and measurements of success—and they will likely have differing opinions. CFOs tend to focus on ROI while HR executives tend to focus on the individual outcomes. Whatever the outcome, both teams need to show the program matters and creates impact.

Level 3: Approval

Accepting the idea of a wellness program and approving one are two different things. And approval isn’t just about signatures and financial backing—leadership needs to approve the program design and any components before implementation. The leadership team needs to first be on the same page around a clear wellness strategy over a multi-year timeframe.   

Level 4: Endorsement

Leadership buy-in doesn’t end once the program launches. Leadership should rally around the program, promote it, and engage in it. It’s awkward if a senior leader walks in a room and questions why everyone is taking a stretching break, only to learn it’s the last day of the program’s month-long stretching challenge. If employees sense leadership doesn’t take the program seriously, neither will they.

Leadership buy-in to workplace wellness is a trickle-down effect. It’s also an opportunity. Fewer than half of the study’s respondents reported their leaders were committed to workers’ health. Leadership buy-in is a crucial element to motivate and inspire employees along their health journey.

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