Role of Leaders in Shaping Wellness Culture


Whether you are a hospital, healthcare organisation, business organisation, government agency or family business there is one responsibility you have in common. Shaping corporate wellness culture.

Research shows there are good cultures and toxic cultures. CEO leaders and their executive teams influence and underpin work place culture.

Organisational culture in the health sector is changing, especially feeling the burden of the changing makeup of medical education and workplace practices.  Increased bureaucracy, rules and regulations, billing coding requirements, KPI (key performance indicators),  and increased use of EMR (electronic medical records).

Treadmill of Unchanged Culture

Success of an organization typically falls on CEO leaders and health executives. This will be experienced differently depending on leadership style and industry.  Leaders hold the keys to approval of projects,  allocation of resources of money, time and people for organisations to function.  Resources are not all allocated equally.

It is with the best of intentions leaders drive change. But research shows little attention is paid on the effects these changes have on people directly and their passion for example, in medicine.   Many people already show deficits in their wellness accounts, precariously close to empty from the fast pace of change. Frequently  there is little or no training provided how to deal with emotions, time management or self-care in times of change.

In the face of endless utilitarian measurements and documentation for regulatory purposes and efficiency progress reports. Staff are consumed in filling in box-checking and metrics.  Often struggling even to make eye contact with patients in order to stay on schedule and get their electronic charts completed on time.

Culture Patterns Emerging

Younger generation of medically trained students are opting out of the medical system  Many are getting MBAs moving to the corporate world. Countless others finish their training but never enter a traditional medical practice. Others struggle with overwhelming workloads and burn out.   Much the same is happening in other sectors, corporate organisations, often leaving it all behind for a career change.

Despite the utilitarian approach to quality measurement, technology is here to stay.  How will this impact the workforce?  There has to be a better balance between the system, workforce management and customers.  It will require us to revisit the organisational culture needs of modern organisations.


Time to focus on shaping Culture of Wellness 

Moving towards a culture of wellness in the workplace starts at the top long before we enter the workforce. While many organisations are rolling out wellness programs, they are often under old organisational culture practices. Consequently, these programs are usually no longer fit for today’s purposes.  We have to consider not only the well-being of employees in the workforce but recruitment practices used to hire, manage and develop employees if we want to create an efficient system.

  •  You drown not by falling into the river but by staying submerged in it

Ironically under the guise of burnout prevention training programs and wellness courses to learn how to unwind and manage stress, many fail to provide the answers.  While they are learning about burnout and keeping fit, added stress from  attending more prevention programs impacts their well being because when they get back to their desk there will be twice the workload waiting.

Redefine Culture of Wellness 

The high costs of wellness and healthcare in the workplace is increasing. For this reason it is time to redefine a new corporate wellness culture better suited to these changing times to balance introduction of digitisation.  These new practices need to be inclusive of recruitment and management practices as well as healthcare of their workforce.  This starts with the role leaders play at the top organisations.

Principles of Wellness Culture Philosophy

Wellness Culture Philosophy is based on choice. Inner wellness, outer action, a dynamic intersection  between choice, a combination of one’s life, work and social environment. While there is no one definition of corporate wellness, an important aspect is to increase state of awareness and enhance mind-body connection.  Also, other important factors are wellness lifestyle, adapting to new experiences and becoming more flexible in times of change.

To make a difference in an organisation, the wellness culture requires redefining, while understanding effective strategies.

Leaders Need to Adapt

It’s time for workplaces to engage and embrace change of outdated organisational workplace practices culture. By doing so will benefit from an improved Corporate Culture of Wellness. We live in highly complex times of disruption.   If leaders do not adapt they will lag behind.  Not only are we adapting to changing technologies but companies have to prepare their people to adapt to changing forces.

Promotion of operational health and wellness programs in organisations is not enough.  Not adapting and changing to a corporate wellness culture comes at a high cost to organisations and employees.  Until corporate wellness culture includes not only wellness programs at both the strategic and operational level, but a focus on  recruitment practices,  leaders will struggle to engage their workforce totally.   Costs will continue to increase, burnout and stress will continue to spiral out of control.

Old Thinking to New Thinking in Corporate Wellness Culture

Creating a Culture of Wellness whether in the workplace, corporate environment, hospitals medical practices, schools etc requires new thinking paradigm.  There is change fatigue among employees yet another change program coming up in the organisation.  The focus has to shift from short term fixes driven by the bottom line, to inclusive well-being practices of its workforce.  Creating a whole of organisation culture of wellness.  This means  how we treat our people is just as important and how we drive the bottom line for the success of the organisation..

Culture of Wellness Philosophy

Wellness is a choice.  Shaping corporate wellness culture in an organisation starts at the top. CEO leaders and their executive teams must embrace this role to enact change in their organisation. Disconnect in an organisation often results in high levels of poor engagement, driven by a single focus on the bottom line.

While financial success is essential, well-being and consistent high levels of performance by employees can only attained if we understand both the whole person, and what makes an organisational culture tick. Allowing change to corporate wellness for  workforce success.


Contributed by Suzanne Derock, UBIS Health

For more information contact us   [email protected] 
UBIS Exclusive Health Jobs Employment site for Australia, Executive Consulting & WellDesk.   
PhD research investigating CEO influence, organisational culture and corporate wellness.


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