By Audrey McGibbon, Co-Author, GLWS

“Is wellbeing a fad?”

We were asked this question recently and our instinctive response was “We hope not!”. Not given how much positive change we have seen come about through the recent focus on wellbeing. But, thinking more about it, it’s a fair question. Wellbeing/wellness programs and initiatives have popped up like mushrooms all over workplaces – and in some quarters, this could feel a little like ‘jumping on the bandwagon’. But our true response is a firm no – that like many other ‘themes’ of recent times (diversity, psychological safety, even engagement), wellbeing is an essential ingredient in creating a workplace culture where people do their best work, are creative and innovative, collaborate effectively and perform sustainably at a high level to meet organisational objectives.

There probably are people within organisations addressing wellbeing as a fad, perhaps implementing a few ‘lunch ‘n’ learns’, supporting a ‘get fit’ campaign and encouraging healthy eating at work. Nothing wrong with any of that, but they are unlikely to achieve lasting change in behaviour. Or, for that matter, any of the desirable outcomes from seeing a real uplift in wellbeing – such as reduced absenteeism, increased engagement, innovation and retention, and sustainable high productivity and performance. (If you are yet to be convinced that these are the outcomes that investment in wellbeing can bring, then please ask and we can guide you to the evidence). That’s because these programs, by and large, are not very ‘sticky’ – and, without fundamental shifts in how the leadership of the organisation engages with wellbeing, are doomed to under-achieve, if not fail.

For wellbeing to stick, and for organisations to see the benefits, it needs to be embedded in the expectations and behaviour of all leaders.

Wellbeing as a core leadership capability

We all know that initiatives in organisations have to be supported from the top to stand a chance of getting off the ground, surviving and achieving their objectives. With wellbeing, we would like to see this go one stage further – indeed, we believe this is fundamental to realising the cultural shifts required to truly embed wellbeing.

It’s time to view wellbeing as an essential leadership capability.

Organisations expect leaders to have well-developed skills in people leadership, emotional intelligence, stakeholder relationships, strategic thinking, problem-solving and so on. In this day and age, shouldn’t we also expect leaders to be capable of developing wellbeing?

And by developing wellbeing, we mean:

  1. Attending to their own self-care,
  2. Attending and promoting ‘other-care’ for the people they lead,
  3. And being champions of wellbeing across their organisations.

Here is our attempt at a fuller definition of ‘enabling wellbeing’, and we offer this up as a gift to stimulate your minds on what might work in your own organisation: “Making purposeful and well-informed choices to optimise wellbeing for self and others, role-modelling wellbeing as a priority, embedding reliable disciplines and influencing positive change in the system for others.”

How your organisation can enable Wellbeing

To make wellbeing an essential skill, it needs to be documented within your organisation’s frameworks and integrated into performance reviews.

We propose you:

  1. Update your organisation’s leadership capability framework to include wellbeing as a
    clear and explicit expectation.
  2. Redesign or augment your leadership development initiatives to include leaders’ development of this capability as a core component of every leadership development program, at all levels of leadership.
  3. Build engagement in your wellbeing strategy to a point where you can set wellbeing KPIs as part of every leader’s performance targets.
  4. And finally, evaluate performance and reward leaders for their success in enabling wellbeing. After all, what gets measured, gets done. The world is changing. Leaders are under more pressure to perform and respond to rapid organisational, social and technological change than ever before. The best of the best will understand, model and uphold positive wellbeing practices in the workplace.

Leaders who role-model and prioritise the wellbeing skills and behaviours taught to them will become an organisation’s most powerful enablers of improved employee wellbeing and all the possible benefits that come with it. But it’s only strong leadership, behavioural and cultural change driven by wellbeing data that will deliver.

Speak to a PeopleScape consultant about your Wellbeing strategy today 

If you want to create a culture that is thriving and flourishing, you need to work on both Leadership AND Wellbeing together.

Since the Global Financial Crisis, there has been a steady increase in stress, bullying and harassment claims in Australia and New Zealand.

Leaders and Managers have been tasked with driving productivity and performance which is only possible if employees are held accountable. Future leaders need to be highly agile and able to deal with the highly volatile and uncertain world that is rapidly changing. This requires an ability to drive performance and also a thriving culture over the long-term. However, if managers are not properly trained, this process can leave employees feeling increasingly stressed and sometimes bullied or harassed.

Many organisations have responded by establishing Wellbeing programs that include gym memberships, fruit bowls, massages and the more sophisticated programs including psychological resilience and mindfulness training. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t deal with the true cause of the problem.

Leaders and Managers play a crucial role in creating the right environment for their people to flourish. If their approach is too heavy-handed they get compliance rather than commitment; too soft and they find it difficult to drive productivity. Leaders need to learn how to simultaneously drive better business performance through creating a culture of wellbeing.


The PeopleScape Approach

At PeopleScape we have built a program of activities designed around a 360-degree assessment tool called the PeopleScape Leading for Performance and Wellbeing Survey. This development program is designed to analyse and increase seven key characteristics that have been proven to produce sustainable performance by increasing trust and wellbeing.



  1. Build Capability & Accountability—encouraging and empowering the individual and team capability through delegation and coaching
  2. Have Purpose & Direction—helping team members understand the purpose of what they do and where they are going
  3. Are Emotionally Adaptive—showing resilience, optimism, emotional awareness and emotional flexibility
  4. Are Consistent—ensuring messages are consistent and match the leader’s behaviour so they can lead by example,  to motivate and engage their team
  5. Are Supportive—attending to the individual needs of all team members, including emotionally
  6. Are Authentic & Genuine—being transparent, honest and ‘walking the talk’
  7. Engender Trust—all of the above characteristics are dependent on the ability of leaders to demonstrate and engender trust with team members. Trust is built through a leader’s demonstration of three factors— credibility, reliability and intimacy—and is moderated by self-orientation
Contact PeopleScape today to discuss a Leading for Performance and Wellbeing program today.


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