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Senior executives cannot afford to ignore their own wellbeing

Jul 01 2012

I have been working with senior executives for years now, helping them to improve the wellbeing of their employees and helping them as individuals improve their own health and wellbeing. Many leaders do recognise the need to invest in the wellbeing of their workforce but all too often they ignore their own needs - this not only has a negative impact on their own health but also the health of their organisation. It’s true that senior executives are there to lead and need to hold everything together but this does not mean that they should ignore their own wellbeing needs. In fact, Ben Wilmott, Head of Public Policy, at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recently told the Financial Times that it is no longer good enough for senior executives to pass stress on. He said that by failing to deal with their stress this will in turn create a toxic culture and will undermine performance. I agree with Ben. We know that by improving employee wellbeing organisations can reap the benefits in terms of the increased productivity – individuals are more energised and motivated to achieve goals. It doesn’t matter whether you are just entering the workplace or whether you are at the very top, the fact of the matter is that someone with more energy and positivity is going to be much more beneficial for the organisation. It is this that has a positive impact on bottom line. The CIPD’s 2011 Employee Absence survey finds stress is now the top cause of long-term absence and senior executives are not immune to the impact of stress. In fact Michael Sinclair, City-based psychologist and author of Fear and Self Loathing in the City, raises real concerns about the pressure high-flying executives in the City face and the fact more CEOs are being signed off work. There is a real need to help those at the top as well as the average worker. Individuals, whether they are at the top or bottom of the food chain, can only take such pressure and ignore their own wellbeing for a short period of time before it starts to impact on those around them. We have all seen it in the press – senior executives burning out. Failing to address the health and wellbeing of those at the very top will have a detrimental affect on the business long-term. By giving those at the top the tools to improve their health and become more resilient they will be in a much stronger position to lead their organisation.