Employee wellbeing – where do line managers fit in?

Sep 04 2012

More and more organisations are taking action when it comes to improving employee health and wellbeing but in order to achieve real return on investment it is critical for line managers to play their part. In this blog I discuss the role of line managers in improving the health and wellbeing of employees - this first appeared on

We know from our experience of working with some of the UK’s top brands that by taking a proactive approach to the health and energy of employees, organisations can really improve wellbeing which in turn helps increase the company’s profits.

But to succeed, and achieve real return on investment, the culture of the organisation needs to be one that embraces wellbeing - this is where line managers come in. Managers can really help create the positive organisational culture that is required to really achieve a healthy, energised, high performing workforce.

Here are five things areas to consider when thinking about the role of line managers in employee wellbeing:

1) Direction, motivation and challenge

It is important for line managers to give clarity about the vision of the business and business objectives, and make sure employees understand how their individual objectives fit in. A little pressure can be a good thing. It is up to line managers to get the balance right, making sure staff feel stretched and are motivated by their objectives but not feeling overwhelmed and unable to handle the pressure.

2) Good communication

Research from Best Companies highlights the importance of good communication in achieving high levels of employee wellbeing and engagement. The most effective way to improve communication is through conversation and this is where line managers come in. It is important for team members to feel that they trust their line manager and can have an open and honest relationship. Managers who listen to and are open to receiving feedback and maintain an open channel of communication will naturally become aware of problems more quickly and this will enable them to fix them much sooner.

3) Spot the warning signs

Managers need to work closely with their team to ensure they are working to realistic deadlines and have a manageable workload. There will be times when individuals themselves are unable to spot early warning signs and this is where line managers come in. Are employees unable to cope with the pressure? Do they appear to lack energy? Is morale low? Are engagement levels changing? Is someone working too many hours? Managers need to be close enough to their team to spot potential problems. Only then will they be able to intervene and provide the support required.

4) Address the warning signs

Fail to address these warning signs and the business will suffer. Sometimes it will be as simple as a manager taking their team member to one side and discussing the issue and other times it maybe more complex. It is important to ensure line managers understand how to deal with problems when they spot them and what processes are in place to support their employees.

5) Employee recognition

It is important to give recognition to employees when they do a good job. By treating employees well and giving them recognition they are far more likely to be happy, motivated and engaged in their job and as a result pass on the positivity to customer, clients and colleagues thereby maintaining a positive corporate culture.