Every year, more and more companies are investing in wellness programs and dedicating dollars to incentive programs to drive engagement. While it’s great that senior managers are investing dollars in the health and wellness of their employees, a new survey shows that without also investing leadership, many organizations aren’t getting the return on investment they could be getting. The survey points to low overall engagement: only one-third of those surveyed say they regularly participate in health promotion programs.

The survey was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association in March of this year, the sixth year the study has been conducted. One of the principal findings was a substantial variance in outcomes based on the level of senior engagement:

Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of employees with senior managers who show support through involvement and commitment to well-being initiatives said their organization helps employees develop a healthy lifestyle, compared with just 11 percent who work in an organization without that leadership support,

The survey found widespread links between support from senior leaders and a variety of employee and organizational outcomes, with more than 9 in 10 workers saying they feel motivated to do their best (91 percent vs. 38 percent of those without leadership support), are satisfied with their job (91 percent vs. 30 percent) and have a positive relationship with supervisors (91 percent vs. 54 percent) and coworkers (93 percent vs. 72 percent). These employees are also more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work (89 percent vs. 17 percent) and fewer said they intend to leave their job in the next year (25 percent vs. 51 percent).

This matches what we see in our TotalCare Wellness Program, and it shouldn’t be too surprising. Organizational priorities are only as strong as the support they get from the corner office. Management teams that exhibit a deep commitment to the health and well-being of employees yield higher engagement than those who just add a wellness as another “nice to have” benefit.

“Promoting employee well-being isn’t a singular activity, but is instead set up in a climate that is cultivated, embraced and supported by high-level leaders and managers,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “When supervisors’ actions match their words, employees notice.”

See the full survey here: 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey

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