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Paul Carter


HR Writer

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How managers influence employee wellbeing

Managers can have a big impact on employee wellbeing.

You are employed by an organisation, but you work for your manager. A relationship that can have a positive or negative effect on your wellbeing.

Be self-aware and approachable so other people can return the favour.

Modern managers understand the importance of employee wellbeing in achieving business goals and retaining talent. No matter how high you get, you have to answer to someone. And the higher you get, the more people you are responsible for.

There is more to employee wellbeing than flexible working and exchanging pleasantries. It all starts with how you are managed. A good manager has to manage upwards, sideways and downwards to create a positive working environment. Here are my tips on how to do that.

Tackle the Teflon

Whether you’re feeling the heat after your boss’s latest mistake or tackling a colleague who is an expert at avoiding work, you have to use your management skills to ensure people are held accountable for underperformance.

This is not about office politics, it’s about having evidence-based conversations to protect your team’s reputation.

There may be resistance at first, but if you behave professionally a good manager and colleague will meet you halfway so you can move forward together. Just be self-aware and approachable so other people can return the favour.

Communication skills

Managers have to push boundaries to evolve the team’s capabilities to meet performance targets.

To get everybody onboard, explain the purpose and benefits of the changes and how you will work together to deliver them, making the link to their professional development. Work should be a mutually beneficial experience, with good work resulting in reward, recognition and career progression.

United management team

Directors often integrate cherry-picked managers with existing managers who seem unsure of their place in the pecking order.

The differing management styles, frustrations and splintered alliances are often witnessed by team members, making it hard for them to believe in the management vision of respect, values and equality. Thankfully this is not an insurmountable barrier, and watching the team unite can instil faith in the leadership.

If you are in charge you have to manage the managers

The fear of prejudicing potential disciplinary action can lead to senior managers adopting a see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing approach in case they have to make an important decision further down the line.

While following the guidance for informal and formal management action is important, senior managers should always know what is happening in their teams to address unfair treatment or bad decisions before the appeal stage.

Support your managers but make sure they are behaving fairly and professionally.

If you have to take formal action, listen to HR

HR helps managers weave together the narrative, facts and mitigation of a case to produce a patchwork of best practice in employee relations. It may seem overly bureaucratic at the time, but you have to prove you made a fair and reasonable decision and that means hard work.

Not listening to HR may result in your decision being unpicked by an appeal manager, trade union or employment tribunal. Just don’t ask HR to make decisions as that is down to managers.

Understanding the cause and effects of employee wellbeing

Organisations should use their data analysis capabilities to track the impact that organisational changes, work pressures, management practices and employee policies have on attendance, engagement and health and wellbeing.

Having that information will enable managers to make informed decisions on how they can resolve these stressors. However, to make real progress you have to understand the stories behind the statistics. 

Interested in this topic? Read The line manager's role in supporting workplace wellbeing.

Author Profile Picture
Paul Carter

HR Writer

Read more from Paul Carter

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