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Well-Being Programs on the Rise

There are more and more programs on well-being. What strikes me is that they always start from a good intention but often do not have the desired effect.

The underlying reasons to launch these programs are often higher employee turnover, increased absenteeism, the need to develop employees, the implementation of sustainable (Human Resources) strategies, compliance. Sometimes the request of the employees is at the origin.

Program themes go from sleep hygiene, healthy diet, exercising to mental well-being. Very often, a cognitive and conceptual approach is used. In other words, the cognitive and mental use of the welfare aspect.

Going Further

I see possibilities to go further. I see three levers.

  1. First of all, it is important that the program is a part of a policy that is in line with the organisation’s strategy. All too often I see programs that are well worked out and well substantiated but that are not in line with the organization’s strategy. For example, organizations invest in good programs but workload remains high as fewer people need to do the work. That’s carrying water to the ocean. The programs are not in line with the organizational context.
  2. Next, the role of the manager is paramount. They play a crucial role in supporting the employee. Can they talk openly about subjects as stress, fear, courage, doubt and positive energy? Do they show a supportive and open attitude? Can they postpone their advice and adopt an open listening attitude? Are they able to listen beyond the personal eg?.

A servant leader does not start with the answer the program, the product, the procedure, they begin with the question that will help identify the needs of others.
Robert K. Greenleaf

  1. Finally, programs are very often dealt with very mentally. Personally, I am in favour of entering more body-oriented work in organizations. Focussing on both mind and body can create real relaxation. Programs like heart coherence, holistic pulsing and mindfulness have an impact on the limbic system. This way employees really feel better and they are going to be more in their strength.

Wilhelm Reich, Jan Bommerez, the heartmath institute and many others have numerous publications around this topic.

Questions to Ask.

I am absolutely in favor of wellbeing programs in organizations. But before copying or rolling out blindly, it is important that the management team takes ownership and raises the following questions:

  • Are we willing to adapt our strategy and policies in line with the programs?
  • Am I prepared as a leader to adjust my personal behavior in line with what is needed for my organization?
  • Do I keep the leaders in my organization accountable to encourage employees to make full use of their wellbeing?
  • How do I make sure that the programs are diverse, in other words that they are designed for both sporting and less sporty people, for stress-sensitive and less stress-prone people, …?
  • Finally, I am willing to focus on both body and mind. Because in the end the body never lies.

You could say that many drops on a fertile soil and sufficient heat will create the ideal climate for further growth of both the people and the organization.

A people-first culture positively affects profit, revenue and employee morale.


As a Seasoned Human Resources and Change Leader for over 20 years, Philippe has extensive experience of working in organizations in a local and international context. He worked for an IT startup company & JNJ and has built a track record as HR leader. Amongst other topics he has worked on: - the challenge of reconciling high performance and well-being - change in organisations - strategy - team coaching - individual coaching - well-being.

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