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That middle management level – the team leaders and supervisors – they can make or break your workplace wellness efforts, can’t they?

If they don’t believe in the benefits of workplace health, they’ll soon snuff out the flickers of flames in their employees. But if they’re all for it, if they walk (or run) the talk, and encourage their team to get on board, then that team can soar.

How do you inspire them? The ones who aren’t already supporters? How do you show them, make them really see, feel and taste the benefits, beyond yet another Powerpoint presentation?

Here are some ideas:

1. Show them

Let your team leaders and supervisors experience the benefits themselves.

If you’re introducing a new activity, perhaps an activity tracker or wearable device challenge, then pilot it with your team leaders first. Let them experience the motivational and practical benefits of the activity. So often you need to do a program to really appreciate its benefits.

You’ll find they end up talking about what they’re doing with their teams casually and naturally. This piques the interest of team members (we always want what we can’t have yet!), and has much more impact than a formal announcement. Encourage them to suggest small improvements to the pilot program, so they feel more ownership of the final program that’s rolled out to employees.

2. Get them offline or offsite for a wellness half-day

This takes a real commitment, but can have great results.

Get your team leaders together for a wellness day or fitness fest – whatever you want to call it. You could do it like a Health Expo with various stalls (such as checks, massage, consults), but just for team leaders.

Alternatively, you could incorporate a strong wellness factor into your next offsite strategy session: include a morning bootcamp session, or have a proper exercise break in the middle of your meeting.

Serve healthy food, and offer massages like a roaming massage during the meeting.

3. Workshop it – explain the why

So often for Wellness Managers, the emphasis is on convincing Senior Executives to sign off and give you a decent budget, and then we skip straight to persuading employees to join in. We forget about that vital gateway, the team leader or supervisor.

Run a workshop for team leaders, explaining the business case and benefits as it impact on them. Show how wellness can help them with their people problems, with absenteeism, presenteeism and productivity.

Explain the concept of presenteesim – they’ll get it, trust me.

They’re less likely to be persuaded by high level macro figures – the ones which show the impact on the Australian economy for example. They need to know how wellness will help them succeed. Show them the health stats of your workforce, and what will happen if you do nothing. For example, if you have an ageing workforce, explain the impact of chronic disease on absenteeism; or if you have a lot of stress claims, talk about it openly.

If you’ve done a company-wide Health Risk Appraisal or a comprehensive check such as a Heart Check that gives you a corporate report, draw on that to explain the need for change. Resist the urge to drown them in Powerpoint – you’ll lose interest. Keep it energetic, positive and sharp. Aim for a lot of audience participation.

4. Talk about it like you mean it

If you want your team leaders to make time for wellness with their teams, you need to make time to talk about it in your management meetings. Yes, I know your meetings run too long anyway and you’ve already got too many business critical issues to get through, but if you can’t make time to talk about wellness, what does that say?

Make sure you include it, and explain why you’re including it. Keep it positive and energetic: praise a team leader who’s doing it well; talk about the upcoming activity, or quickly summarise the results of the last one.

5. Reward it

Highlight team leaders who are doing it well, either personally or with their teams. Show that efforts towards wellness are recognised and appreciated.

Consider having a Wellness Warrior of the month, or better still, identify a team that’s embracing wellness, and praise the whole team.

6. Help them out

Team leaders aren’t personal trainers, they don’t naturally know how to do this stuff.

Arm them with a toolkit to help them communicate and inspire.

At a minimum give them a suggestion sheet including:

  • Suggested ways to thread wellness throughout the day, such as walking meetings, or pre-work workouts you can do in work clothes.
  • Suggested key messages for team members who resist.


If you’d like help with any of these ideas, talk to us! We’ve been motivating employees and management around health and wellness for more than 30 years. Call us on 1300 90 10 90 or email


Author Healthworks

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