Leaders Need to Care about Well-being in the Workplace

by | Feb 3, 2023 | Hummingbird Blog

Last year, I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Ophelia M. Byers for an event with the PeopleForward Network, where we discussed well-being in the workplace. 

The discussion gave me a lot to think about regarding my journey of being a leader and fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes well-being.

Over the last few years, I’ve talked more openly about being a person with invisible disabilities and how being in recovery has changed how I live and lead. While it is a privilege to be the founder + CEO of Hummingbird Humanity, I also recognize that those titles don’t make me immune to experiences and situations that may reveal my imperfections. 

Our society is changing, and people are not allowing shame to keep them silent. But, of course, we can’t just expect people to show up fully at work and disclose things that make them feel vulnerable. Instead, we need to create a work environment that centers our employee’s humanity, cultivates trust, and creates psychological safety. 

Warning: Silence may be detrimental to your employee’s health. 

If your employees don’t have the support of an environment that values well-being, you will see an increase in burnout, quiet quitting, and disengagement. While it may seem like a bonus or luxury, investing in the well-being of your team has a direct correlation to engagement, productivity, innovation, creativity, and a greater sense of belonging. All things that positively impact the success of your organization.

Good for humanity. Good for business.

McKinsey & Company launched a wellness collection on their website to discuss the importance of workplace well-being. These articles highlight how a leader can help build a resilient team and prioritize well-being in the company. At Hummingbird Humanity, we recognize that we are humans first, employees second. We believe that creating a human centered workplace culture involves actively supporting the well-being of your people allowing them to bring their best selves to their work. 

We’re humans. Not robots. 

I have previously shared how the people who make up an organization aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. They are people who, over the last few years, have dealt with a global pandemic, a racial reckoning, and a potential recession on the horizon – not to mention the individual struggles that are part of each person’s everyday life. 

Many of us were taught – whether in our MBA program, from a former manager or leader, or in books we read – to disassociate from the humanity of the people we lead. That is an old paradigm that never really worked. Leadership today involves empathy, vulnerability, and compassion. It means being clear on expectations, expecting good performance, and balancing conversations with a lens of humanity. 

We were also taught to pay attention to the numbers. Here are some data points to reflect on:

  • A large-scale review of publicly available data sources published in Management Science found that U.S. companies with high workplace stressors may contribute to more than 120,000 deaths per year and approximately 5% to 8% of annual healthcare costs. Workplace-associated mortality exceeds the number of deaths from diabetes, Alzheimer’s or influenza. — stats from Gallup article

Human centered leadership is the new paradigm for workplaces of today. That includes fostering an environment of well-being and recognizing that the messages we send with this support provide an anchor for difficult moments, times of crisis, and navigating uncertainty. 

As I wrap up, I encourage you to consider – how are you supporting the well-being of the humans who make your organizations, your team, and your community thrive?

Brian McComak

Brian McComak

CEO / Founder

he / him / LGBTQ+

Brian McComak is a consultant, speaker, author, and facilitator with over 25 years of experience in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, HR, culture, change management, internal communications, and employee experience. He is an openly gay man and a person with a disability who shares his lived experiences in service of fostering workplaces where humans thrive.

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