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Developing healthy workplaces has been a concern for many business leaders and HR managers for the past few years. With the major shift to remote and flexible work, as well as increased concerns about mental health and stress, the emphasis on a healthy workplace has never been greater.

How do you create a healthy workplace environment? Like everything else, it has to start with the top.

Lead by Example

Top-down company culture usually gets a bad rap. Many see it as out-of-touch executives dictating what those lower on the ladder should do, while they themselves act in a different way.

This isn’t how top-down culture should work. When done right, top-down culture is an exercise in leadership by example.

That means the leadership of the company acts in the same way they want their other team members to act. If you want everyone to be safe in the workplace by washing their hands and wearing masks, then you should model this behaviour.

Leading by example demonstrates proper behaviour and motivates employees to behave the same way, especially if they view you as a good leader. They’ll want to emulate your behaviour.

Leadership’s Values Reflected in Initiatives

The other reason a healthy workplace starts at the top is because the initiatives needed to support a healthy workplace culture have to be in line with leadership’s values.

If you want to offer a mental health support program as part of your benefits, you’ll need the budget to set it up and implement it. If leadership doesn’t consider mental health support important, they may not approve the budget. They might not sign off on necessary approvals, or they may refuse to allow for communication about the new initiative.

By contrast, if leadership believes mental health is important and wants to support team members, they’ll be more likely to give approvals and ensure the initiative has the budget.

What If There’s No Support at the Top?

This is one of the more frustrating situations to be in. You may believe it’s important to provide a mental health support app or a financial literacy program. If other leaders in your business don’t, you could have a hard time giving employees the support they need and creating a company culture that makes people want to stick with you.

Often, the key is to find where you align with leaders on other points. Do they believe in productivity and want to give employees the tools to maximize efficiency? Are they looking for creative thinkers? Or do they want to lower employee turnover?

Any of these values can be supported by better employee benefits. Once you’ve found common ground, you can begin educating and persuading the other leadership members about the importance of these initiatives.

Of course, it’s much easier if everyone believes in the value of the benefit from the start.

Creating a Culture That Values Team Members’ Input

Some people believe that company culture should be bottom-up. It’s important to listen to the team members on the ground, especially when it comes to implementing new programs, tools, or benefits.

For example, listen to your team members to create a benefits plan they actually want to use. If you don’t listen to them, you run the risk of adding benefits no one needs.

Yet this is also top-down culture in some ways, because leadership has to believe in the value of team members’ thoughts. Otherwise, you’re probably running employee surveys for the sake of appearances. The results will be ignored at the top, and nothing will change.

When leadership understands and values input from other team members, it’s more likely they’ll support other initiatives. They’ll be more willing to look into recommended solutions and to implement new programs.

In other words, a healthy workplace has to start at the top, because leadership has the means to implement it effectively. When your business leadership team believes in what they’re doing, they’ll not only support initiatives and listen to other team members, they’ll lead by example too.


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