From Overwhelmed to Empowered: The Leader's Guide to Supporting Wellbeing at Work



Studies consistently reveal the profound impact work environments have on our mental health. As leaders, it's imperative to recognize our role in fostering a culture that prioritizes the wellbeing of team members. 

A recent study by The Workforce Institute, which surveyed 3,400 people across 10 countries, spotlights the critical impact of work on wellbeing. A staggering 60% of employees worldwide cite their job as the most significant factor impacting their mental health. Surprisingly, respondents indicated managers exert as much influence on their mental health as their spouses (both 69%) and even more than their doctor (51%) or therapist (41%). 

These statistics paint a clear picture - mental health cannot be ignored in the workplace.  It is not just a personal issue but a crucial aspect of organizational success. So, how can leaders address the mental health needs of their teams? Here are some key strategies: 

  • Normalize Mental Health Conversations: Integrate wellbeing discussions into one-on-one meetings to foster an environment where conversations about mental health are not just accepted but welcomed. Encourage team members to speak up when feeling overwhelmed.  
  • Lead With Empathy: Acknowledge the challenges your team faces and recognize when team members are struggling. Ask them if they’re okay, then listen with empathy and support them to get help.  
  • Empower Your Team: Make sure everyone knows about available mental health resources, like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that often go underutilized. Encourage utilization of these resources and empower individuals to prioritize their mental wellbeing. 
  • Respect Boundaries: Support a healthy work-life balance by respecting boundaries. Encourage team members to take breaks and truly disconnect during time off. Avoid silently rewarding "always-on" behavior that leads to burnout. Lead by example! 
  • Model Healthy Habits: How you manage stress and prioritize wellbeing sends a powerful message. Prioritize your own self-care and disconnect when necessary. Your actions speak louder than words, influencing the behavior of your team. 
  • Identify and Address Stressors: Is it workload, lack of communication, or uncertainty about change? Acknowledging and proactively addressing these challenges can significantly reduce stress and improve team wellbeing. 


Is all of this having you feel overwhelmed as a leader?  Rest assured, you don't need to be a therapist, and it is not your job to "fix" anyone. Your role is to provide a supportive environment and connect team members with available resources. Here are the simple steps to support your team:

  • Practice Active Listening: Show genuine concern and truly listen when someone opens up. 
  • Focus on Empathy, Not Fixing: Offer support without trying to solve their problems. 
  • Offer Helpful Resources: Direct them to EAPs or other mental health resources. 
  • Empower Them to Act: Encourage them to seek help and make positive changes.  



Leaders who prioritize empathy and create supportive environments can create a win-win for employee wellbeing and company success. Supporting the psychological wellbeing of their employees, leaders contribute to a more engaged, productive workforce and a healthier organizational culture. When they foster a culture of open communication and support, leaders empower their teams to thrive, both personally and professionally.