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Wisconsin's Perception of Their Managers Support

The survey results are in...

About the project:

This survey asked participants seven questions focused on their perception of their mid-level managers' and senior leaders' support of employee wellbeing at their organization. With a 25% response rate from WCWI members, we are excited to share the results capturing the perspectives of those who participated.

Committed and aligned leadership is the vital foundation in an organization's wellbeing strategy. 

Research suggests that a key influencer affecting employee wellbeing is mid-level management. Why is the mid-level manager so critical in supporting employee wellbeing?

  • Mid-level managers play a direct role in an employee's wellbeing by affecting engagement levels, acting as a gatekeeper, and being a role model.
  • Managers increase awareness of wellbeing initiatives, advocate for their employees and create accountability

Managers' role modeling of wellbeing can produce what is known as a Contagion Effect.

The Contagion Effect is the theory that emotion travels over social networks the same way viruses do. In a positive representation of this theory, Gallup research found that "direct reports of supervisors with high levels f wellbeing are 15% more likely to be thriving six months later."

Key Findings:

Healthcare Industry Perspective:

  • 57% of respondents from the Healthcare industry, disagreed that managers are role models for prioritizing health and work-life balance.
  • 57% of respondents from the Healthcare industry, agreed that managers publicly recognized employees' healthy actions and outcomes, which was a distint difference from the perspective shared by the overall survey respondents that represented a 59% disagreement with this statement. 

Manufacturing Industry Perspective:

  • 62% of respondents from the manufacturing industry, disagreed that managers are role models for prioritizing health and work-life balance. 

Education Industry Perspective: 

  • 85% of respondents from the education field, disagreed that their managers are role models for prioritizing health and work-life balance.

In comparison to the 2018 Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) national survey results, in which the same questions were asked to assess mid-level manager and senior leaders upport for wellbeing, 49% of WCWI respondents agree that their managers are role models for prioritizing health and work-life balance compared to the 23% of national respondents who agree to this in HERO's survey.

If this insight into WCWI members’ perspectives has you intrigued to learn more about how to develop and sustain committed and aligned leadership at your organizations, please check out the 2019 Learning Agenda. WCWI has a wide variety of learning opportunities and networking groups to support you!

Interpretation of results:

The perspectives of those who participated in this survey demonstrate the critical role that mid-level managers and senior leaders have in supporting employee wellbeing. The data collected aligns with what the research and best practice supports- that employees' perception of their manager's support of wellness needs to be visible and tangible for it to have true impact. When organizations work to transform from a programmatic-centered wellbeing strategy to a culturally-focused one, perception of manager support of employee wellbeing will also be enhanced. Employees will feel more recognized for their healthy actions and outcomes as managers are championing the organization's value of wellness through their actions, messaging, celebrations, and continual progress reporting to senior leaders is what may make a difference in employee perception. 

* The survey results are part of a UW Health & Wellness Management graduate program final capstone project.



Erin Wentworth
Member & Program Coordinator
Learn more about me.

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