Editor’s Note: Grace Ueng is the founder of Savvy Growth, a noted leadership coaching and management consulting firm, and an expert on wellbeing and performance science. Grace writes a regular column on happiness & leadership for WRAL TechWire.

In recent years, workplace wellbeing has made it into the agenda of the C-suite.

Recent research from Workplace Intelligence in partnership with Deloitte’s Global Human Capital reveals that more than 8 out of 10 executives believe their people are thriving in all aspects of their wellbeing. In reality, employees report being exhausted (43%), stressed (42%), overwhelmed (35%), lonely (24%) and depressed (23%).

While executives underestimate how much their people are struggling, they are faring a bit better, but are still not immune.  70% of the C-suite and 57% of employees are seriously considering switching to a job that is better at supporting their wellbeing.

Given that leaders do not realize the extent to which their people are struggling, it is not surprising that only 56% of employees think their leadership care about their wellbeing. However, 91% of the C-suite believe that their employees feel that they care about them.  This is a concerning gap and blind spot.

Wellness is top priority, more than career progress

68% of employees and 81% of the C-suite report that improving their wellbeing is more important than their career advancement.  Yet, in the face of today’s heavy workloads, there are seemingly not enough hours in the day to get the work done and also have the needed time to disconnect.

While only 1 out of 3 employees say their job has a positive impact on their physical, mental, and social well-being, over 3 out of 4 of the C-suite reports their job has a positive impact.

95% of the C-suite agree that executives should be responsible for the wellbeing of their employees.  68% admit that they aren’t taking enough action to safeguard employee health and only 31% of employees believe their leadership is taking responsibility.

More than a wellness stipend

Employees want more than a wellness stipend for a gym membership or a nap room.  They want an environment where there is transparency and they feel safe in discussing if they are struggling with wellness issues. This is rare. 22% of employees report that their leaders share information about their wellbeing with them, while 73% of the C-suite say they do share with them!  Either they are not hearing or seeing these efforts, or somehow the information is being lost in information overload.

Real change needs to be owned by the CEO, the rest of the C-suite, and the board. Their decisions need to be governed by metrics that matter.

Social determinants of health

The World Health Organization has named work to be a “social determinant of health”, something so important that it shapes wellbeing at a deep level. A “good job” is defined by the CDC as one that is safe and healthy; has sufficient income and benefits; allows for work-life balance; provides employment security; considers employees’ voices in decision-making; offers opportunities to gain skills; and has positive employment-related relationships.

Legacy thinking versus forward thinking

The companies that come to me with interest in our HappinessWorks™ programming are forward thinking.  They desire positive transformation for their people. Deloitte explains in The workforce well-being imperative the importance for shifting from a legacy to a forward thinking mindset to build accountability for change, and the CEO needs to be leading the charge.

Mindset shifts can help organizations improve workforce well-being.

How leaders behave, how you design work, and how you get work done are important work determinants affecting worker wellbeing:

Leadership, designs of work, ways of working affect worker well-being.

Measuring metrics that matter

If team wellbeing is included in leaders’ performance reviews, this could go a long way in changing the gap between the C-suite and employees by measuring what really matters.

These are a dozen sample metrics from Savvy’s Wellness@Work barometer that we measure so that leaders can track the wellbeing of their people:

  • Amount of overtime, email correspondence on weekends/evenings
  • % PTO taken
  • Level of psychological safety
  • Leaders lead by example on wellness
  • Level of micromanaging
  • Level of developmental feedback
  • Emotional intelligence and empathy of boss and colleagues
  • My work has meaning
  • I have opportunities to grow and learn new things and skills
  • I am able to leverage my strengths
  • I have space to be innovative and creative
  • I have a mentor at work

If you’re interested in measuring the overall happiness of your team, reach out to learn about Savvy’s new barometer tool that you can put to work at your company.

Next up:

Does it make financial sense to spend time and resources on propping up happiness at work? What quantitative evidence exists that investing in employee wellbeing and happiness will have ROI on a corporate level?

About Grace Ueng

A management consultant, leadership coach and human performance expert with Savvy Growth, Grace has been covered in The Wall Street Journal, Inc., and MIT Technology Review.  Leaders call her when seeking a strategic review of their business, when going through a pivot point, or when they’d like to have a thinking partner to hold them accountable to stretch goals.

Her company offers workshops to improve team effectiveness: Savvy’s Seven: What You Will Learn.

Join her Happiness & Leadership community to be more productive leader: click here