How the rise of CWOs is reshaping corporate success


Jaco Oosthuizen | Managing Director | Yulife | mail me |

Ever since the pandemic, ‘organisational wellbeing’ has gone from a quirky idea that many thought was a bit of fluff, to a business imperative. Now more than ever, companies are seeing the value in having a coherent employee wellness strategy.

According to recent study conducted by Ipsos, more than 70% of employees are a lot more likely to stay at an organisation that tracks and measures employee wellbeing. This shows a strong link between employee wellbeing and job performance, engagement, and retention. Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 employers are very active in managing and preventing employee stress while 33% of employees feel like support is only there when they request it.

The growing link between employee wellbeing and business performance has spawned the creation of a new position in a company’s organisational structure, the Chief Wellbeing Officer (CWO).

Where does the CWO come from?

The CWO position backs up an organisation’s corporate value proposition to care for its people. We know that when people feel supported, l they feel like they belong and their employer cares about them as a person, productivity, and engagement increases.

People are more creative, willing to take risks, and have higher levels of psychological safety when they feel connected and engaged at work. According to the World Economic Forum, the role of a CWO first made its debut in the early 2010s, but during the pandemic, the role began to make its mark on the public consciousness.

Our mission to craft an insurance offering that helps employees and organisations live their best lives aligned closely with that of the responsibilities of a CWO.

Why CWO’s make companies better

It has become increasingly apparent that organisations that invest in their employee wellbeing do a much better job of retaining, attracting and motivating staff, which in turn leads to higher productivity.

For example, research we co-conducted with Forrester Consulting who found that companies who actively invested and supported wellbeing in the workplace (for example, having a CWO) have seen up to 23% reduction in absenteeism and 5% increase in productivity and better retention.

Our own research has shown that companies who focus on wellbeing not only perform better, but also see a return on investment of as much as 181% through reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Hiring a CWO allows businesses to take a more comprehensive approach to employee wellbeing by addressing financial, physical, mental, and emotional health and cultivates a workplace where employees don’t just survive but thrive.

In conclusion

Even if having a dedicated CWO does not fit an organisation’s current objective, companies should still encourage their leadership teams to integrate wellbeing into their business strategies and make it a priority to ensure productivity, engagement, lower resignation, and overall happiness of staff.

The rise of the CWO shows that, in some ways, the world is changing for the better. Gone are the days when being a high performer meant burning yourself out or sacrificing your wellbeing.

Having a CWO in the C-Suite is a positive step towards building workplaces that prioritise their most valuable asset – their people – while still pursuing profitability.



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