The CEO’s Influence on Employee Well-Being

In recent years, employee well-being has evolved from a buzzword to a central principle for creating a resilient, agile, and engaged workforce. With current trends showing that employees want and expect their employer to prioritize their well-being, the question becomes: where does the CEO fit in the wellness program? Explore the latest research on the impact CEOs can have on employee engagement and discover cost-effective strategies to create a culture of health. 

Workplace Well-being: A Strategic Priority  

Focusing on employee well-being has become a critical business priority. Studies show that a higher level of well-being among employees translates into improved productivity, reduced turnover, and reduced absenteeism and presenteeism. Additionally, research shows that companies that build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their employees have a competitive advantage, generating greater value for their investors.

A Talent Magnet

In today’s competitive talent market, demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being is an essential strategy for attracting and retaining top talent. A recent Gallup study reveals that well-being is the ultimate goal for employees across generations – especially millennials and Gen Z, who consider it their No. 1 workplace wish. And when employees feel their employers care about their health, they’re more likely to trust their company and feel proud to work there, which directly supports higher retention rates.  

Partnering with wellness providers to offer mental health resources, financial wellness tools, and personalized fitness coaching can be a powerful selling point for prospective and current employees. 

CEOs Step Up

No longer just the responsibility of the HR department, research shows that CEOs play a critical role in employee well-being in today’s workplace. Studies show a strong correlation between CEO commitment to well-being and improved employee morale, engagement, and productivity.

Furthermore, employees pay attention to the CEO’s involvement in wellness, affecting their perception of the company’s commitment to well-being. A study by the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable found that workplaces where the CEO participates in wellness initiatives report better productivity, improved work quality, and higher job satisfaction. 

When leadership actively participates and advocates for wellness, employees are more likely to follow suit. For example, seeing the CEO take a fitness break can inspire and encourage employees to do the same.   

Advice from a CEO: Shifting to a Culture of Wellness

 “Leadership sets the tone for workplace culture and establishes norms of behavior,” says Bob Alison, co-founder and CEO of PEAR Health Labs. He adds, “One of the most important things a CEO can do is to actively participate in wellness programs. When employees see leadership prioritizing well-being, it sets a powerful precedent.”

 “At PEAR Health Labs, we embrace the ‘movement is medicine’ mantra and focus on inspiring, motivating, and supporting our employees to work and be well through physical activity,” explains Bob. “For example, in addition to supplying standing desks, we encourage taking breaks during the workday to exercise or take a fitness class. We have a weekly Run Club and opportunities to join fun fitness challenges, such as 5k walks and runs. The key is to infuse opportunities for wellness into the day-to-day culture and operations of the business.”

A Menu of Cost-Effective CEO Strategies   

Creating a more physically active work culture is a key wellness initiative that can have both a short and long-term impact without requiring much money. Below are some budget-friendly strategies for CEOs to consider to enhance wellness and create a healthier, more active work culture. 


  • Provide “active office” furniture such as stand-up or treadmill desks.
  • Offer secure bike racks and lockers to hold workout gear.
  • Sponsor employee teams in organized fun runs or walks
  • Offer onsite or virtual fitness classes.

Staff Policy 

  • Promote healthy meetings that include standing, stretching, or brief movement breaks as part of the agenda.
  • Allow employees to wear casual, workout-friendly clothes to the office for spontaneous walking meetings.
  • Reimburse employees for fitness equipment.
  • Provide fitness and wellness apps.
  • Integrate 15-minute activity breaks into the workday.


  • Educate employees about the benefits of reducing sedentary behavior.
  • Provide a map of indoor/outdoor walking paths near the workplace.
  • Create an office-wide “nudge” (e.g., email, text, music) prompting employees to get up and move.

To go a step further, CEOs or other executive leaders may be interested in signing the CEO Pledge, a social movement to make physical activity and healthy movement a cultural norm in the workplace.  A healthy workplace starts at the top. CEOs play an essential role in setting the tone, allocating resources, and creating a culture that prioritizes employee well-being.

Aaptiv: An All-in-One Employee Well-being Solution

Aaptiv offers an all-in-one wellness solution that includes personalized workout plans, access to a network of 19,000+ national and local gyms, and 9,500+ on-demand video and audio classes, offering something for every employee’s wellness journey.

Learn more about Aaptiv employee fitness and wellness benefits.

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