When understanding an organisation's culture, I don’t talk to HR or Risk Management, I observe the CEO. The CEO sets the agenda for the leadership group, who in turn set the expectations for staff.

Without the CEO, any investment in corporate wellness is likely just to turn out as an interesting exercise, and is unlikely to result in any sustained impact.

The Need to be a Selfish CEO
Most leaders are ingrained with the idea that, regardless of circumstances, they need to available for their staff. However, this creates an outflow of energy that is not restored unless the executive concerned takes decisive and consistent action to be ‘selfish’ and take care of themselves.

This is no longer a ‘soft’ issue. It is a clear and present danger to the health of any organisation.
Let’s face it; a burnt out CEO is of no use to any business.  

Wellness and Risk
For me, Wellness means to be able to act at our best in three key ways. Firstly, to be at our best cognitively so we can solve complex problems; secondly; to be at our best physically so we have the energy and constitution to act; and finally to be at our best emotionally so we have the resilience to overcome setbacks and the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.

Without these factors we are at risk of masking critical mistakes because we can’t foresee issues or identify ways to mitigate their impact. When we’re distracted by fatigue and stress our decision making and performance is compromised further so the prospect of mistakes increases exponentially as does the impact on the business. Think of a major error and you’ll find someone not operating at their ultimate best.

Wellness Plan

These three factors play a role regardless of your intelligence, experience and capability so the onus is on you to manage your own wellness plan if you want to be at your  best both in and out of the office.

On an organisational level, corporate wellness starts with the CEO who either sets the agenda to support the business or doesn’t. This will lead to a leader making the right decisions individually and then role modelling these across the business. As a result, the team, division or , organisation will be able to focus on their wellness as a priority and make good decisions to be at their cognitive, physical and emotional best. This will then mitigate the risk of errors, mistakes and poor performance.

While there is a world of content out there on this topic, we have summarised the key points in our 6 cylinders of wellness so feel free to use our guide and scorecard

Christopher Paterson is the managing director of ALCHEMY Career Management, a firm which supports individuals to transition their career, assists companies adapting to organisational change and delivers Wellness@Work™ programs for any organisation wanting to help staff to be at their best. For more information, please see