17 Aug 2023

What is the role of the Chief People Officer in employee wellbeing?


The role of a Chief People Officer (CPO) has evolved significantly over the years from a traditional HR focused executive to a strategic director of all things people. As organisations have come to recognise the importance of employee wellbeing for engagement and productivity, the CPO’s responsibilities have shifted to include overseeing and enhancing initiatives focused on the overall health and happiness of the workforce.

Employee wellbeing and its impact on engagement

Engaged employees are critical for a company’s success. They are more productive, creative, and loyal to the organisation. One of the key factors contributing to higher engagement levels is employee wellbeing. When employees feel valued, cared for, and supported in their professional and personal lives, they are more likely to be engaged and dedicated to their work. In fact they are 87% less likely to quit a job that they feel engaged in, regardless of other factors. As a result, organisations have increasingly invested in employee wellbeing programs, recognising their benefits for both employees and the company as a whole.

The role of the Chief People Officer in employee wellbeing

Designing employee wellbeing programs

The Chief People Officer plays a central role in designing employee wellbeing programs tailored to the organisation’s specific needs and culture. They identify key areas of concern, such as mental health, work-life balance, or employee burnout, and develop targeted initiatives to address these issues.

This may even be as simple as promoting flexible working methods, such as the 9 day fortnight, that are known to be popular with employees. However, flexible working for employee retention must be instituted correctly – an openness to listening to feedback is key.

Wellbeing programmes should be viewed holistically. Organisations like Google do a good job at offering a range of programmes – from flexiwork to employee workout classes – to ensure that there is something for everyone.

Implementing employee wellbeing initiatives

The Chief People Officer is responsible for implementing employee wellbeing initiatives and ensuring their success. They coordinate with managers, team leaders, and HR professionals to promote and integrate these initiatives into the company culture.

The CPO may introduce new policies or modify existing ones to support employee wellbeing, such as flexible work arrangements, stress management programs, or mental health resources. The key for success here is shouting out your wellbeing policy, so employees can take advantage.

Monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of employee wellbeing programs

To determine the effectiveness of employee wellbeing programs, the CPO should establish metrics for measuring their impact on employee engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction. One way of monitoring success is implementing regular one to one meetings with employees to gather feedback informally and formally. The CPO monitors these metrics over time and adjusts the programs as needed based on feedback from employees and measurable outcomes.

Championing a culture of employee wellbeing

The Chief People Officer is the organisation’s chief advocate for employee wellbeing. That means that it is essential that they lead by example and model behaviours and attitudes that promote a culture of wellbeing. This means actively participating in wellbeing initiatives, encouraging open dialogue about mental health and work-life balance, and advocating for policies that support employee wellbeing.

Aligning employee wellbeing initiatives with strategic objectives

Employee wellbeing programs should align with the company’s overall strategic objectives. After all the Chief People Officer is a part of the C Suite, and takes on an executive level role towards people operations. The Chief People Officer must work closely with the leadership team to ensure that employee wellbeing initiatives support the organisation’s goals and values. By integrating employee wellbeing into the company’s mission, the CPO reinforces the importance of employee wellbeing for the organisation’s success.

Engaging employees in wellbeing initiatives

The Chief People Officer should actively engage employees in wellbeing initiatives, encouraging participation and fostering a sense of ownership. This might involve creating employee-led committees to plan and implement wellbeing initiatives, soliciting feedback and suggestions from employees, or hosting workshops and events that promote employee wellbeing.