· 1 min read · Features

CEO buy-in


It’s the curse of health and wellbeing that it can often be seen as fluffy, rather than a strategic business imperative. And this means it can be tricky to get buy-in from the top, or any hard cash for investing in an initiative.

At design and engineering consultancy Atkins, HR business partner Amanda Stickland managed to overcome this, introducing an initiative to train line managers in supporting wellbeing that was backed by key leaders.

“Our MD leads the training scheme,” she says. “His sponsorship, him saying ‘this is important’, sends a powerful message to all line managers.”

Geoff Robins, group managing director of Atkins’ defence, aerospace and communications division, says of the initiative: “The wellbeing intervention has had a positive impact. Happy employees mean happy clients and that’s what really matters to our business.”

If you want to achieve a similarly positive result and get the senior leadership team on side, Stickland has the following advice:

  • You have to be very clear about what you mean by wellbeing when speaking to the board. And you have to be able to link it to their biggest business issue, and explain how it will help. I linked it to the issues we were having with recruiting and retaining talent.

  • You are talking to very strategic people, so make sure you think at that strategic level.

  • Speak their language and link it to things like ROI or high performance – don’t just talk about wellbeing.