Investing in Career Wellbeing – A Framework for Managers and Leaders

In the previous two articles in this three-part series, we introduced the idea of the manager as the MVP in the company culture game. We see far less absenteeism, turnover, shrinkage, employee accidents, and defects when employees are engaged and interested in their work. This engagement leads to increased customer engagement, productivity, and sales, which contributes to employees’ overall sense of career wellbeing. Overall, this creates a 23% increase in profitability (Gallup, 2021). Career wellbeing is the most important tenant of a net thriving culture.

Doesn’t that sound ideal?

When companies adopt wellbeing practices as part of their culture, employees develop a sense of openness and comfort in discussing broader wellbeing issues in their lives, allowing managers to direct them toward positive, productive solutions. These trusting employees feel safe, and are less likely to become suspicious (e.g., “Are they offering this program for show, or are they really trying to help me improve my life?”) of the intentions of wellbeing programs your company may offer. What if the employee finds their work boring or miserable? What can be done to facilitate movement away from the mundane to more creative and engaging work?

All you must do is spend a few moments scrolling social media platforms to gather that today’s employees have certain cultural expectations of their employers and managers. They expect clarity surrounding their role; opportunities to use their strengths, development of a career, not just a “job.” They also desire a voice in decisions that affect their work; and to know their hard work contributes to a significant mission and purpose. When organizations fail to meet these expectations, they lose credibility and Gen X’ers, Gen Z’s and Millennials alike are not shy about blasting these shortcomings of their employers on social media platforms.

Chart of what culture is

There are four principles that Gallup proposes that create thriving, resilient, productive, and ENJOYABLE workplaces. At the heart of these principles is leadership, for they are the ones who drive and model the culture. These guiding principles underpin the practices that managers & leaders CAN IMPLEMENT NOW to enhance Career Wellbeing:

Are you beginning to recognize the need to pivot in your organization?

Guiding Principles for Fostering Career Wellbeing

Career Wellbeing Framework

Half of employees worldwide are unclear about their role in their company. Most have no idea if they are succeeding or failing in their jobs. This is damaging to their wellbeing. Those who report unclear expectations at work also report higher daily stress, worry, anxiety and loneliness.

Action Item:

Schedule weekly (minimum) meetings with employees as a standard practice. Check ins are often about getting updates on tasks and projects. Make sure that you set aside at least one weekly meeting to discuss employee development. Prioritize these meetings and do not bump them from your schedule. During these meetings, leaders should:

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Provide adequate resources
  3. Lead collaborative goal setting
  4. Nurture collective intelligence (Collective intelligence refers to a group or a team’s combined capacity and capability to perform a wide variety of tasks and solve diverse problems. Collective Intelligence is consistently predictive of the future performance of groups and teams. (Chikersal, P et al 2017). More on “collective intelligence” in next month’s article.)


Example questions a manager can ask to facilitate productive employee meetings:

How are you experiencing your role? Is there anything about your role that needs clarifying or changing?

How might you expand your role to meet your own personal needs/goals?

What are your short- and long-term goals? (these can be personal and/or professional)

How can I be helpful to you in reaching these goals?

Do you have the right tools to do your job effectively?

Those who are not doing what they do best report higher rates of boredom and burnout in their daily lives. They have lower energy throughout the day and are more likely to be struggling or suffering in all areas of their lives.

Managers and leaders can support the idea of “doing what you do best, everyday” by identifying and maximizing employee strengths. Managers who position their people to use their natural talents get better results overall.

Action Item:

Identify and engage unique strengths within roles by giving employees challenging assignments that align with their natural abilities. Use evidence-based assessments such as the Gallup StrengthsFinder to help identify strengths and think outside of the box to find opportunities to use and build on those strengths.

Employees need to feel that their organization cares about their wellbeing. They need to know that someone at work genuinely cares about them, is invested in their future – their personal and professional growth. When people are stunted, their thinking becomes narrower and more self-serving (i.e., what’s in it for me?) rather than company focused (i.e., how can our team collaborate with other teams to do what’s best for our customers?)

Employees often quit their jobs because no one talked to them about their future.

Action Item:

Help employees identify career goals and design a career management system that includes mentoring and tracking goals and objectives. This includes:

  1. Mentor-Mentee matching
  2. Goal setting and tracking sessions
  3. Regular check-ins
  4. Feedback & support
  5. Evaluation & reflection


When coaching my individual clients, the most common frustration is around career development. One of my clients (we will call her Clara) recently reported that she went to her manager to express that she was feeling as though her work at a major Software development company was overlooked and undervalued. Clara also expressed a sincere desire to grow and move up in the company but felt disadvantaged and unsupported given that she was a remote employee.   This left Clara feeling lost and wondering if she should look for another job.

The manager should have been more curious to find out why Clara was feeling this way. The manager could also have proposed that Clara take a strengths assessment and then had a 1:1 to discuss the findings and find ways to build on those strengths. Opening this dialogue and space for development exploration may have helped determine whether Clara was being challenged in the right role/position based on her strengths, personal wishes, and needs.

Intentionally seeking out your employees’ opinions is especially important with remote and hybrid workers. When leaders actually implement changes as a result, it creates buy-in and promotes strong propinquity and career wellbeing. Employees experience a sense of “I built this.” The most successful managers leverage their team’s input for better decision-making. They encourage dialogue and debate and create a team culture of problem solving. Just remember that you might not be able to implement all of your employee’s suggestions, so make sure that you close the loop to let them know what you did with their feedback.

Action Item:

Actively empower employee expression of opinion and seek out employee input.


Provide an anonymous survey soliciting opinions and conduct informal meetings or gatherings for open dialogue and discussion. This requires a genuine curiosity about the employee’s experience and their thoughts and ideas. Acknowledge employees for their time and effort in providing feedback.

While Millennials and Gen Z demand purpose-driven, purpose-oriented work, ALL generations rate an organization’s purpose as a key factor when joining a company. Everyone thrives when they understand and are aligned with the mission of the organization. Develop a well thought out mission so that your employees experience meaningful, valued work.

Action Item:

Make your mission and purpose clear and concise so every employee can relate to it and the work they do every day that contributes to that mission.


Team building activities focused on developing a better understanding of culture and values can help to remind employees of their mission and purpose. It also promotes internal closeness and connections. One simple activity to instill this into the fabric of a company is to incorporate a reflection exercise in regular team huddles or meetings where team members share how their daily tasks contribute to the company’s mission and purpose. Employees can share stories of how their work positively impacts clients, customers, or the community, which reinforces the larger purpose behind their work.

The role of managers and leaders in fostering career wellbeing impacts employee engagement, productivity, and overall company culture. The framework presented here can be used to set clear expectations, capitalize on strengths, facilitate career development, and create happy, healthy, productive employees. People who are engaged in meaningful and valued work in supportive environments make for greater success in any business.


Chikersal, Prerna, et al. “Deep Structures of Collaboration: Physiological Correlates of Collective Intelligence and Group Satisfaction.” Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2017). 2017.

Clifton, Jim & Harter, Jim. Wellbeing at Work, Gallop Press, 2021. 1st Edition

Harter, Jim. Wellbeing. The Five Essential Elements, Gallop Press, 2021. 3rd Edition.  

About the Author:

Dr. Kate Burton is a core member of the +One team. She is a Doctor of Psychology and former Clinical Psychologist, practicing for 15 years working with people of all ages, couples, and families with diverse needs and goals. She uses this background as a foundation for her consultation and coaching practice, applying her clinical skills to guide and mentor managers, business owners, and executives to create a more positive and productive workplace culture. Dr. Burton initiates change by creating mutual relationships built on trust. She is dedicated to understanding complicated relationship dynamics in order to foster more interpersonal effectiveness, motivation, and high satisfaction in the workplace.