Workplace Wellness: What Is Its Future?

Blog 138 PicWorkplace wellness is getting a lot of press! The benefits of employer wellness strategies are both applauded and condemned. Amidst this debate over the value of workplace wellness efforts today, the Global Wellness Institute has launched a new initiative to address its future.

I’m delighted to chair the Future of Workplace Wellness Initiative with the aim to bring together top leaders and wellness experts who will offer thought leadership about a new vision of impact for wellness at work in the global community. Excellent efforts such as World Economic Forum’s Workplace Wellness Alliance, HERO and more are already identifying best practices for wellness at work worldwide. Few efforts however address the role wellness – and its cousin, wellbeing – can play to reinvent how organizations are conceived of, designed and led, including how work gets done. The Future of Workplace Wellness initiative complements emerging endeavors such as B-Corp and Huffington Post What’s Working: Profit + Purpose to explore how the deeper values of wellness and vitality on every level – self, relationships, communities, societies – can be an avenue to sustainable success through workplaces.

A passionate group of initiative members agree. Leaders and wellness experts who have already committed to this initiative are:

Awara Mendy Adeagbo, Kurbo Health

Jamie Brauser, Endlessly Organics

James Brewer, Steelcase

Jonathan Burgess, The Spinnaker Group

Dr. Luba Burtyk, Citi Health Services

Maggie Hsu, The Downtown Project & Zappos

Laurie Indelicato, Ultimate Softward

Dr. Fikry Isaac, Johnson & Johnson

Christopher Labrecque, Insurance Office of America

Shawn LaVana, Virgin Pulse

Kelley McCabe, eMindful

Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, University of Arizona & University of California Schools of Medicine

Mary Ellen Rose, PhD, Institute for Healthy Destination Accreditation

Mim Senft, Optum Health @ Goldman Sachs

Kirstie Settas-Jones, Willis North America Human Capital Practice

Dan Shackleton-Jones, Shackleton Advisers

The initiative kickoff occurred on Monday 28 September, where members explored assumptions and approaches for workplace wellness that seem to be dying along with those emerging as innovative and new. The conversation ended by creating thought-starter questions for guiding workplace wellness toward a more impactful future:

  • How can we as an employer help everyone be his or her best self? What does this mean for people, and what does it mean for the employer?
  • Who is “in charge” of wellness? The employer or the employee?
  • What role does space play in supporting or hindering employee wellbeing?
  • Given diverse populations and needs, how do we develop wellness strategies and programs that are culturally appropriate, relevant, and valuable?
  • How do we support wellness as a lifestyle rather than a passing offering?
  • How do we embrace the diversity and great ideas about what wellness looks and feels like that our employees have globally?
  • What do employees need in the workspace to have a better work/life balance?
  • Given turmoil in the world, how do we support our employees’ wellbeing on all levels, helping them (and our organization) be resilient?
  • Who are we as a company? What will we do to keep our employees healthy, productive and safe? And how do we merge those two interests?
  • What role could workplace wellness have in uplifting communities and societies?
  • As countries experiment with wellbeing metrics, how might that impact workplace wellness?
  • How might we build organizations designed around human thriving?

“This initiative draws on the momentum for redefining wellness at work we’ve built through executive roundtables we’ve convened over the past few months,” says GWI Founder and CEO Susie Ellis. “And it aligns with our larger mission to empower wellness worldwide by connecting key stakeholders who can impact the wellbeing of our planet’s citizens. The Future of Workplace Wellness initiative allows us to collectively explore what can we do together to carve a more powerful path for wellness at work that we cannot – as siloed organizations – do alone.”

I’m enthused about the new paths of thinking and action this initiative can birth to encourage employers everywhere to uplift people and benefit societies through their organizations. If you want more information, see the Global Wellness Institute. To contribute your voice to the initiative or add your guiding question to the starting list above, contact Renee Moorefield at renee@wisdom-works.com.

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