Holistic wellness practices will become more common in the workplace — gone are the days where practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness are dismissed as being too ‘woo-woo’. As the benefits become more understood, organizations around the globe will start to bring holistic nutrition, spiritual and even grounding practices into the day-to-day life of the organization.
The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.
As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Bronwen Sciortino.
Bronwen Sciortino is an International Author and Simplicity Expert who spent almost two decades as an award-winning executive before experiencing a life changing event that forced her to stop and ask the question ‘What if there’s a better way to live?’
Embarking on a journey to answer this question, Bronwen developed a whole new way of living — one that teaches you to challenge the status quo and include the power of questions in everyday life.
Gaining international critical acclaim and 5-star awards for her books and her programs, Bronwen spends every day teaching people that there is an easy, practical and simple pathway to creating a healthy, happy AND highly successful life.
Sourced globally for media comment as an expert and working with corporate programs, conference platforms, retreats, professional mentoring and in the online environment, Bronwen teaches people how easy it is to live life very differently.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life.
Like so many others around the world, I worked myself to the bone trying to overachieve all the things I was meant to do. I found myself following a career path that wasn’t a match to who I truly am. I was very busy doing all the things I was ‘supposed’ to do, having the things I was ‘supposed’ to have, and being the person everyone else thought I was ‘supposed’ to be. Even though I was stressed, exhausted and miserable, I kept going because I couldn’t let the people around me down.
Every now and then, I would find myself thinking that I was meant for more — supposed to achieve at a higher level — be of more service to the world. So, I would push harder, believing that I wasn’t achieving in the way I was supposed to.
Ultimately, I took on too much and pushed far too hard for way too long, with absolutely no care for myself. And then I broke. I went from being an award-winning executive to being on the floor, unable to cope with even the basics in life and unable to stop crying. And it happened in less than 60 seconds.
When you break like that, it’s brutal. You have no choice but to stop and take a long, hard look at yourself, your life and who you have become.
And it’s terrifying when you look in the mirror and have no idea who it is looking back at you. You can’t find any shred of yourself in the reflection and you don’t know where to start to turn things around.
As I started to piece myself back together, I realised that for my entire life I had been terrified of writing anything personal down. So, to help me overcome this fear, my homework became to start journaling.
Even now, it’s hard to describe the sheer terror I experienced when trying to start writing. It took me three weeks to write one word on a page, but that one word opened up a whole new world for me.
As the words started to flow, people around me encouraged me to turn them into a book. I kept hearing ‘…the world needs the words you’re writing — you have to do this for them…’ being repeated to me regularly. I discounted these words initially, because I needed the time and space for the words to work for me before I could focus on them being used by others.
Eventually, those words became my first book — ‘Keep It Super Simple’ — and as it went out into the world people started telling me how much they loved it and asking how else they could work with me. Suddenly, I found myself being asked to do keynotes, facilitate workshops, talk to leadership teams, become a mentor, provide group training sessions … and I also had media starting to want to interview me as an expert on simplifying life.
Without meaning to, I had created a global business, teaching people how to tailor-make the life that would match them perfectly and allow them to be happy, healthy AND highly successful.
Now, every day is about teaching people the power of making wellness the number one priority in their lives, and the number one metric in business.
Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?
For me, there are two sides to defining wellness. There’s the wellness of each individual and then there is workplace wellness. Specific individuals can have high levels of wellness, but if your employees aren’t collectively well, then it’s difficult to achieve workplace wellness.
I would define individual wellness as: ‘the conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential through connection to self’.
My definition of workplace wellness is: “bespoke workplace health activities specifically designed to support healthy behaviour in the workplace and improve the health outcomes of the individuals within an organisation”.
Every organisation will have different wellness needs, because every organisation is unique and is made up of a unique set of individuals. This means that a bespoke wellness solution is the only solution that will create a strong outcome for each organisation.
Measuring wellness will be unique to each organisation because it is a direct output of the strategic organisational health & wellness plan that is created. Measurement will depend on the goals that are set, where the organisation is starting from and where they’re wanting to get to, engagement strategies for encouraging individuals within the organisation to participate and the communication strategy for the program.
The most common measurement strategies are set around:
- The strategic aims of the organisation;
- How, when and by whom the program will be introduced and implemented;
- Specific goals;
- Engagement strategies;
- Communication strategies; and
- Actual vs budget (for time and cost).
You can also measure metrics against engagement of employees, sick leave statistics and productivity.
Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?
Most people spend more time in the workplace than in any other environment in their day-to-day life. This remains true whether they are physically working in the office, working in a mobile capacity or working from home — they are still engaged in the workplace, it just changes its look and feel depending on where each individual is physically located. Globally, the average number of hours per day spent in the workplace is 9 hours.
Recent research shows that:
58% of employees are saying they’ve experienced burnout in the past 3 months alone. That’s a whole lot of your people who are trying to complete their work under a cloud of extreme fatigue and chronic stress.
44% of employees have changed their focus and now place less importance on their career. They’re not less dedicated, they’re just wanting more balance in their life.
Over 60% of employees are worried about their finances — this seems to be a combination of uncertainty caused by the pandemic and/or the significant increase in the cost of living due to rising inflation.
In my opinion, the employees who trust their employers the most are the ones who rate their employer’s commitment to wellness as good or excellent. And the survey backs this up showing that these employees were 47% more likely to say they were loyal to the business they work for.
Health & wellbeing is now streets ahead as the #1 concern for employees, so it should absolutely be the #1 topic of focus for employers.
It costs 50% of an employees salary to replace them with a new hire — and that’s just the dollar cost, it doesn’t take into account the time or opportunity cost of needing to focus on replacing people. Current stats show that over 65% of people globally are actively looking, or about to start looking for a new job. Imagine if you had to spend the time and money replacing over 65% of your workforce.
What would that cost? What would the impact to your productivity and profitability be? And how long would you be able to keep the new people if you haven’t fixed the health & wellbeing issues that drove your previous employees to leave?
Get your organisational health & wellness program right and you’re less likely to experience having to focus on the rotating door syndrome.
Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?
We’re way past the time where organisations can buy an off-the-shelf solution for their health & wellness problems. Stress, burnout and exhaustion are severely out of control globally and it’s absolutely hitting the bottom line.
In any market or industry, without the knowledge or experience to create something like an organisational health & wellness plan, it can seem like the only way to tailor-make a plan that’s specific to your organisation is to bring in outside expertise.
For a long time, there’s been a belief that creating anything bespoke for your organisation comes with a hefty price tag. And perhaps that been true until now.
The health & wellness strategy is such a critical component to operational efficiency these days. Having had personal experience of working within a C-Suite and feeling like I carried the responsibility for the health & wellbeing of employees, I completely understand the juggling act between expense and outcome. I also have the experience of having had a complete breakdown and needing to find the simplest way to put myself and my life back together.
What this gave me is a unique combination of personal and professional experience that enabled me to create an Organisational Health & Wellness Program (you can grab a copy of the planning kit here) that was easy to implement and completely bespoke to the organisation’s needs.
Ultimately, intention always trumps budget. It doesn’t matter what your budget is, there are simple, easy and practical activities you can implement that can support the health & wellbeing of your workplace AND your employees. There are things you can do that encourage your employees to step into personal responsibility for their health & wellbeing that can then be supported by the organisation to make them more powerful.
Engagement from your employees is critical to making your program work, but if you have them involved from the beginning of the planning process, and what you create is truly bespoke for your organisation then engagement should be easier to achieve.
Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?
Wellness is fast becoming the #1 concern for all employees. If you’re recruiting, then wellness needs to be part of the marketing materials you create when promoting the job to entice people to join you.
This could involve including information about your organisation’s wellness program in the advertisement, including information in the position description, on your website, socials (and other public facing domains). I would definitely include a conversation about wellness in any interview process that occurs.
In any conversation you have with a prospective employee, it is important to gain an understanding of what they’re looking for, and expecting, from an employer with regards to wellness programs. Gathering this knowledge will give you another vital piece of information about whether the individual will be a match for your organisation’s culture.
We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on-demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.
In my experience, it doesn’t matter how many days you reduce the working week to, whether you have unlimited PTO, mental health days or on demand mental health services. If you don’t address the issues that have people clambering for these things at the source, then they won’t touch the surface as a solution.
These are bandaid solutions that tame the flow for a short period of time, but the more the pressure builds behind them, the more they will burst at the seams, and you’ll have trauma and crisis on your hands.
It’s so much easier to provide tools and resources that allow every individual to create simple, easy and practical steps for their specific needs and then this releases the pressure in life.
People are crying out for solutions that actually work in their lives. That’s why all my tools and resources are created to assist people to work out what’s going on for them and then gives them the process to create the solution that’s tailor-made for them.
Stepping into this space means you’re working with information that’s relevant to you and you’re creating the solution that’s perfect for you. You waste less time, expend less effort and spend way less money this way.
Workplace wellness can be looked at from multiple disciplines, including: mental, emotional, social, physical and financial wellness.
To help organisations address these areas and create the bespoke solution that is the best fit for them (without breaking the bank!), I created an Organisational Health & Wellness Planning Kit that is a step-by-step guide for organisations to create the program that meets their specific needs and their specific budget.
I also create bespoke training sessions for organisations to help them change their mindset around wellness and better understand the role that wellness plays in the workplace.
To assist individuals, I have created a suite of tools that help them address their individual wellness needs, including:
All of these resources empower individuals to understand the things that are important to them, what they want moving forwards and then create the simplest steps to help them get there. These tools and resources provide information that empower people across all disciplines within wellness (mental, emotional, social, physical and financial) and help them to create the perfect blend that restores balance, ease and grace in their lives.
Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?
My ideas are all about challenging the status quo. Let’s move away from the beliefs and conditioning that are holding us back and start to find the simple, easy and practical ways we can help individuals and organisations achieve their wellness goals alongside being successful.
We’ve been led to believe that we have to choose between being healthy and happy OR being successful. We can have one, or the other … but at a cost.
It’s time to challenge that — it’s an outdated belief that doesn’t serve us anymore.
My whole way of thinking is about asking questions that lead us to the answers that are unique and specific to every individual and every organisation. If there are constraints in place (whether they’re physical, mental, emotional, social or financial) then the questions help us to work out what we can do, rather than be constrained by what we can’t do.
And the best thing about these ideas, tools and resources is that they’re designed in a way that creates a tailor-made solution for individuals and organisations without breaking the bank. They turn bespoke = expensive and unobtainable on its head and provide access to resources that actually work.
How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?
Creating a well workplace starts at the top. If your leaders (right up to board level) don’t believe in the power of wellness, then that filters down through the organisation.
If you truly want wellness to be a key metric within your organisation then you have to give dedicated resources (time, people and money) to infusing it in the every day culture. That doesn’t mean that it needs to be expensive or time consuming, but it does mean that it must be given the same air play as other key metrics.
Leaders need to be taught how to challenge the rules that hold us in place. They need to be supported to find the source of the problem and work with their teams to create the solution that solves the problem, not just ‘bandaids’ the situation.
Each leader should have access to training that allows them to make change in their own lives so they can then take what they’ve learned and help their team members to implement simple, easy and practical steps that move their lives in a different way as well.
When you empower your leaders to lead their people in a connected and inspired way, it makes it easier to transition the whole organisation to a platform that is based on health and wellbeing.
Simplicity training is the key here — it cuts overwhelm in its tracks and provides an environment where a process can be used to achieve long-term success.
Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?
Small, practical and easy steps are key to implementing real and lasting change.
The number one step to take is to understand where the stress in your organisation is coming from. Don’t guess here because there is almost always a gap between what you think are the main culprits and what is actually happening for your people.
The most efficient way to understand this is to ask your employees what is going on for them.
Creating an anonymous survey and having everyone complete it is a great way to gather information and it allows people to be more honest with you than if they were talking face-to-face.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”
- Mental health will become a priority — mental health and emotional well-being challenges have occurred for a long time, but the pandemic has brought them to the surface and they’re now openly talked about. Access to quality resources and tools, reduction in stigma around suffering mental health issues and the need for stress, burnout and anxiety coping mechanisms will become the norm in every day work life. Employers will need to invest in a hybrid of face-to-face and online tools and resources to assist employees in accessing effective healthcare solutions.
- Move from reactive to proactive wellness — we’ll move from health & wellness programs being a ‘nice to have’ to them being a ‘must have’ in every organisation, of every size. Tools and resources provided through these programs will need to cater to the needs of every individual to ensure that collectively the wellness of the workplace is robust.
- Workforce wellbeing will accelerate — workplace wellbeing will become one of the key metrics used to measure the success of an organization. Employees will look to their employer to provide robust and effective health & wellbeing programs and as these roll out, the wellness of organizations globally will accelerate.
- Holistic wellness practices will become more common in the workplace — gone are the days where practices such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness are dismissed as being too ‘woo-woo’. As the benefits become more understood, organizations around the globe will start to bring holistic nutrition, spiritual and even grounding practices into the day-to-day life of the organisation.
- Health equality will become a higher profile issue — one thing the pandemic highlighted was that in some places around the world particular groups of people suffered more than others. This may have been from financial difficulties, from mobility issues or generally from isolation caused by health issues that kept them locked away and unable to get out and about. As we move towards settling into the new ‘norm’ around work and we find the balance between physically working in the office and working from home, organisations will start to work towards creating more equity in the health & wellbeing of all their employees.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?
The world is finally waking up to the danger that unwell workplaces hold.
Individuals are finally taking a stand and turning towards wellness as a ‘must have’ in their lives.
This gives me hope and optimism for the future because I can see movement in a new direction. Now’s the time to get creative and find the solutions that work best for you, your organisation and the people in it.
And let’s get creative about how we create the solutions that work within budgets, within time constraints but have significant power in their results.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
I spend a lot of time in the online space and am frequently sought as an expert for media across all channels. I share a lot of my work through my online platforms that readers can access by connecting with me:
Website Link: https://www.sheiqlife.com/
Free Email Series: https://www.sheiqlife.com/7-steps-email-series/
I also have an online program to assist busy professional women reduce stress and beat burnout that can be accessed here: https://sheiqlife.com/kiss-fbpw/
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.