Structured Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can bring together employees who are passionate about a specific initiative and can be empowering in activating impactful programs. Formalizing these groups and dedicating budgets for them to make an impact in wellness, DEI, and impact initiatives are becoming more common and an effective way to drive positive change.

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 Brooke Waupsh, founding CEO of Swoovy (

Brooke is an award-winning marketer with experience breathing life into established brands such as Coors, Clorox, and Charles Schwab, as well as successfully introducing a new consumer brand to the market within financial technology that is now nationwide and supported by the 4th largest network of financial institutions behind Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo. She was the recipient of the Austin Young Chamber’s 2021 FAVE Award for Young-Professional Led Business, a “Profile in Power’’ finalist for the Austin Business Journal, was a two-time finalist for the “Austin Under 40” awards for “Start-Up and Innovation”, and has also been featured as a “Female Disruptor” by Authority Magazine, a “Rising Star” by Voyage Austin and “Woman to Watch” by On The Dot. Brooke has also contributed to the Built In Expert Network, served an active mentor for the Young Women’s Alliance, led three practicum courses for entrepreneurship students at the McCombs Business School at the University of Texas, and mentored students from the C.T. Bauer College of Business Masters in Finance program at the University of Houston.

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.

As a young working professional, I took a position at an early-stage company and was given an incredible opportunity with open reins to build out a significant piece of business. I took on the challenge with gusto and was determined to do whatever it took. I was successful but also along the journey, I worked myself into a place of debilitating anxiety. I worked around the clock, barely taking breaks each day, much less finding balance in my life or self-care. Unfortunately, it took my body hitting a wall when the anxiety came on, but I proactively found a wellness center and began a journey of education and intention around how to develop a relationship with my work (which is very fulfilling for me!) that would provide space for productivity and achievement, as well as personal development and care.

This experience, along with the evolution in my mind, and how I now approach work continued on, which allowed me to thrive when I first had my son, and then through a pandemic while building a start-up company and being a single mom at home. While being at home, this mindset also allowed me to find time to be present with my son, providing him an education, and soaking in all of the time and experiences we could during that time.

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?

Wellness is not something that is achieved at a point in time. It is an active daily pursuit of integrating activities into your life that promote positive physical and mental outcomes. Wellness has multiple dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial, and environmental.

We need to have measures in place to allow employees to self-assess their wellness, have an open space to ask for help in these areas, and provide benefits that proactively support achieving wellness across the board. These can be qualitative assessments through surveys, as well as qualitative open conversations and check-ins with employees and contractors.

Volunteering has proven to promote mental and physical wellness for individuals and is something that we encourage as part of our wellness program, and support for outside companies looking to provide their employees easy access to opportunities that can support their wellness through work/life balance, and a sense of purpose outside of their daily jobs.

According to a study by the Stanford Center of Longevity, individuals who volunteer with nonprofits report elevated moods and less depression.

Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a good workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?

There are many factors to consider when it comes to employee wellness, and it can be somewhat difficult to measure against specific productivity and profitability impact. Outside of these two metrics, companies should also look at cost savings or mitigation with a more well and engaged workforce.

A few areas you can track to assess the positive impact of investing in wellness and engagement programs include: 1) the number of sick days used by employees, 2) turnover and attrition rates, 3) year-over-year insurance claims, and 4) employee satisfaction surveys and interviews.

According to recent reports from Gallup and Harvard Business Review, companies with engagement programs in place have seen a 16% increase in profitability, an 18% increase in productivity, and a 12% increase in customer loyalty.

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?

Yes! It’s time for companies to put their money where their mouth is and stop saying they want to offer better wellness and engagement programs and start investing in it. The ROI is unmatchable when you look at employee retention and the ability to bring in top talent.

It’s quick math any way you slice it. One low-hanging fruit example: Today, it costs over 50% of an employee’s salary to backfill them. With turnover being at an all-time high, and individuals having more choices and opportunities to make professional shifts, you’re not only looking at the cost to backfill, but the cost to recruit, AND the cost to bring someone in at a higher salary (generally a 13% lift).

If you look at just the goal to decrease attrition or reduce recruitment costs, you have your budget to invest in wellness and engagement programs.

We have an easy ROI calculator here that can help you quickly determine the cost of your employee attrition and potential savings with programs aimed at reducing that rate.

Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank well-being as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?

As it should be. Gallup defines the 5 areas of well-being as a career, social, financial, physical, and community. As an overarching starting point to determining the best programs to have in place for well-being, you need to think through a DEI lens first. There is no one-size-fits-all so it’s important to find programs you can implement that offer the ability for an individual to find or access the resources that are meaningful for them.

For example, when you look at the financial component, there’s compensation to consider, there’s also the root consideration that, due to underlying circumstances you may not know of, they may be in a place at home where they do not have enough money to put food on the table for their family or pay medical bills — do you have a financial program in place that covers that?

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.

  • Mental Wellness:
  • Emotional Wellness:
  • Social Wellness:
  • Physical Wellness:
  • Financial Wellness:

When looking at these areas in combination with Gallup’s study, the only difference is that mental/emotional is more of a combined area and “career” is also considered a separate area.

With Swoovy, we were intentional in looking at how to provide an employee program for companies (and our own) that support these 5 areas of well-being by making volunteerism more attainable for individuals. From a career standpoint, it provides you the opportunity to develop various skill sets and get exposure and experience with different organizations that can be satisfying. Socially, you can connect with colleagues through shared interests along with other volunteers within your community. Financially, you have the opportunity to give your time (which is worth $29.95 per hour volunteered with a nonprofit) vs. donating, which you may not have the money for. Data also shows volunteering has a positive impact on your physical health, and the obvious community component is there.

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?

Specific ways companies benefit from implementing an employee volunteer program include:

  1. A more positive corporate brand reputation and culture that differentiates the company in recruitment, to end customers, and with key stakeholders. Recruitment sites, such as Glassdoor and Indeed, among others, now have ratings and reviews for culture, social responsibility, and benefits including volunteering that are used for comparison for job seekers.

2. Professional development opportunities for employees through access to volunteer opportunities.

3. Attracting top talent through well-rounded benefits programs that include volunteering as a way to find purpose outside of work also reap positive mental and physical benefits. It’s a competitive hiring market right now, and a recent study by Cone Communications found that close to 80% of employees consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work.

4. Stronger demonstration of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Environmental Social Governance (ESG), and Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) when you can tie corporate impact goals to what is meaningful and actionable for individual employees — which is where we focus with Swoovy’s volunteer platform.

5. Reduce operational expenses tied to employee turnover and attrition. Josh Bersin of Deloitte believes the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5–2.0x the employee’s annual salary. The true costs of turnover include hiring, onboarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover, higher business error rates, and general culture impacts.

How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?

As mentioned before, wellness does not come from one completed action or choice, it takes active daily pursuit. I encourage this not only through making resources available that support key areas of wellness, but also as part of our daily and weekly discussions ensuring it is as high of a priority as successfully delivering new features to our platform and making sure we have happy clients and engaged users. We set corporate and personal goals. We have status meetings and discuss both. Even in the most recent small group coffee connections that I host for nonprofit professionals, we hit the topics of wins, challenges, and upcoming goals, and then I ask, “What is one thing you’re doing for yourself that you can share with the group to help us all with personal balance and growth?” Making it a safe place to talk about self-care and bringing it to the forefront goes a long way.

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?

The biggest thing I would say here is don’t go into “analysis paralysis” or fall victim to the quarterly planning, budgeting, and review process when it comes to employee wellness and engagement. Companies can’t afford to discuss what to implement next quarter or next year, it’s about what can you implement next week that can make a difference in these areas. Look at budgets that may already exist if you need to, like the t-shirt budget — if one shirt out of the year was reallocated to something more meaningful to your employees, then there you go. No incremental budget, just incremental impact.

In our case, we speak with a lot of companies that want to have that one big corporate day of service, but “oh, the budget it will take”, and “oh, the planning it will take”, so it gets delayed. Instead, they could be empowering their employees to volunteer DAILY, making an impact on the community, connecting with colleagues through shared interests — two at a time, one at a time, versus expecting the whole company to show up — and reaping the mental and physical rewards along the way. Why does it need to be the big service day which is usually a top-down decision on what everyone will do? What’s the end goal, and how can you achieve that more efficiently and effectively?

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”


This budget and spending are no longer optional, or one company can cut without severe consequences, as demonstrated by the trend of the Great Resignation.


How can you evolve past programs to meet individual interests and needs? No longer can programs be a top-down choice or something that is one-size-fits-all.


Structured Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can bring together employees who are passionate about a specific initiative and can be empowering in activating impactful programs. Formalizing these groups and dedicating budgets for them to make an impact in wellness, DEI, and impact initiatives are becoming more common and an effective way to drive positive change.


During the pandemic, we learned we can function remotely, and many came to the realization that was their happy place. Companies will not be able to force employees back into the office, or they’ll lose them. Hoteling office spaces will be necessary, and technical platforms that support community and engagement for programs that used to require in-person interaction will be the foundation for maintaining and growing culture through enabling connections.


According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 60% of US employees experienced mental health symptoms last year, and 8 out of 10 did not see treatment due to shame. Unaddressed mental health conditions cost US companies nearly $17 billion per year in productivity loss and 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z employees have left a prior role for mental health reasons. Organizing ERGs around mental health, creating a safe space for people to share their stories, and activating holistic resources supporting mental health outside of traditional health care, such as volunteering as noted by the Mayo Clinic, are imperative.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?

I think that it’s fantastic that employees now feel that they have a voice. They can demand more in what they expect from their employer as it pertains to how and where they want to work and what they need to be most productive and satisfied. There is a choice, which is great. You should feel valued at your company. You should feel loyal to the mission and values, and people are more intentional now about making sure they are in the right seat on the right bus.

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?

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Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.