Financial Awareness — All organizations should provide retirement planning, credit score monitoring, and financial literacy training for all employees. This will be especially important for remote employees, who may only learn about financial information through digital training.

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 Gerald Lombardo.

Gerald Lombardo is Co-Founder of The Word Counter, ( a dynamic online tool used for counting words, characters, sentences, paragraphs, and pages in real-time, along with spelling and grammar checking. In just over a year, he built his site from 0 to 600,000 visitors a month. Additionally, he is Head of Link Acquisition at GR0, which is an LA-based SEO and Digital Marketing Agency.

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.

After graduating from Florida State University, where I studied Philosophy and Business, I struggled to think about how I could utilize my degrees in a professional sense. While still living in Florida, I began working as a digital marketing specialist writing, planning, and editing digital content and client relations for a variety of businesses and industries.

Once I started to expand on my knowledge of digital marketing, I moved to a different organization where I found a position as a content coordinator. Between the experience I gained at both companies, I eventually landed my current job, based in LA, with GR0.

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 a very subjective term. What one person might consider a beneficial element in their life, another might see the same thing as harmful. We define the term as a state of complete mental, physical, and social health, which allows the individual to not only survive, but thrive. We measure employee wellness by surveys, as well as in-person and virtual meetings, to gain feedback from our team about how they are coping during these trying times.

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?

Simply put, well people work well. As an organization, we strive to offer all that we can to our employees in order to promote their well-being. By us creating an environment that bolsters wellness, our entire company benefits. All businesses want to focus on profitability. However, if your profits are coming at the expense of your employees’ mental, physical, or emotional health, you need to reevaluate where your priorities lie.

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?

As I mentioned in my previous response, if you are thinking more about your company’s profits more than the well-being of your employees, employee retention will decrease as they will start looking for jobs elsewhere. The pandemic has been instrumental in facilitating conversations about where employees want to devote their time. In order to attract strong talent in 2022 and beyond, employers need to take wellness programs into account.

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?

In addition to amazing benefits, we offer assistance for issues such as substance abuse, stress, anxiety, and depression. By offering these support programs outside of the workplace, we find that employees are able to focus better at work and be happier and more productive. At the very least, the option to use these services provides peace of mind for employees. Additionally, we encourage employees to be honest with management; if they feel comfortable enough, we want them to let us know if they are having a hard time.

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: Talkspace is an online therapy platform that matches users with licensed therapists wherever they may live. We have found it to be an amazing platform that our whole team utilizes if needed.
  • Emotional Wellness: We promote mindfulness by encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the day if they need to stop, breathe, and clear their heads during stressful situations. This helps employees stay in check with their emotions and feel a greater sense of self-worth.
  • Social Wellness: Team connectivity is essential. We try to meet at least once a month for virtual team building exercise, where employees can learn to connect in ways that do not involve the business.
  • Physical Wellness: We offer memberships to local gyms for all employees, whether they are in-office or remote, in order to emphasize that physical health influences our overall well-being as well.
  • Financial Wellness: When offering employee satisfaction surveys, we include questions which relate to an employee’s thoughts about how stable they feel financially. As financial stress can be quite debilitating, we want to make sure we are doing the most we can as an employer to support our team.

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?

When it comes to well-being, you need to think about the big picture. As an employer, you want to create an environment where your employee’s mental, emotional, social, physical, and financial needs are all being fulfilled. In the midst of the Great Resignation, this is more important than ever because employees are very vocal about the need for finding fulfilling employment.

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

Since our inception, we have payed close attention to well-being, and incorporate it into our core values. Our leadership team is in regular close contact with our team through in-person and virtual meetings. If there are any ways that management can improve, we are eager to know. It is simply through communication that we are able to address the needs of our team.

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?

I think an improved awareness about the importance of well-being is the first key step to making positive changes. Everyone, from a single employee to the CEO of an organization, is capable of broadening their education about how to improve our lives. Being curious and learning are two great qualities to have in regards to getting well.

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

  • Workplace Flexibility — The world has witnessed the benefits of working from home. Lower stress levels, higher productivity, and happier employees are three simple byproducts of remote work. Organizations need to be flexible; if certain employees want to stay at home and others want to come in to the office, so be it. Do what works best for you and your team.
  • Increased Staycation and PTO — Irrespective of the pandemic, employee burnout is still a very real concern for many businesses. Make sure that your team has the ability to take a step back to rest and recharge. It is important to keep in touch with employees, especially if you can see productivity beginning to dip due to stress and exhaustion.
  • Personal Investment — We are going to see more organizations thinking of the “long game” and investing more in current employees, rather than thinking of hiring new employees too quickly. This will create a more caring view of their organization and everyone that works for them.
  • In-Office Physical Wellness — I believe that in the future, organizations will support employees’ physical comfort in the workplace. They might focus on ergonomic office furniture, light settings, natural light points, and water and air quality.
  • Financial Awareness — All organizations should provide retirement planning, credit score monitoring, and financial literacy training for all employees. This will be especially important for remote employees, who may only learn about financial information through digital training.

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

I believe that it is crucial to be optimistic about the future; taking any other perspective is counterproductive and a waste of time. I think that mental, emotional, social, physical, and financial well-being is going to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds as we move through 2022 and beyond. The important thing is to take each day as it comes, and focus on taking small steps that will lead to big 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?

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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.