Technology will continue to remove the need for physical presence; however, we need to consider the effects of isolation, work-life separation, and human socialization. I believe that there will be many trends that continue to promote togetherness in every aspect of our lives.

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 Nader Yassa, Founder & CEO of LifeStyle Plan.

Nader has held finance and operations leadership roles in several industries. His experience and qualifications include CEO and CFO positions, a Big 4 CPA, mergers and acquisitions, post-acquisition integration, international Sarbanes-Oxley implementation, large-scale project management, and integrated financial modeling. For more than 25 years Nader has provided personal finance coaching, education, and direct financial management services to more than 200 working households and has now applied his experience and technology to deliver those methods and principles through LifeStyle Plan.

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.

I realized early in my career that there were aspects of my professional and personal life that were simply out of my control. I decided then that I could either hope they would change, or I could choose to take advantage of having responsibility in the form of “Response-Ability” to control them. Even though I may not have been able to control everything around me, I was absolutely in control of my response. What I found out was that response-able people are sought after, and I was presented with many opportunities.

One of those opportunities was to lead post-acquisition integration, that is integrating acquired companies into the acquiring company’s operations, for one of the largest industry roll-ups in the United States. This experience showed me the results of being response-able, opened the door to many other attractive opportunities and encouraged me to not just let life happen, but to live and work with purpose; and by all means to remain response-able.

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?

At LifeStyle Plan, we believe that the lack of wellness in any area is evident in the form of stress, and that the cause of stress for most of us is not being able to properly take care of ourselves and our family. We encourage our team to maintain their priorities and set attainable goals that will alleviate unnecessary stress and allow them to reach their highest potential. Financial wellness is our core competency and the service that we offer to our clients. We created LifeStyle Plan to help address and reverse the effects of financial stress, which is commonly overlooked. Through this innovative service and technology, we are now able to measure financial wealth and what it takes to financially care for yourself and your family.

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?

The goal of a for-profit business is to build financial wealth for its shareholders. The definition of building financial wealth for individuals or businesses is the same — to acquire and maintain income producing and appreciating assets. The most important assets to any business are the humans involved. Without them, nothing happens. No creativity, no productivity, no profitability, and no building of financial wealth.

Organizations benefit greatly from supporting activities that create a well workforce, and the ROI is quite significant. A workforce that is well — the opposite of unhealthy stress — is free to be creative and productive. A confident, well workforce is the most significant wealth-building asset for most organizations; it will produce financial wealth at a speed that will easily outpace the cost of providing impactful wellness programs and provide other immeasurable benefits both the organization and the individual.

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?

Measuring the ROI related to the purchase of a piece of equipment, or a monetized contract is easy; however, measuring the ROI of employee wellness takes time. This is because the programs around wellness need to be implemented and the related ROI of the program of the cohort of employees who participated in the program must be measured against the cohort that did not participate. This takes time and therefore gets put on the backburner because most organizational leadership teams are focused on the next quarter or fiscal year and are short-sighted when it comes to investing in employee wellness.

A belief that solving acute employee issues will have a positive, bottom-line result will help leadership teams forgo immediate gratification and allow the organization to take a long-term view and plant the seeds for a well workforce. Leaders that understand the significance of this ROI will be ready, willing and able to play the long game and everyone will reap the benefits.

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?

We make sure that everyone we speak with understands our core beliefs related to caring for themselves and their family. There are many different forms of taking care of oneself and family, so we believe that having this as a core belief gives our team members the freedom to choose how wellness shows up for them. At LifeStyle Plan, employee wellness takes the form of unlimited time off, flexible schedules, financial wellness education and service (our core competency) and feeling free to verbalize what is necessary to reduce stress and feel well — and being heard and accommodated.

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.

  1. Financial Wellness:
  2. Mental Wellness:
  3. Emotional Wellness:
  4. Social Wellness:
  5. Physical Wellness:

There are a variety of wellness programs each addressing many life stressors. At LifeStyle Plan, we believe that a primary stressor for nearly every single household is financial stress. The statistics show the dismal state of a working household’s personal finances.

Interestingly, until LifeStyle Plan, personal finance and financial wellness has been a DIY activity. I say “interestingly” because in no other critically important part of our life are we left on our own. Most financial wellness programs leave us on our own and are mostly an unsuccessful “check the box” approach to helping employees with their finances. They are limited to apps, videos, hotlines, or investment advisory — none of which really solve the foundational goal of proper financial management.

At LifeStyle Plan, we take the DIY out of personal financial management. We combine powerful software and a certified professional to manage all of the information necessary to fix financial problems, make decisions and plans with confidence and live life on your terms.

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?

Personal finances are part of everyone’s life. The stress, anxiety, and administrative burden of managing personal finances is clear and costly. Imagine a workforce that didn’t worry about money. The financial benefits are significant whether related to reduced turnover, increased productivity, and lower health-care costs. However, the creativity of a workforce that feels free, confident, and happy are immeasurable.

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

A “Work Well” culture is exactly that — a culture. Although there are certainly real activities that take place to promote working well, leadership from the top down need to set the tone through their words and actions to support their direct reports. This management style creates a ripple effect and results in a natural, real (not prescribed) wellness environment.

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?

Nothing happens until somebody does something, so I encourage our team members to communicate their ideas, get them monetized and then take part or lead the effort they believe is worthwhile. Take the initiative — that is the step.

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

  1. Financial wellness. Nearly every household is facing personal financial issues and challenges. Every year, billions of dollars are spent by organizations to extract money from working people, getting them to sell their future in the form of interest payments. Financial wellness is about helping working people build a financial fortress to protect themselves. It has always been important, but in today’s environment it has become critical.
  2. Technology will continue to remove the need for physical presence; however, we need to consider the effects of isolation, work-life separation, and human socialization. I believe that there will be many trends that continue to promote togetherness in every aspect of our lives.

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

Humans — we are creative, innovative, and resilient. When we have common objectives and caring leadership, we can accomplish anything. I believe that we are becoming more vulnerable and authentic, and that more and more leaders are realizing the benefits of creating a workplace that recognizes and addresses their workforce’s greatest challenges. Addressing those challenges effectively allows all of us the freedom to be creative and productive and brings out our best.

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.