The Creation of a Corporate Social Responsibility Program and Culture that Supports a Sustainable Workforce: While it’s important for the organization to be socially accountable for the impact it has on the environment, it’s more important for the organization to provide the time, energy and resources necessary to make developing a Sustainable Workforce an organizational priority.

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 Paul Glover.

Paul is the No B.S. Workplace Legacy Coach, a “recovering trial lawyer”, the author of WorkQuake™: Making the Seismic Shift to a Knowledge Economy, a speaker on The Future of Work, and a Member of the Forbes Coaching Council.

He works with corporate leadership to create sustainable work environments that provide well-being for employees.

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 was a Federal Court trial lawyer for 25years. To successfully represent my clients, I often worked 60–80-hour long weeks, preparing for and performing in front of a jury. After a long-forced hiatus from practicing law, I decided there was a better way to integrate my work life with my personal life. Through increased self-awareness and research, I was able to understand what I had to do to control the flow of time and energy so I could remain highly productive and engage in recovery activities that allowed me to live a more sustainable life.

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?

Before the pandemic, most organizations defined their employees’ well-being as the need for basic healthcare for employees and their families. If they responded to the employees’ and their families’ need for assistance in the areas of mental, physical or financial health, they would provide support through an established Employee Assistance Program.

Post-pandemic, the organizations I’m advising, are defining employee wellness in the context of creating sustainable employees. This means recognizing employees have a personal life that is inevitably integrated with their work life. This integration impacts — both positively and negatively — an employee’s ability to be productive in the work environment, whether that work environment is onsite or remote.

Based on the recognition that the needs of employees extend outside the work environment, these employers are engaging with the employee holistically by creating outreach programs, seeking to understand the needs of the employee’s family and community and determining how they can best respond to those needs.

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?

Increasing employee well- being is recognized as a fundamental way to increase employee satisfaction, engagement, commitment, and retention. These elements, which are provided exclusively by the individual members of the work force, are directly connected, and provide the basis for increasing productivity and profit.

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?

They need to look at the rate of engagement of their workforce. According to the 2021 Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, only 35% of the workforce is engaged, while 17% are actively disengaged — I’ve termed them The Working Dead — and they contribute to creating a toxic work environment. The Great Resignation has made it clear that ignoring employees’ well-being is no longer an option if an organization wants to attract and retain its talent, increase employee engagement and enjoy the attendant benefits of increased productivity, retention and profit.

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?

Post-pandemic, wellness programs have become an important element of employee recruitment efforts. Employees looking for a new employment opportunity want supportive employers, who demonstrate they care about their employees holistically. To demonstrate the employer has this perspective, and differentiate themselves from the competition, the companies I consult with on work environment wellness provide robust health care coverage, including dental and eye care, physical health initiatives (i.e. gym membership and nutrition classes), and mental and well-being programs (i.e. financial counseling, mental health days off to recharge in addition to sick days, community outreach programs, family counselling, providing healthy foods at work).

These care and well-being programs, are placed on the company’s career page, and illustrate an employee centric culture, showing job seekers the company really does care about their employees’ health and their well-being.

Employees are encouraged to be the company’s ambassadors and post on the company’s social media platforms — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok — their engagement, where appropriate, in the company’s health and fitness programs and community outreach programs. These employee testimonials, illustrating the company’s commitment to employees’ health and well-being, provide invaluable support to the company’s recruitment program.

In addition, by supporting employee wellness and providing robust well-being programs, companies create employee advocates who, because they believe their employer care about their health and well-being, are 28% more likely to recommend their company to job seekers — the best way to recruit new employees.

And, if employees are not participating in the company’s recruitment efforts, it’s time to evaluate whether the company’s commitment to employees’ health and well-being is as robust as it should be.

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

Requiring leaders to accept and support a well-being culture begins with understanding the value such a culture will bring to the organization: an increase in employee engagement, performance and retention that can result in a 21% increase in profitability. Since Empathetic Leadership represent a departure from the way most leaders were taught to interact with their Team Members, how to blend the professional aspects of their leadership role with the personal interaction their team members need requires training in Authentic Communication, Empathetic Listening and Being Perpetually Curious.

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?

Getting and giving recognition at work is something all employees crave. Creating a Weekly Recognition Program that everyone in the organization, at every level, can participate in, will make employees feel acknowledged for who they are and what they do, which empowers them and creates a sense of well-being.

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

  1. The Creation of a Corporate Social Responsibility Program and Culture that Supports a Sustainable Workforce: While it’s important for the organization to be socially accountable for the impact it has on the environment, it’s more important for the organization to provide the time, energy and resources necessary to make developing a Sustainable Workforce an organizational priority.

A Sustainable Workforce is created and sustained by employment practices that link the employee’s well-being to the employee’s employment experiences. This can only be accomplished when the organization realizes its employees are no longer replaceable parts, but are equal stakeholders in the capitalistic enterprise. Only then can the organization create a Culture of Employee Well Being, enabling employees to get the help they need in the way that they feel most comfortable, based on each employee’s specific needs (i.e. financial well-being, physical well-being, psychological well-being, professional well-being, stress reduction, training and developing, re-skilling and up-skilling), that provides the assistance necessary for each employee to become a Sustainable Employee — a High Performer, committed to the organization and its mission for the long term. This means creating and maintaining a work environment that.

When the organization has made this commitment to create a Sustainable Workforce, based on answering the question “How can we take the best physical and mental care of our employees?”, it reaps the benefits of increased employee engagement, higher retention, increased productivity and profits, which, ultimately, benefits all other stakeholders of the organization.

2. Replacing Theory X Managers with Empathetic Leaders: These statistics illustrate that workplace stress is having the greatest negative impact on employee well-being and reduces employee engagement and retention:

  • 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress.
  • 50% of workers are not engaged at work because of stress.
  • 63% of workers are ready to quit their jobs as a result of workplace stress.

Because of the negative impact post-pandemic work place stress is having on employee engagement, most leaders acknowledge that empathy — the capacity to be sensitive, sympathetic, and responsive to what employees are feeling — has become a necessary leadership trait. However, while company leaders say they value empathy, only 68% believe their company’s managers are empathetic. This belief by leaders that a significant number of their managers lack the empathy needed to create an organizational culture promoting employee well-being is supported by their own employees who, when surveyed, reveal:

  • Only 48% believe their organization’s level of empathy sufficient.
  • 35% identify their immediate manager as their main source of workplace stress.
  • 50% said their managers don’t acknowledge stress or burnout.
  • Only 44% encourage talking about work frustrations.
  • Only 40% of employees who suffer from stress have talked to their manager about it.
  • When they ask for help with workplace stress, only 40% are offered help by their managers.
  • Only 37% think their managers care about their work-life balance.

This dismal lack of empathy and commitment to creating a culture that understands the importance of employee wellbeing to the success of the organization confirms that many organizations continue to employ Theory X managers. Theory X managers believe employees are lazy, dislike work, need constant direction or supervision, and have to be forced or threatened before they will work. Because 70% of employee engagement is determined by the relationship between the employee and their manager, the Theory X manager, because of the Pygmalion effect, actually reduces employee engagement and productivity and increases workplace stress.

The proof about the negative impact Theory X managers have on employee wellbeing, engagement, performance and retention, supports the realization that, to create a culture of employee well-being requires the immediate replacement of Theory X managers with Empathetic Team Leaders.

Empathetic Team Leaders show concern for the well-being of their employees and encourage them to discuss why they are experiencing high levels of work stress. Once those reasons are revealed and understood, Empathetic Leaders ensures the employees gets the organizational support necessary to alleviate as much of their stress as possible. This interaction by Empathetic Team Leaders creates a positive employee-employer relationship to replace the transactional one that existed between the employee and the Theory X manager. Over time, this positive relationship, based on an ongoing commitment to the employees’ well-being, generates 21% greater profitability because of the increased level of employee engagement.

3. The Creation of Customized Radical Work Flexibility for All Employees: The pandemic forced employers to recognize that 40% of their workforce, employed as Knowledge Workers, could work effectively and productivity without being in the workplace. It also revealed how important work flexibility is, not just to Knowledge Employees, but to all employees and how it positively impacts performance, retention and employee well-being.

Because of this, radical work flexibility is not only an essential element of employee well-being but also a business imperative required, to not only increase employee engagement and retention, but to attract talent to the organization. Employers, while maintaining the ability to get work done, need to offer customized radical flexibility to its employees, whether they be salaried or hourly paid, or white collar, blue collar or grey collar.

Customized radical flexibility recognizes work is an integrated part of an employee’s life. Rather than trying to separate work from how an employee wants or needs to live their life, both the employer and the employee accept that work-life balance can creatively be structured so the employee’s work obligation and non-work obligations can both me met.

Some examples of customized radical flexibility programs are total remote work, part-time remote work (working at home and on-site), alternative shifts or schedules (weekends or evenings), split-shifts, compressed workweeks (four ten-hour days), fluctuating workweeks (fifty hours one week and thirty-five the next week), part-time work and job-sharing.

Where this type of work scheduling was difficult to manage, technology now exists that allows employees to self-schedule, meeting both the needs of the company to have qualified employees doing the required work, and the needs of employees to be able to live a more fulfilled life.

Examples of companies committed to creating more employee work flexibility are Amazon, which allows its warehouse and delivery personnel to cancel a shift within 16 hours before it begins or to swap shifts with other employees at the last minute; Starbucks is testing a “shifts app”, that makes it easier for employees to work available shifts to meet their personal needs; and the consulting firm Robert Half, which allows its staff to set their own hours.

4. The Creation of Employees’ Financial Well-Being Programs: The results of the “Death of the Traditional Pay Check” survey, conducted by The Harris Poll, reveal the necessity for companies to develop programs that support an employee’s financial well-being:

  • Financial well-being starts with an employer paying all its employees a livable and fair wage that allows an acceptable standard of living, reflecting the true costs of living in the employee’s community.
  • 78% of U.S. employees are living paycheck to paycheck. Fifty-eight percent of these employees are stressed about their finances and 50% say finances are a major stressor in their lives, that creates a distraction at work and has a significant impact on their workplace performance.
  • 74% of employees would prefer to work for an employer offering financial planning, budgeting and automated savings tools over one that doesn’t.
  • Only 6% of employees are currently paid on-demand, but 66% of employees want early access to earned wages to cover bills and emergency expenses, such as a car repair.
  • 57% of employees would work harder and stay longer at a company that offers on-demand pay.
  • 80% of US employees spend anywhere from 12 to 20 hours per month thinking about financial worries.

Based on this expressed need of a majority of employees, employers need to create, as an important part of supporting their employees’ holistic well-being, a financial wellness program that addresses and reduces an employee’s financial worries.

This financial wellness program should include on-demand pay, financial education (i.e. teaching employees how to manage their money, how to build and repair their credit, setting financial goals and creating realistic spending behaviors) to help employees develop a realistic relationship with their money, and financial counseling about debt consultation, student loan counseling, bankruptcy counseling and other financial situations employees are faced with.

The benefit to the employer from having a well-rounded financial well-being program, as part of the overall employee well-being plan, is that the more positive the impact the employer can have on their employees’ financial well-being, the more employees feel supported by their employer, which increases engagement and retention and attracts talent to the organization.

5. Increased Self-Care for Leaders: Research establishes sleep, diet, exercise and breaks promote health and well-being and can increase a leader’s overall productivity, effectiveness and empathy while reducing stress. Self-care is integral to how leaders lead because it helps them function at their best. Yet leaders view overwork as a badge of honor and ignore self-care for fear they will be seen as weak or vulnerable. This attitude has to stop if the organization is truly serious about creating a culture of well-being.

Organizational culture takes its cues from the organization’s leadership. If the organization is promoting self-care and well-being, but if the leadership isn’t role modeling behaviors that support self-care and well-being then the organization will only give lip service to these concepts.

Leaders, by role modeling self-care and setting healthy examples (i.e. discouraging long hours), give others permission to take care of themselves also. When leaders want to become the best version of themself — and inspire others to do the same — need to begin, through both words and actions, to engage in their own self-care and their team and the entire organization will follow their lead.

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

There is much conversation about the opportunity the pandemic has given employers to create a new “normal”, based a new set of progressive ideas that would recognize the fact the current relationship between those who own and manage the organization and those who create and deliver the organization’s service and products is frayed and outdated and, for the sake of the future growth and wellbeing of the organization and its stakeholders, need to be revitalized by recognizing these relationships must be reciprocal if they are to be meaningful and productive.

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?

The best ways to get in touch with me, and stay current on what topics I am exploring, commenting on and sharing, are through my website, my email [email protected] and on LinkedIn at

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

Thank you, Karen, for this opportunity to share my insights and opinions with you and your audience