Multigenerational boundary setting. I saw a video that showed how different generations handled time off from work. It showed one generation as being available 24/7. It showed another as being unavailable briefly, but available during certain times, and one generation stated they weren’t available at all. In other words, y’all figure it out!

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 Stephanie Strouth, LPC.

Stephanie Strouth, LPC is a therapist at and owner of Anchoring Hope Counseling located in Wise and Abingdon, VA. She works with a stellar team of clinicians with various specialties who can provide counseling across the state of Virginia. Anchoring Hope’s mission is for our clinicians to be their authentic selves, so they can teach clients how to, unapologetically, be themselves.

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.

2020 was a time of loss for so many, myself included, but it was also a collective pause across the world. All of us trapped in the rat race were pulled out of the game, unwillingly might I add, for a moment long enough to ask, “What the heck am I doing?!”. Those moments of playing Uno, working puzzles, or exploring nature with my family were reminders of what true connection is and a moment to realize how much we’ve taken connection for granted. We’ve had an expectation that family would always be there, which causes us to miss out on what truly matters. That time period of being forced to slow down caused a shift in me that I hope is permanent.

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?

Anchoring Hope defines wellness as having a sense of peace, even in the midst of chaos. We don’t necessarily have a quantitative method of measuring wellness at our agency. If I were to use an analogy, wellness is like rain to a tree. Increased wellness nourishes the trees beginning at the roots where authenticity, self-confidence, and peace are located. With increased nourishment, we begin to see the fruit from that tree. With authenticity, an organization will see their employees being themselves, contributing in helpful ways and being appreciated for those efforts. With self-confidence, an organization will see an employee who isn’t afraid to set boundaries between work and home. With peace, an organization will see a calmness, even in times of stress. With that being said, we measure wellness by the fruit that is being produced.

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?

Outcomes measures vary by organization; however, I imagine you can see the effects of a well workforce through several measures within a company such as turnover rates, customer satisfaction, higher efficiency, or increased revenue. If you take a company before and after developing a culture that embraces wellness, these measures would help you identify whether your efforts have been meaningful to the company. I do want to add that, in my opinion, a company should not pour into its workforce for the sheer possibility of increased productivity and profitability. I think a company should pour into its workforce because it recognizes that the effort of their workforce makes the company who it is and that organization appreciates their efforts and wants to support them. It feels good to give back, and when organizations give back to their workforce, they will pass that on to the customers; pay it forward.

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?

I fear we live in a world that is reactive instead of proactive, especially when it comes to mental health. It is hard for some people to put their mental health first. They’re used to grinding harder, staying busy, and getting the job done until they’re in an emergency room because stress decreased their immune system’s effectiveness and caused an illness or because they’re having panic attacks they thought were heart attacks. That pattern is the greater cost to a business, and more importantly, to the individual. As a leader, you have an opportunity to model wellness for your workforce. You have a chance to change their lives and everyone they come in contact with. You have that power. Why on earth would you not take that opportunity?

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?

In our job postings, we give people information we feel is important for them to know. Here is a line from our last job posting, “We have a strong focus on avoiding therapist burn out. We will not give you more clients than you feel you can manage.” Unfortunately, the mental health field is a high burn out field because organizations push more profits, lower pay, and mountains of paperwork. We don’t want that for our therapists, so we’re straight up about it. Also, when we call to schedule an interview, we let potential candidates know about the job in more detail to decide if it’s worth their time to pursue. It’s crazy to me that employers treat potential employees like their time isn’t important or that it’s the potential employee’s job to impress the employer. Employees are integral to the function of an organization, so we answer their questions honestly and ask them if they feel it’s worth their time to move forward with an interview. If they move forward with the interview, we make it as relaxed as possible. Do some deep breathing exercises together if needed and make it a conversation. I like to promote authenticity early on. I hope to develop this process further as we grow to carry the momentum forward.

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: We have a biweekly lunch where we treat the team to a meal, make announcements keeping them in the loop, and discuss ways to improve the company. I want a culture where people are aware of what is going on and give them opportunities to explore ways to make things better. I will have to ask my team how they feel about this method, but I know from experience, I would have appreciated these gestures at previous companies that I left because of a lack of those opportunities.
  • Emotional Wellness: I think developing camaraderie amongst the workforce helps with emotional wellness. There will be days where we hear really tough stories. There will be days we struggle at home and are coming into work. Whether that emotional weight is coming from the inside or outside, having a team around you that is supportive and encouraging can make all the difference.
  • Social Wellness: We just went to a gala together and have our annual Christmas party coming up, which is celebrated at a restaurant with food that will make you cry tears of joy. We’re hitting a concert in April! As a small company, it is easy to do these things together. As an organization grows, these opportunities could be endless!
  • Physical Wellness: We are working on joining a local yoga studio as soon as they get their studio ready. I imagine this will help therapists be more connected to themselves and their clients. It will help them practice what we preach. There are obvious other ideas like having an exercise room or partnering with a local gym to provide discounted memberships for employees.
  • Financial Wellness: We offer generous wages that encourage employees to contribute to the growth of the organization, but we also encourage therapists not taking on more than they feel they can handle. Sure, a therapist could see 40 clients a week and make bank, but at what cost? I hope to promote that sure, finances are important, but there are other things that are more important.

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?

In addition to the ideas we have and are implementing above, we are part of a group that provides counseling to a national company for their employees. This is in addition to their insurance benefits they receive through the company. That company has seen an increase in productivity, morale amongst employees, and increased sales. Using the methods we have used, companies would also experience a cohesiveness that is shown through caring. One morning, I was working from home and one of our therapists messaged stating a toilet was clogged and she had unclogged it and cleaned the toilet. That right there shows someone who cares, and I would like to think that it is born from mutual respect and the efforts we have put in to our awesome team to let them know we care. Also, if you would like to feel out some ideas for your organization, I’d be happy to consult with you on those ideas.

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

We have not had to reskill at this point; however, leadership opportunities in the future will definitely use appreciation for the workforce as a metric for those advancement opportunities. Leaders who understand the importance of wellness will be a necessity for those positions.

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?

There are a couple of steps that come to mind. A company, especially larger ones, can reach out to agencies like mine to see about offering counseling for their employees or consult on a plan. Many insurance policies companies offer have dismal mental health coverage knocking numerous people out of that service. Another idea is to begin having round table discussions on suggestions to improve each department. After those discussions though, the workforce needs to be aware as to why their suggestions may or may not be feasible or else no one feels heard and no one understands the why behind why their idea wasn’t chosen. Another step could be giving employees an opportunity to share where they are. I was part of an organization that had a morning meeting where the staff got to say how they were feeling emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It was a great routine that provided team building and helped staff members know where someone stood in their headspace that day.

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

  1. Focus on the significance of mental health. As the stigma against mental health services fades, we will see an uptick in the demand of those services. We already are seeing this increase in our area, and I expect it to only increase from here. I expect more companies will be providing beefed up mental health services for their workforce. I would be happy to orchestrate that for companies as mentioned previously in the article.
  2. Working from home. Obviously, we saw an increase in working from home during covid, but many companies are recognizing the benefits of offering that option to their workforce, and the workforce is seeing the benefits in their wellness too! There are pros and cons to working from home, but there are just too many positives to ignore for many people, especially those positives that improve general wellness.
  3. Shifting priorities. I believe with the amount of loss people experienced throughout covid, as well as the time people got to spend with themselves, close friends, and family, people are realigning their priorities. In the workplace, this will translate into people choosing opportunities that are focused on areas beyond simply the pay, and they may begin choosing jobs that promote mental, emotional, social, and physical wellness over financial wellness.
  4. Multigenerational boundary setting. I saw a video that showed how different generations handled time off from work. It showed one generation as being available 24/7. It showed another as being unavailable briefly, but available during certain times, and one generation stated they weren’t available at all. In other words, y’all figure it out! I think this last attitude is going to become more prevalent and is actually something I encourage at our office. I want our staff to feel comfortable telling me no and encourage them to communicate their needs freely, where those needs will be respected. An example would be having clinicians tell me when their caseload is full or what hours I can contact them during.
  5. Increased job satisfaction and employee retention. If your company can pivot and grow with this new frontier, then you will be in the best position when it comes to your workforce. You will see boosted morale, decreased leave related to mental health/stress related illness, and a reduction in costs related to hiring/training new staff due to turnover. I recently calculated, for funsies, what I could make financially if I were to grow my business to a specific degree. What I found was that I wouldn’t make that much more (or maybe that it doesn’t really matter how much I make). After some reflection, I decided to move forward with the idea of growth because of all the therapists I could hire and pour into giving them a space to feel heard and appreciated in an environment that, instead of feeding burn out, snubbed it out instead. Then, imagining how many people those therapists would be able to help when they themselves are in a good headspace. I want the therapists and clients who walk in our buildings to feel a sense of peace in the chaos. With the right focus, this can be achievable for any business.

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

My greatest source of optimism is the increasing number of people setting boundaries between work and life. Companies will not shift their focus if they don’t think it’s important to their people. It’s time to shout needs from the rooftops until someone listens, and here we are, slowly, but surely, getting there!

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?

Readers can follow Stephanie Strouth & Anchoring Hope Counseling at, on Facebook at, or on Insta at If you are interested in setting your company up with counseling services for your employees, we’d be more than happy to discuss that possibility. We are available across the state of Virginia and have partners that can provide this service in other states. If you find yourself in agreement on these ideas and would like personalized coaching around wellness for your business, reach Stephanie at 276–298–5034 or at [email protected].

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