As more American workers begin the transition back to their workplaces with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, new research focusing on the wellbeing levels of Michigan workers over this period could provide important insights on managing this change.

The Wellbeing Lab 2021 Community Report, surveyed a randomly selected sample representative of Michigan’s adult population by gender, age, and location of 778 workers at the end of March 2021, with wellbeing in the workplace forming a key focus of the report.

The good news was that whether workers were back full time in the workplace or transition still between work and home, more than half reported that they were thriving.  However, workers who have been on the frontline and remained in their workplaces throughout the challenges of COVID-19 were significantly more likely to be struggling.

The data revealed key factors that were successful in supporting higher levels of wellbeing for workers that could be used to help manage the ongoing workplace disruptions being created by COVID.  For example, workers who were thriving were significantly more likely to have leaders who had often – not just sometimes or rarely – expressed care, compassion, and appreciation toward their workers.  Not only did these simple and affordable actions improve worker wellbeing and performance, but it had an even more significant impact for the wellbeing and performance of the leaders themselves.

Other factors that the data found had a positive impact on worker wellbeing included:

  • Being an effective ally – People who were thriving were more likely to report that they could recognize situations when they should step up to be an ally and less likely to report that they felt like a fraud when it came to being an ally to marginalized groups at work.  While there was a gap between those who reported they intended to be an ally (57%), and those who felt they were effective as an ally (39%), this gap could be bridged through training and skills.
  • Seeing new possibilities – People who were thriving were more likely to report that they had leaders who encouraged them to consider new possibilities in situations. This not only impacted their immediate wellbeing but their confidence about their wellbeing levels in the future.
  • Wellbeing skills and support – People who were thriving reported higher levels of wellbeing ability (the knowledge, tools and opportunities to care for their wellbeing), wellbeing motivation (their commitment to care for wellbeing) and psychological safety (having people they can talk about their wellbeing highs and lows with without judgement).

To see how you can support the wellbeing of workers in your organization download the full free report here.