By Deirdre Millrood, SVP, Client Partner
It’s hard to capture how much has changed between early 2020 and now, specifically across the “office” landscape. While the last few years have witnessed many ups and downs, one aspect that has improved for the better is the collective attention being placed on physical and mental wellbeing.
More employers are embracing the idea that wellbeing in the workplace is not just a nice to have or a simple expenditure to check the box, but rather are establishing comprehensive policies and holistic practices that are proving to reduce stress and burnout, increase productivity, promote work-life harmony, and support better mental health overall.
As a health coach who also works in the corporate world, I’ve struggled at times to meet the demands of a fast-paced PR job while also maintaining balance in my personal life. However, having a work environment that acknowledges, supports, and promotes sustainable wellbeing is an integral first step. Hopefully you’ve noticed these practices already coming into play in your own workplace, but here are a few priorities that will continue to trend and increase in prominence as we move forward in 2023.
Flexible work environments: From Work Where You Work Best type policies to remote-only, many companies have reimagined the standard 9-5 in terms of both space and time. While flexibility will certainly prevail into the future, what that means for how we support our colleagues, engage, and connect in some cases, without a physical office, will continue to evolve. Savvy companies will work to build important connections that not only foster productive and successful teams and a sense of inclusion and belonging, but provide space for emotional stimulation and togetherness, particularly in a hybrid work environment.
Mental wellbeing remains a top priority: 89% of professionals said they’ve experienced burnout in the last two years and 50% of employees said their wellbeing actually declined in 2022 . While addressing burnout requires a multifaceted approach, one accessible effective tool is incorporating mindfulness practices in the workplace. While mindfulness itself is not new, it is increasing in popularity, especially among millennials who make up a considerable part of the workforce. For example, at Evoke Kyne, we provide employees a free subscription to Calm, an app to support mental fitness, relaxation and sleep. Utilizing sensory experiences to tune into how we feel and take a moment to recharge and relax will continue to gain popularity. From breathwork to mid-day breaks, more flex time, shortened work weeks and meeting free blocks or days, the role of mindfulness will be a trend to watch in 2023.
Increased access to mental health resources: We know that wellness is not just about your healthcare coverage, but now more than ever we are witnessing an expansion of the role your employer can play in terms of your mental health in the workplace. Organizational leaders can play a critical role by communicating that mental health is a priority, acknowledging challenges facing employee wellbeing and offering both support and resources. We’ll continue to see an investment in training and programs across all levels on how to foster healthy teams or reduce burnout and we can anticipate a greater focus on work-life harmony, stress reduction and an increase in wellbeing programs overall.
So how can you make these trends a reality in your day-to-day life? My best advice is to start small and with yourself. Take accountability and ownership of your own wellbeing practices—consider a morning routine, block time on your calendar for breaks or talk to your manager or colleagues about their openness to a walking 1:1 meeting (less screen time, please!). For me, movement is medicine and I’ll take that however I can squeeze it in!
Boundaries are also incredibly important, both in our personal and professional lives. But our colleagues and coworkers are not mind readers—verbalize your needs and proactively communicate your expectations. What does Out of Office mean to you? Do you have a hobby or workout class that requires you to logoff early one day a week? What is your wellbeing ‘non-negotiable’? Maybe you decide not to send emails to your team before 8am (you can still write and save in drafts) or not send that note at 8pm at night (unless it’s urgent but read: define what is considered urgent in collaboration with your team).
Start a dialogue and share your own practices, however small—you just might inspire someone else.
I’ll go first—here are two of my daily wellbeing non-negotiables:
Move my body (all movement counts—a quick yoga flow, walking around the block, taking my daughter to daycare, attending a live workout class).
Use my Five-Minute Journal (they also have an app) and the quick prompts help me prepare for the day. Starting the morning with gratitude sets the tone for everything to come.
As leaders, our words matter, but so do our actions. I do my best to lead by example (sometimes fall short, ahem 7am email), but we need to hold each other accountable while also giving each other grace. My challenge to you is to ask your coworkers how they are prioritizing wellbeing in their own lives and help normalize and support that conversation. The more we integrate and infuse who we are as individuals into our work, the happier and healthier our workplaces will become.
1. 2021 Korn Ferry survey. 2. 2022 Gympass survey.