Curating the week in wellness Dec. 6–10, 2021: Envisioning the 2022 workplace, keeping holiday spirits bright, and more

The week’s essential content for those dedicated to employee well-being.

By Ragan Staff      
Preparing for the workplace of 2022—and beyond

Hello, wellness pros!

We hope you find this collection of thought-provoking articles, tips and takeaways edifying and empowering.

Please get in touch with any ideas, suggestions or feedback on how we can serve you better or cover topics that are top-of-mind at your organization. Email: kaceyl@ragan.com.

1. Preparing for the workplace of 2022 — and beyond.

In its Work Smarter column, Wired examines the trends industry leaders think will shape work in 2022. Among the predictions for what the future holds for U.S. workplaces are that hybrid work will become a central model, though it comes with the need for managers to address proximity bias and everyone to become better at video calls.

A reoccurring topic among the predictions is the reimagining of traditional working models, whether that be about where employees work or when. While creating such policies requires effort and buy-in from employers, employees want to find a balance between personal and work lives — and may switch jobs to achieve it.   

’Tis the season for predictions, and LinkedIn offers 29 big ideas from its Influencers and creators that will shape the coming year. One such big idea: the four-day work week. “Companies that offer 50 extra days of freedom a year will have an easier time attracting and retaining talented people,” says Adam Grant, author, organizational psychologist at Wharton and host of the TED podcast WorkLife. “If you’ve decided that there’s more to life than work, it’s hard to imagine a more enticing and exciting proposition.”

2. Rethinking holiday health.

Benefits Pro recognizes the stress that often manifests around the holidays, both personally and professionally. The current state of the pandemic and economy may be throwing further fuel onto that stress fire. With the likelihood some employees feel decreased mental/physical health and/or financial fears, it could be easy to “take the edge off” with alcohol or other substances. Help employees manage the holiday season with tips for healthier stress management.

3. An update on vaccine mandate legislation.

It has been a busy week for vaccine mandates. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the “Key to NYC” mandate that will require all of the city’s private-sector workers be fully vaccinated. The Senate voted to overturn the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard, requiring companies with more than 100 employers be vaccinated or tested. While the Senate vote is viewed as largely symbolic, the court case around the standard is moving forward in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

HR Dive shares the latest on the timeline and court happenings, including the anticipation the case could land at the Supreme Court.

4. A roundup of reports on sustainability updates, DE&I progress and ESG initiatives.

For a bit of inspiration on demonstrating your company’s sustainability activities or philanthropic ventures, have a look at these recent reports:

5. Five ways to halt employee turnover.

Gallup reports that 52% of “exiting” employees say that their manager or company could have done something to make them stay. To prevent these unfortunate departures, Gallup notes:

  • Connected managers catch intent to leave long before it occurs.
  • Empathetic managers listen to problems, receive employee feedback and help prioritize the workload.
  • Empowered managers find creative solutions, personalize flexibility and advocate for their people.
  • Inspiring managers offer regular employee recognition, encouragement and mission moments.
  • Coaching managers help struggling employees find their future within your organization.

6. Are employees starting to miss the office?

Coffee, food and snacks at the office are sounding tempting to 42% of employees, EBN reports, as does comfortable furniture (35%) and access to outdoor workspaces (33%). This data from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) indicates that employees are looking for a break from working from home and a return to those bygone perks.

“These findings are helping us figure out how to meet the future of work by optimizing the new hybrid workplace, while also balancing employee wellness and productivity,” Mary-Claire Burick, president of the Rosslyn BID. “Community leaders around the country are working toward new solutions as the future of work continues to evolve.”

7. Turning the tide against diabetes and HBP.

According to Benefits Pro, diabetes is the “most expensive chronic diseases in the U.S.” And it takes a heavy toll on productivity, too.

The pandemic is literally making our blood pressure rise. Both serve as important reminders to be mindful of chronic health conditions, even during a pandemic.

8. Five urgent remote work fixes.

Even at nearly two years of pandemic life, ZDNET says it straight: “One thing that’s clear as we head towards 2022 is that nobody has all this figured out yet.” With flexible and hybrid work seemingly here to stay, five ongoing challenges remain to be navigated:  

1. Good work is good work, but does it standout as much outside of an office environment? Employees have reported finding career progression difficult over the past two years, and this recognition failure may be a cause.

2. Employers need to clearly define what “hybrid” means to them and the expectations of employees within such a model. Same goes for “flexible,” plus having clearly defined working policies that allow managers and employees to be on the same page.

3. Finding a balance between keeping tabs and allowing autonomy in a remote environment is an ongoing challenge, but software tools that track productivity or activity are not the answer.

4. Employee salaries reflect many factors, but does the shift to remote work change those? That’s a question to grapple with when considering post-pandemic workplace policies.

5. If remote work is going to be sustainable long term, then better boundaries need to be drawn between work and life — and this can’t just fall on employees to manage.