In 2020 a series of crises converged, and together they spurred a major acceleration in a longer-term underlying business trend—the rise of workplace wellness as a critical factor in fostering a more fulfilled and productive workforce.
Suddenly, employers had to grapple with workplace health and safety in the COVID-19 pandemic, plus economic turmoil, furloughs and layoffs, a jarring overnight transition to a remote workforce, and social-justice protests.
Little wonder that employee well-being became a front-burner priority. “A healthy workforce is generally a happy workforce,” says Ragan Communications CEO Diane Schwartz, who was interviewed recently for the popular Remote Work Life podcast.
In the interview, Schwartz and host Alex Wilson-Campbell discussed the rise of workplace wellness and how it intersects with the more traditional organizational functions of HR and communications. “We’d been seeing that HR and communications have needed to work together,” Schwartz says in the interview. “Wellness managers and HR directors need help figuring out how the workforce can be more happy at work, more healthy at work, and safe at work.”
Now, the definition of workplace wellness ranges from all these things into still more new areas, including benefits, social justice, mental and financial health, and even new thinking about the physical configuration of the workplace. “People are hankering to collaborate in person,” Schwartz says. “The physical workspace will change, and that’s another positive change—it will be a place of collaboration, not one where people are hunkered down in their cubicles.”
In the end, she says, organizational leaders have to foster trust. “In this era of disinformation it’s hard to know who to trust, but workers have to trust their employer. And that’s why wellness is so critical,” Schwartz adds.