Cesar Carvalho, CEO & Co-Founder

When I started at McKinsey back in 2008, it was difficult for me to prioritize wellbeing in a meaningful way. I was constantly traveling between cities and there wasn’t a clear-cut way to focus on my physical and mental health with any consistency. This wasn’t just my problem — it was an issue for thousands of people like me who were working incredibly hard and struggling to foster a healthy work-life balance. 

Today, as CEO of the world’s largest employee wellbeing platform, my mission is to help organizations prioritize employee wellbeing no matter where they are, through a robust set of benefits centered on fitness, nutrition and mental health. In the 10+ years since we launched, we’ve worked closely with thousands of amazing companies and I’ve studied how wellbeing has evolved as a priority for these organizations and their employees.

The biggest change, in my view, is that the aforementioned concept of work-life balance is dead. It’s a 50-year-old term that has been rendered completely outdated, because it assumes that work and life are separate things. Today, we know that’s not true. We can’t ignore the impact of work, and its expansion outside the walls of physical office space, on our personal lives.

As we turn the calendar page, here are four predictions for wellbeing at work in 2023:  

1. Employee wellbeing will become a leading indicator of productivity.

It’s quite simple: Engaged workers generate more profit. A recent Gallup report found that business units with engaged employees have a 23% higher profit compared to those with unhappy (miserable) workers. The report also found that absenteeism is 27% lower for employees who exercised regularly, compared to colleagues who didn’t. Additionally, employees with healthy eating habits were 25% more likely to have higher job performance; and employees who exercised three times a week were 15% more likely to have better job performance.

All of this maps back to wellbeing as a leading indicator of productivity at large. The health of your team is directly correlated to the health of your business. In the same way that leaders look at metrics like revenue to determine how well a company is doing, a company’s engagement with wellbeing benefits will become one of those factors. As more leaders begin to recognize this, we’ll start to see business decisions being influenced by wellbeing at large.

2. ESG will gain a W as wellbeing becomes more important to investors, shareholders and customers.

Historically, we’ve seen this in relation to corporate social responsibility and more recently ESG. Your mission and values can positively, or negatively, impact revenue. In 2023, there’s a clear argument to be made that wellbeing should be elevated alongside environmental, social and governance issues when deciding if and how to do business with an organization. Companies that focus on “ESWG” are those that take a proactive approach to developing employee resilience and mental strength, in addition to their ESG priorities. 

This year, employee wellbeing will begin to be perceived similarly, because we are in a crisis of wellbeing. People are burnt out. They’re tired and disengaged, and it’s reflected in their work. For context, 60% of employees are detached, and 19% are miserable. The responsibility falls on employers to meet this challenge head-on and protect their people. In today’s landscape, if you aren’t prioritizing your employees’ wellbeing, the world will notice. This means that stakeholders ranging from investors, to partners, to customers will take into account how you treat your people before doing business with you. No one wants to support a company that is grinding its employees down to burnout. 

3. More employees will perceive wellbeing benefits as equally important to salary.

In Gympass’ recent State of Work-Life Wellness Report, we surveyed 9,000 employees from around the world and found that a whopping 83% already believe their wellbeing is equally important to their salary. It’s a powerfully compelling statistic that underscores exactly where talent’s heads are at in terms of finding work. The vast majority of people around the world are not willing to put their physical or mental wellbeing at risk for a paycheck — and that number is going to grow. It means that HR leaders need to work harder to ensure talent that they have their best interests in mind. 

4. Pay transparency will lead to benefit transparency, putting more pressure on employers to do better.

In 2023, employee centricity is paramount, and job-seekers continue to enjoy leverage over employers despite layoffs. As pay transparency proliferates specifically around the U.S., we’ll see a shift in expectations from job hunters who will begin to demand benefit transparency. Employers will need to demonstrate a clear commitment to the wellbeing of their people — not just to attract and retain top talent, but to maximize outcomes from their existing (and potentially smaller) teams. This could take the form of something tangible, like a wellness score, that arises in the future as organizations are scored based on their benefits and wellbeing offerings. 

 

While we enter 2023 in an uncertain economic climate, the fact remains that wellbeing is a clear priority for talent, making it a permanent, recession-proof part of acquisition and retention strategies.

I’d take this a step further and argue that an impending recession is exactly the right time to invest in employee wellbeing benefits. Reason being that losing talented employees only adds to a company’s economic challenges when facing a downturn: After layoffs, remaining staff experience a 41% decline in job satisfaction. Companies that double down on supporting their people — investing in their teams with the same level of commitment that they invest in software — will be better positioned to weather any impending storm.