Creating Holistic Employee Wellbeing

Employees care about you when you care about their wellbeing

How Do You Create Loyalty With

Following almost impossible challenges, including a global health pandemic, fiercely polarized political views, and ground-shifting social impacts, employees are craving safe spaces and feeling disengaged from workplaces that don’t offer meaningful support. The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, domino-effect layoffs, and calls for more support in the employment environment from marginalized and often misunderstood groups, like women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and GenZs and Millennials, shows that the foundation for the employment relationship is crumbling.

In the face of these numerous challenges, creating engagement and loyalty with employees is the single-most important endeavor for employers and often the most difficult to achieve. This struggle isn’t exactly new. Employers have been trying to effectively engage employees for decades, primarily through limited programs in the workplace, offering physical or financial support, such as employer-sponsored health and welfare insurance benefits, pensions, and retirement savings plans. These programs are important but miss several critical aspects of holistic individual and workplace wellbeing, including social, emotional, and spiritual health. Moreover, many of these programs ignore the unique needs of women and the LGBTQ+ community, the recognition of which are critical to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce.

In a recent survey, an astounding 59% of individuals reported struggling with at least one mental health challenge. When digging in further to the impact of these mental health struggles on satisfaction and engagement in the workplace, surveys find that the employees who are experiencing at least one mental-health challenge are also:

  • 4x more likely to say they intend to leave their job.
  • 3x more likely to report low job satisfaction.
  • 3x more likely to report experiencing toxic workplace behavior.
  • 2x more likely to report low engagement at work.[1]

When studies look into mental-health challenges for women and the LGBTQ+ community more specifically, statistics show that 62% of women surveyed report daily mental health impact from stress in the workplace[2] and 52% of LGBTQ+ individuals surveyed report workplace stressors causing a negative impact to their psychological wellbeing.[3] The results are higher rates of attrition for these groups and the onset of related significant mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, deliberate self harm, and substance abuse.  

Employees want to feel whole and well. They are looking for purpose in their work and innovative, uniquely-crafted holistic wellbeing support from their employers.  By stepping up to this challenge, employers can create radical loyalty, promote impactful creativity, and engage the hearts and minds of their employees.

Employees Disengage If They Think You Don’t Care

Employees crave genuine, authentic support that enhances their lives in a holistic way. For employers, this can feel uncomfortable, like overreaching into the personal lives of their employees. But employee surveys prove that employees no longer divide themselves into their professional space and their personal lives. 

Showing genuine care and support cannot be confined to the traditional workplace – especially given the ways in which our workplace and the ways we live our lives have so radically changed. Truly effective employee support programs have moved into dimensions of holistic wellbeing that have not been a traditional focus, such as social and spiritual health. A study looking into the impact of social inclusion and spiritual health show that when individuals are:

  • living alone, the risk of mortality increases 32%, 
  • socially isolated, the risk of mortality increases 29%, and 
  • contending with loneliness, the risk of mortality increases 26%. 

On the positive side, studies show that when individuals are spiritually healthy, living and working with a higher sense of purpose:

  • the risk of mortality reduces by 46%,
  • the impact of depression reduces by 43%, and
  • the likelihood of having harmful sleep problems reduces by 13%.[4]

When focusing on social and spiritual health with regard to women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other marginalized groups, we know that individuals in marginalized groups are twice as likely to live alone and have less interaction and contact with family and friend support structures. They are also significantly less likely to engage with community resources and benefits that promote holistic health. The impacts are significant and permeate all aspects of these marginalized individuals lives, including how they are able to engage with their work.

Supporting What Matters Most

It is nuanced work to craft effective employee support cultures and programs that show genuine, holistic care for the individual. But employers can achieve exceptional results by tossing out the “one size fits most” approach and partnering with wellbeing experts to create bespoke, innovative, multi-faceted wellbeing programs that impact 8 dimensions of holistic health: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, financial, occupational, and environmental. While there is work to do to innovate on several dimensions many employer programs and policies currently address, the most overlooked or often ignored dimensions are in the areas of social, emotional, and spiritual health.

In her executive role as in-house employment counsel and dedicated People support in organizations including J.C.Penney, FedEx, and Match Group, Michelle Pelton has had the unique opportunity to gain a deep understanding of what truly motivates and supports the individual employee and collectively the workplace culture. Tracey Breeden has had the same opportunity in her executive roles leading the creation of safety platforms and programs in tech companies, including Uber and Match Group. Across these organizations, we’ve created employee support programs to recognize the often overlooked dimensions of holistic health and support women and historically marginalized communities need, such as:

  • Developing abortion and reproductive healthcare support for individuals impacted by federal precedent following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs and related state laws;
  • Standing up a holistic employee support program for employees experiencing traumatic events, including sexual and domestic violence, natural disaster impact, personal financial hardship, and other trauma;
  • Creating support program and related education to provide gender-affirming care for employees and their families;
  • Engaging third-party programs, including mental health therapy and personal coaching apps, that offer employees social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual opportunities for growth and development;
  • Upgrading employment policies to support the birth or adoption of a child beyond basic federal law requirements, and being visibly and vocally inclusive regarding the opportunity for all parents, whether the mother, father, or adopted parents, including the LGBTQ+ community;
  • Crafting compassionate care and leave policies to support the significant emotional and psychological impact from the experience of child or pregnancy loss;
  • Developing leadership and employee guides and materials to support transgender employees through all stages of gender identity exploration and transition process;
  • Establishing engagement resources and training that support honest and effective feedback and coaching conversations between managers and employees; and
  • Engaging innovative support resources for employees in specific organizational roles, such as customer care and response, that expose these employees to unique types of impact and trauma by the very nature of their roles supporting the employer’s mission.


Each set of solutions for an employer’s workforce is as unique as the organization itself. An effective, holistic wellbeing program can be achieved with our expert support, as seen by the impact we’ve had in the organizations we’ve worked with in our careers.

Engage and Retain Employees with Holistic Wellbeing

Approaching employee wellbeing holistically with a genuine sense of care and compassion for the most marginalized groups in our workforce is simply the right thing to do. Moreover, employees who feel safe and supported by their employer and find meaning and purpose in their work are more likely to stay with their organization, are more creative, and are ultimately more productive. In fact, 70% of employees stated that wellbeing programs are the reason that they stay at their organization and 78% confirmed that wellbeing programs make an employer more attractive.[5]

Through the creation of holistic wellbeing programs focused on creating safe spaces for women, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized employee groups, employers create safety and support for all employees which directly supports the organization’s goals and mission while simultaneously reducing impact to the organization’s bottom line by fostering healthy, creative, engaged, and loyal employees. Whether the employer wants to up-level their workplace culture and employment environment or create a program from the ground up, partnering with wellbeing experts to focus on the 8 dimensions of employee wellbeing is the most important approach an employer can take in an effort to create engagement and loyalty with employees.


[1] McKinsey Quarterly, Employee well-being: The holistic way, 2022.
[2] Gallup, State of the Global Workforce Report, 2019.
[3] Center for American Progress, The State of the LGBTQ Community in 2020, 2020.
[4] McKinsey Quarterly, Employee well-being: The holistic way, 2022.
[5] Alight Solutions, Health and Financial Wellbeing Mindset Study, 2022.
[6] Gallup, Employee Engagement Survey, 2022.