Talent & HR Wellness Organizational culture

An organizational response to well-being

Watch the full recorded broadcast above.

The importance of employee well-being and the related best practices are not new. Examples of programs that consider employee well-being go as far back as the dawn of the industrial revolution; for instance, in the mining industry, a law in the 1860s was enacted to guarantee ventilation for coal workers in an effort prevent black lung disease.

Today, the corporate well-being industry continues to grow. Before COVID-19, the size of the United States' well-being industry was estimated at about $8 billion USD. Yet much of the focus of corporate well-being has historically been on absenteeism prevention and, more recently, health and safety.

On Thursday, October 22, The Ivey Academy hosted a complimentary livestream to dig deeper and examine the importance of well-being to contemporary organizations. Our panel featured Karen Collins, Chief Talent Officer, BMO; Andrew Soren, Founder & CEO, Eudaimonic by Design; and our own Dr. Mazi Raz. Recognizing that well-being is among the key drivers of socio-economic progress – subsequently, the link between the employee's well-being and the overall performance of an organization – the panel explored a broader perspective on well-being. By going beyond the absence of illness, the panel discussed how leaders can help advance well-being as both a strategy and long-term sustainable concern for not only their organization, but society as well.

Key webinar content

Core topics

  • What the term “well-being” really means
  • What we know about well-being now that we didn’t know 10 – 20 years ago
  • Well-being from both an individual and collective perspective and how they are related
  • Ways the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified certain trends that negatively impact well-being
  • BMO’s organizational purpose and how it fosters employee and societal well-being
  • The importance of creating a well-being ecosystem
  • Using always-on employee listening as a tool to focus well-being efforts
  • The concept of authentic selves
  • The function of employee assistance programs (EAP) in a time of crisis and how to augment EAP services
  • Building nuance into employee well-being programs to meet the needs of individual employees
  • Why do we see such a varying response to well-being from businesses?
  • The availability of research on the subject of organizational well-being
  • The role of public policy, government, boards, shareholders, and infrastructure in advancing well-being
  • Barriers to achieving a greater sense of well-being
  • Creating time and space for well-being
  • What does the future hold? Will well-being continue to be prioritized post-COVID?
  • Combatting the stigma associated with employees taking stress leave or leaves to manage a mental health event
  • Managing highs and lows

Memorable quotes

“Increasingly, well-being is being used as a measure that is as important as GDP to measure a society’s success.” – Andrew Soren

“There’s no well-being without fairness in society.” – Andrew Soren

“I’ve seen the most effective responses to well-being in organizations that don’t just focus on one element (of well-being). They focus on culture … they focus on providing resources, and also actions in a really deliberate, ecosystem way.” – Karen Collins

“We want people to bring their authentic selves to work. We know when people cover, and they can’t bring their authentic selves to work, that’s a real threat to their well-being and their feeling of well-being at work.” – Karen Collins

“In so many organizations, there is very little focus on prevention. I think that organizations that are really doing something different right now are really focusing on prevention. What can we do to inoculate our employee base so they don’t need to be so reliant on EAP?” – Andrew Soren

“We often think of well-being as being physically fit and generally happy in life. But these two things are not possible in absence of having social relations – and the world is making it a lot more difficult for us to be socially connected.” – Dr. Mazi Raz

“This way of thinking is different than the way that we’ve been thinking before. It is at odds with the shareholder mindset … I think that’s a good reason why it has (a focus on well-being) been potentially uncomfortable. The pandemic has taught us there is no business if we don’t think about the lives of the human beings who are working for us.” – Andrew Soren

“We have to think about well-being not just within the organization but within society at large. We need to invest in the well-being of the immediate generation and future generations, then we will not be able to attract, retain, and engage the employees we need. This is a long-term conversation and we need to pay serious attention to it.” – Dr. Mazi Raz

Additional reading

How to Create a Culture of Organizational Well-Being, Gallup
Realizing the positive ROI of supporting employees’ mental health, Deloitte Canada
Dying for a paycheck, Jeffrey Pfeffer
How Do You Scale Excellence?
, Hayagreeva Rao and Robert Sutton, Insights by Stanford Business
Why I Wrote The No Asshole Rule, Robert I. Sutton, Harvard Business Review
The PERMAH well-being survey, Dr. Michelle McQuaid, The Wellbeing Lab
Resilience resources, Eudaimonic by design


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About The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School
The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School is the home for executive Learning and Development (L&D) in Canada. It is Canada’s only full-service L&D house, blending Financial Times top-ranked university-based executive education with talent assessment, instructional design and strategy, and behaviour change sustainment. 

Rooted in Ivey Business School’s real-world leadership approach, The Ivey Academy is a place where professionals come to get better, to break old habits and establish new ones, to practice, to change, to obtain coaching and support, and to join a powerful peer network. Follow The Ivey Academy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.