office meditation

Wellness to Well-Being

There was a time when wellness within companies was thought of in the context of charity 5k runs or team building competitions. Wellness as a core company value didn’t take hold as the importance was little understood and the stigmas surrounding it made cultural adoption difficult.  Wellness support within companies was often something few employees knew existed or felt comfortable exploring.

Today, Well-being in the workplace has taken over what was once “Wellness” and encompasses a great deal more.  The concept of Well-being has quickly gained favor as priorities shift among today’s workforce and its tangible benefits are more deeply understood; benefits such as increased profitability, desirable company culture and favorable brand recognition.

Acknowledging Mental Health Signs

Unlike prior generations, millennials spend nearly 25 percent of their disposable income on supporting mental and emotional well-being1.  With millennials now representing the largest sector of the workforce2, creating work environments that place a premium on supporting mental and emotional well-being are in demand.  Today’s employees are lonely & anxious, craving deeper levels of human connection and community in much different ways than they have in the past3.   2016 was the first time where the concept of consciously tending to one’s own mental and emotional well-being – “self-care” – officially crossed over into the mainstream with Americans googling the term almost twice as often as in year’s past4.  And the current number of google searches for “happiness” exceeded 600mm.

Depression is now the number one cause of ill health worldwide, up 18 percent since 2005 representing a $1 trillion global economic loss per year5.  Depression costs the U.S. economy more than $51 billion a year in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct costs2. The World Health Organization estimates that every $1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in the form of better health and ability to work5.  Price Waterhouse Coopers estimates that for every $1 spent on creating a mentally and emotionally healthy workplace, companies can recoup $2.30 in benefits gained by the organization6.

Employers Taking a Role in Mental Health

When one thought of health, productivity & personal growth within a company, they thought mainly of physical and nutritional states of employees.  Now that understanding is widening to include our mental, emotional and spiritual states as well.

What this means for employers is that there is an opportunity to incorporate a more holistic approach to health to include mental and emotional well-being in addition to supporting physical and nutritional states.  In doing so companies position themselves to benefit in areas such as profitability, retention and overall brand recognition.

Thirty five percent of large and midsize companies are bringing in some form of mindfulness and meditation as there is a growing awareness that there really is no trade-off between supporting employee’s mental and emotional well-being and performance in companies7.  Aetna, for example, saved $2,000 per employee in healthcare costs and improved productivity by $3,000 per employee through the introduction of mindfulness programs7.

Example of What Companies Are Doing

Companies like Aetna have incorporated mindfulness, financial support and resilience into their programs and some have even considered changing company policies in an effort to improve well-being, underscoring its importance.  Very little is off-limits including:

  • Recruiting or on boarding
  • Ongoing training
  • Culture
  • IT
  • Benefit plans
  • Teambuilding
  • Environment

Employers are looking at ways their workplace impacts employees both personally and professionally.  Van Meter went so far as to put in place a policy to stop email after certain hours to promote work/life balance and many are incorporating “mental health days”8&9.

As was the case with wellness, forward thinking employers are looking to the value of investment in well-being programs. In addition to focusing on a return on investment or a reduction in direct costs, companies have broadened the scope of their wellness programs and are looking at the value these programs provide to their employees both personally and professionally.  The result of this shift is a new opportunity for organizational efficiency, retention, productivity and yes, improved profitability.

I M Human helps companies and organizations support the emotional well-being of their employees and implement actionable and measurable initiatives. 

For more information please contact me at


Learn more about Employee Wellness


 1 HIT Consultants – Millennials:  The Rising Generation of Health Hackers – Fred Pennic – July 9, 2015

2 MarketWatch – World Health Day: Millennial women face new mental health struggles in the workplace – Kari Paul – April 7, 2017

3 AARP – Loneliness Among Older Adults: A National Survey of Adults 45+  – G. Oscar Anderson – September 2010

4 Slate – A History of Self-Care – Aisha Harris – April 5, 2017

5 World Health Organization – “Depression: let’s talk” says WHO, as depression tops list of causes of ill health – News Release – March 30, 2017

6 Price Waterhouse Cooper – Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace

7 Wisdom 2.0, San Francisco, 2016 – Arianna Huffington & Mark Bertolini

Marketwatch; Why Some Companies are Treating Employee Mental Health Days like Sick days, February 13, 2017

Harvard Business Review – Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians, Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg, March April 2017

Ian Shea

Ian Shea

Founder & CEO at I M Human
Ian Shea is the founder and CEO of I M Human. I M Human is an organization that partners with businesses to customize initiatives that support and meet the mental, emotional and spiritual needs of their employees. Its goal is to foster human connections that turn Life Moments into opportunities for growth.
Shea has expertise in capital markets and finance that has helped him build and sustain fundamentals needed to raise and allocate capital, successfully engage talent and navigate solutions in response to unmet needs in the marketplace, such as the creation of Maestro Market and I M Human.
His past experience has included investment banking with Prudential Securities and Patricof & Co. Capital. He served as vice president and general manager of ReplayTV where he really learned the “plumbing” of a company. He led Replay through two acquisitions, two turnarounds and a successful exit from bankruptcy, a new business product launch, and finally the company’s sale to DirecTV in 2008.
Shea earned his MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and an MBA from Columbia Business School.He earned his BS in Economics from Cornell.
Ian Shea

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