11 Workplace Wellbeing Trends for CEOs in 2021

People will look back at 2020 as a year that transformed the workplace and the way we live. Faced with such disruption and pressures in both professional and personal life, many business leaders re-focused on their own physical and mental wellbeing as a thrive through uncertain times.

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But what are major workplace wellbeing trends CEOs should be aware of, both for themselves and their teams? We asked eleven experts to share their thoughts.

  1. Will this be the year of compassionate leadership?

“Wellbeing cannot happen without compassion. It cannot be, as compassion is “understanding with positive action”. It begins with self-compassion – knowing what is happening within you and then acting positively with that knowledge.

Extend that to the principle of compassionate leadership, to “secure the best FOR all”, and you create the mindset and culture whereby wellbeing is the leadership norm. If I secure the best FOR you, I gain your commitment, and with that comes your engagement, collaboration, innovation, ownership, performance, happiness and wellbeing.

Wellbeing must be #1 and compassionate leadership is the route.”

Manley Hopkinson is the founder of renowned leadership consultancy Manley Talks LTD and author of Compassionate Leadership. 

  1. Can pets really help boost leadership skills?

“Look to your pets for leadership inspiration – most C-Suite executives attribute pets to having helped them develop positive leadership traits and the ability to identify and anticipate business needs and to discipline subordinates. They regard pet ownership as important to developing better organisational skills. People living with dogs can most easily understand the importance of bio-empathic leadership, which is the ability to look at things from nature’s point of view. Instead of just taking, these leaders give back and help nurture their organisations, as dogs do in their packs.”

Dr Margit Gabriele Muller is the author of Your Pet, Your Pill: 101 Inspirational Stories About How Pets Lead You to A Happy, Healthy and Successful Life.

  1. Will we see female leadership start from the grassroots?

“Where there is disruption, there is opportunity. 2021 may just be the year of opportunity for diversity.

With increasing pressure from employees, investors and shareholders to make diversity a strategic priority, companies will need to think carefully about their next steps. They have a unique moment to realign social responsibility with business strategy, and to create equitable opportunities – it must be seized.

Spurred by commercial, moral and reputational reasoning, 2021 will see organisations make decisive moves to help female leaders advance at every level – identifying and investing in women early, supporting visibility and mapping out a clear path to the top that starts from the grassroots.”

Natasha Harvey is a certified transformational coach, helping young women to help build self-awareness, self-confidence, strong communications skills and resilience. 

  1. Are movies the new self-development books?

“While millions of people turned to movies for entertainment and light relief in lockdown, many also found them to be a source of inspiration to help develop their leadership skills.

In The Pursuit of Happyness, for example, Chris Gardner, a real-life multi-millionaire businessman played by Will Smith, demonstrates so much of what many leaders need: hard skills like sales; soft skills like flexibility and the hunger to succeed; personal qualities such as honesty, humour and charisma; re/training when necessary; strategy; being unconventional; being present, even after setbacks; exploiting opportunities for all they’re worth and being a socially responsible leader by helping others to move up.

Yes, it is entertaining, but there are also some invaluable lessons CEOs can take away.”

Dawud Gurevitch is a life coach and author of May the Source Be with You: A Filmic Guide to Change Your Life.

  1. Is it time for CEOs to rebrand themselves?

“2020 was the year that the corporate mask came off – with the ‘new normal’ of working from home and having to juggle professional life alongside domestic responsibilities, we all became a little bit more human.

Gone are the days of having to put on a brave face at work or pretend to be someone you’re not. This year it’s all about bringing your whole self to work – showing your personality, pursuing passions, working in ways that work better for you personally and shrugging off corporate conditioning to lead a truly flexible and fulfilled work life.”

Angelica Malin is an award-winning young entrepreneur, founder of lifestyle magazine About Time and author of new book She Made It.

  1. Is it time for CEOs to break the glass ceiling for others?

“The CEO’s role is singularly the most impactful role in an organisation. Your whisper is heard resoundingly loud up and down the corridors of your organisation, regardless of its size. Your decisions will impact the prosperity of one trend in 2021: The increasing focus on the ‘S’ of the ESG agenda, within which the spotlight on inclusion and diversity will shine bright.

Gone are the days when little was said to challenge C-suites and boards whose occupants are all white. The request for ethnicity pay gap reporting will get louder. The cracks inside the invisible black ceiling blocking the progressive career advancement of the black professional will emerge. It is in your gift, as CEO, to take the hammer to it and smash it.

The future of Inclusion rests on your shoulders. The question is this: Is there a CEO out there willing to be accountable?”

Yetunde Hofmann is an executive leadership coach, global change, inclusion and diversity expert and founder of SOLARIS.

  1. Will we see mindfulness in the boardroom?

“Regular meditation and mindfulness practice has proven to improve our productivity. Performance and cognitive skills such as focus, attention span, learning, and memory, are beneficial for our business, career, and financial wellness. In fact, a Harvard study discovered that with only eight weeks of meditation influenced healthy growth in the grey matter of participants brain in the areas associated with memory, learning, empathy, self-awareness, and stress regulation.

Many CEOs and leaders discovered mindfulness as the way to thrive in 2020 and investing just 5-10 minutes per day will help you accomplish higher levels of business success.”

Pranita Salunke is a preventive cardiology specialist and author of Vitality: A Healthy and Happy Heart. 

  1. Is this the end for the workaholic?

“Evidence has proven that ‘workaholism’ is not only harmful to the workforce but bad for business. High levels of stress lead to burnout, which has been identified by the WHO as an “occupational phenomenon”, is at an all-time high. What happens when we are stressed, and our bodies are overrun with cortisol? We seek quick fixes to distract – this could be trying to relax with alcohol, social media likes, gaming, shopping online or going to the gym compulsively. However, all of these behaviours can become addictive when used as a coping mechanism.

This year, let’s encourage long term strategies for success rather than quick fixes and work smarter not harder.”

Mandy Manners is an addictive behaviours expert and co-author of Love Yourself Sober with Kate Baily.

  1. Are CEOs discovering their own Physical Intelligence?

“To quote a 2020 McKinsey report: “forward-looking companies know that everything else—such as technology, access to raw materials, intellectual property, and customer relationships— is fleeting and the only sustainable advantage is rooted in harnessing the passion, skills, capabilities, judgment, and creativity that people bring to work.” Physical Intelligence unlocks that sustainable advantage because physiology powers our performance.

As organisations revisit wellbeing and prioritise people, we see Physical intelligence for business success as a trend for 2021, generating increased resilience, motivation, and productivity – unlocking and sustaining the full potential of the people whose efforts will lift us out of this crisis.”

Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton are the directors of workplace performance and wellbeing consultancy Companies in Motion and authors of Physical Intelligence. 

  1. Could journaling help rescue us from our inboxes?

“Journaling is a powerful practice that can give your thoughts clarity, help you understand which goals are worth pursuing and guide you towards aligned action. When you’re running a fast-paced business or when you may feel overwhelmed or overcome by ‘shiny object syndrome’, journaling can become an invaluable tool.

When used in as little as 3 minutes a day, it can organise your thoughts, prompt reflection, generate creative ideas, release stress and provide perspective.”

Carina Lawson is a business consultant, time management coach and the founder of Ponderlily Planners & Journals.

  1. Is remote working here to stay?

“The global pandemic undoubtedly brought up incredible challenges for bosses and employees alike in 2020, but the adoption of remote working could be a positive to take away.

Millions of people around the world will thank remote working for transforming their life. Working from home has given people the precious gift of time, freed them from unnecessary tasks and meetings and instead gave permission to step back, re-boot, think about the bigger picture, get creative.

It has been hard for many leaders to let go, but a re-energised team will pay you back.”

Mark Simmonds is a creativity, insight and innovation expert and the founder of GENIUS YOU.

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