Posted: 17 Jun. 2021 5 min. read

2021 Global Human Capital Trends

Designing work for well-being: The end of work/life balance

The “so what” in 30 seconds

Zoom fatigue—the term, coined in 2020, describes the burnout feeling that comes from back-to-back virtual meetings while managing the management of your workload, the stresses of childcare, caring for loved ones, quieting pets, and coping with the isolation of the pandemic.

Though there has been some light-hearted media coverage of this issue, it remains a serious business challenge. For many of us, work has changed both quickly and fundamentally. Few leaders have had the time to move beyond react mode and start designing a way of working. 

The next frontier for well-being needs to factor in thinking around financial, social, and emotional well-being, all of which will require traditional supports models. Design-led thinking around our ‘new ways of working’ can better balance productivity goals over the short term. But most importantly, it needs to be based on the belief that work should be sustainable for all involved, protecting our people, as well as the bottom line.

A deeper dive

COVID-19 has fundamentally disrupted our understanding of worker well-being, most notably the work/life balance. Last year, we saw organizations take quick action to redirect resources to make work safe and keep workers healthy. As the pandemic continues, organizations understand that further shifts are needed:

  • From work/life balance to work/life integration
  • From well-being programs that are adjacent to work to well-being programs embedded into the work
  • From less holistic approaches to integrating well-being at all three levels: worker, team, and organizational
  • From siloed HR and technology functions to organizational workflows, processes, and technologies designed and executed to promote worker well-being
  •  From only viewing well-being as an optimal outcome of workforce transformation to all stakeholders, including leadership, seeing the value of this approach
  • From an approach that lacks detail to work and workspace design that’s cultural, operational, relational, physical, and virtual.

Although the pandemic has highlighted the dual imperatives of worker well-being and work transformation, many executives are still failing to see the importance of connecting the two. What is at stake?

Organizations that fail to connect a work transformation to worker well-being will miss out on a key opportunity for greater workforce resilience, higher organizational performance, and a foundation for long-term success.  

Designing work to integrate well-being at the individual, team, and organizational levels is a gateway to a sustainable future. A future that drives and sustains human performance and potential, where workers can feel and perform at their best.

What does this mean for organizations?

By prioritizing the dual imperatives of well-being and workforce transformation and successfully designing and embedding wellbeing across all levels and environments, leaders can position their people and organization to achieve and sustain optimal performance.

What is the impact of driving this change? 

Organizations can drive improved outcomes in areas such as workforce resilience, customer satisfaction, organizational performance, brand reputation, innovation, and adaptability. 

New possibilities arising

As COVID-19 continues to impact the economic landscape, the need for better work-life integration will increase. When the very nature of work itself has changed at such a rapid pace, the ways an organization supports its workers well-being accelerate and adapt in tandem.

For more information, read the 2021 Global Human Capital Trends report

Key contacts

Aaron Groulx

Aaron Groulx

Partner, Human Capital

Aaron is a partner and national Human Resources (HR) transformation advisory leader at Deloitte. He has worked across both Canadian and global industries, helping organizations implement better HR transformation strategy, operations, and technology. Aaron’s focus is helping HR functions expand their services to significantly enhance the role HR plays in business success. He has helped clients adopt a uniquely human approach to extend the influence of their HR teams to alleviate the increasing pressures imposed on modern businesses.

Stephen Harrington

Stephen Harrington

Partner, Human Capital

Stephen is Deloitte’s National Lead – Workforce Strategy, and has been a writer and speaker on the future of work since 2011. With 20 years’ experience in Consulting, Stephen leads transformations in workforce strategy that enable our client’s people to feel personal purpose and impact, as the business drives improved results. Stephen is co-author of the Intelligence Revolution, a recent paper covering implication of the future of work in Canada. He has lead multiple projects in the last few years helping clients build new frameworks and capabilities to stand up future-ready workforces.