Posted: 01 Dec. 2020 12 min. read

Elevating the Workforce Experience: The Well-being Relationship

How workplace well-being influences the employee experience

Elevating the Workforce Experience: Part 2

Deloitte's Workforce Experience by Design practice uses human-centered, equity-based design to understand workers like we do customers and design experience solutions that cultivate trust and loyalty. We define workforce experience as "the sum of a human’s lived experiences at work and how they feel about their organization" and believe there are eight key relationships that influence a worker's experience at an organization - two of which have been newly incorporated into our leading practice perspective. These elements include a worker's relationship with the work they do, the people they work with, the places they work, the technology they use, the organization they work for, their personal well-being, their sense of belonging, and the growth that delivers value to their career. A worker's sense of belonging and their growth are two new additions to highlight how organizations can foster diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities for the worker (belonging) and portable value beyond a worker's lived experiences (growth).

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report, 80% of survey respondents identified well-being as an important or very important priority for their organization’s success, but only 12% said that they were very ready to address the issue.This gap between importance and readiness, identified prior to the pandemic, highlighted the need to prioritize well-being in the workforce experience. Now, recent events, including the pandemic, are challenging organizations to reimagine and expand workers’ well-being programs beyond physical and occupational safety. For organizations to thrive in today’s current climate, challenges to workers’ well-being must be addressed holistically (i.e., from physical, mental, financial, and social perspectives) and well-being must be integrated into work itself.2

This article will focus on the second of the core relationship attributes for elevating the Workforce Experience – Well-being. The Well-being attribute focuses on the worker’s relationship to their personal life, rewards and well-being, goals, and worldview. Six primary elements influence the Well-being relationship:


The ability of a worker to manage their mental health, stress, and work-life integration

Workers’ existences do not begin and end with work. Humans all desire to have some level of autonomy over their lives and to be able to connect with others. Workers want to be enabled to manage their mental health, stress, and work-life. Unfortunately, the current climate has blurred the already thin line between work and life. Many workers are unable to distance themselves from the virtual workplace. Conversely, the 24/7 connectivity may have left workers in a human “experience debt,” feeling lonely and isolated from their colleagues, organization, and leaders.3

Organizations can show support and empathy for their workers by allowing for greater flexibility to attend to well-being needs. For instance, workers tend to feel more satisfied when they have some degree of ownership over their work arrangements (e.g., working schedule, location, and physical setup). Flexibility also allows the workforce to remain productive despite potential family and schedule issues arising out of the current climate. In addition, ‘PTO etiquette’ can be encouraged by leaders and colleagues to promote accountability while a team member is out of office, allowing that team member to actively disengage from work and prioritize their personal well-being.

In times of crisis, other resources to leverage include employee assistance programs (EAP) and mental health programs.4 Lastly, leaders should model “resilient leadership” by maintaining an open-door policy, empowering their workers to share their personal experiences grappling with the pandemic and other challenges.5


The ability of a worker to manage their physical health, wellness, and physical activity

Now is the time for organizations to provide comprehensive physical well-being resources, reminders, and supplies to encourage their workers to take care of their physical health.

However, physical wellness may look different for each type of workforce segment. For some organizations, shift workers require clean and safe environments, access to health visits, and flexible working options while navigating changing needs. For other workers, operating virtually has distorted lines between work and life. Keeping regular routines for work and taking periodic movement breaks—by taking calls while standing or walking, for example—are just some remedies that allow for workers to recharge at work.


The ability of a worker to manage the financial aspects of their work and personal life

The ability of a worker to manage the financial aspects of their life may be one of the largest drivers of satisfaction in life and work. In fact, reward and well-being programs that meet the essential human needs of workers and their families are one of the most critical levers to engage and motivate workers.7

Today’s workers are seeking an elevated workforce experience that combines meaningful and competitive pay with benefits and rewards that can be tailored to their personal needs. Deloitte defines the process of organizations going beyond bartering rewards for work to providing a personalized, purposeful relationship with employees as “rewards to relationships.” Moving from rewards to relationships requires organizations to understand and provide tailored options for employees’ individual physical condition, emotional resilience, social connections, and financial health.8

Understanding employees’ preferences and designing rewards accordingly, is an essential process for organizations to move from rewards to relationships with their workforce. A preference-based rewards program not only motivates performance but can also help to elevate the workforce experience. By utilizing tools such as conjoint analysis, personas, journey maps, and data from continuous listening assessments, organizations can begin to build a strong connection with their employees.


The connection of a worker’s personal values with the values of others and the organization, creating a sense of fulfillment and meaning

Today’s workers seek to identify with an organization’s purpose, longing to connect at a deeper level to align their personal wants and desire with the organization’s mission. To align worker values and aspirations with those of the organization workers must understand the way their specific role fits within the bigger strategic vision. Organizations that connect their workforce to the overall vision can successfully bridge business goals with values considered meaningful across broad worker segments.9


The ability of the organization to meet the needs of the worker’s personal and professional goals and aspirations

For increasing numbers of workers, opportunities for growth and development are what motivates them to take (and stay at) their jobs. As a result, it is important that companies begin to offer continuous and dynamic learning and development. With supportive management and culture-oriented toward personal and professional growth (and the recognition of that growth through monetary and non-monetary recognition), workers can feel encouraged to explore new areas and challenge themselves in ways that improve engagement and productivity.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

The ability of an organization to empower workers to bring their authentic selves in a safe, encouraging, and accepting environment

Finally, workers themselves know what they need to be successful, so allow them to tell you!10 By building a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion, workers can feel comfortable bringing their ‘authentic selves’ to work. When workers feel comfortable expressing their ideas to coworkers, with the understanding that all viewpoints and backgrounds will be considered equally legitimate, the door to improved collaboration and engagement is opened.  

Organizations can also encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion from the top. For example, leaders and managers can be trained to have a critical eye for unconscious biases, serve as sponsors for underrepresented minorities, create open forums around equity and inclusion, and reassess hiring and promotion practices to bring in people from varied backgrounds and cultures.

In summary, workers are looking for more than just a paycheck; they desire to experience and relationship with the organization. To elevate the Workforce Experience, organizations must consider their workers’ well-being and how they support well-being holistically: through mind, body, finances, purpose, growth, and inclusion. By integrating these well-being components into the workplace, organizations can help workers not only feel their best but also perform at their best – strengthening the tie between well-being and organizational outcomes.11


Mike Gilmartin, is a Senior Manager in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice. With more than 20 years of human resource and employee benefits experience, Michael works with large clients on their rewards and well-being plan and program strategy, design, delivery, and administration, all through the lens of maximizing plan and program impact, empowering worker engagement, and driving sustainable performance.

Maribeth Sivak, is a Specialist Leader in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she helps clients implement design thinking to reimagine and redefine the workforce experience. What makes her unique is her ability to thread workforce experience through solutions from strategy to design through implementation to deliver a transformative workforce experience and business results.

Jen Guo, is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice, where she helps clients envision, re-design, and organizationally manage their ideal employee experience. She uses her Ph.D. in psychology to provide insights on employee needs, better understand pain-points, and deliver a successful change program for cross-industry clients.

Terry Porter, Ed.D. is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice focusing on organizational transformations that equip the workforce to deliver on business strategy. He utilizes his research, coaching, and design thinking acumen to help clients achieve their strategic ambitions by elevating their workforce experience.


1 Erica Volini, et al, “Designing work for well-being: Living and performing at your best,” Deloitte Insights, May 15, 2020.

2 Pete DeBellis, “Promoting workforce wellness in unpresented circumstances,” HR Toolbox, June 16, 2020.

3 Deloitte, Addressing the impact of COVID-19: Elevating the human experience during crisis, 2020.

4 Deloitte, Addressing the impact of COVID-19: Reward and well-being program impacts, 2020.

5 Deloitte, Addressing the impact of COVID-19: Navigating your organization through uncharted territory, 2020.

6 Deloitte, Addressing the impact of COVID-19: Elevating the human experience during crisis.

7 Deloitte, Addressing the impact of COVID-19: Reward and well-being program impacts

8 Deloitte, Rewards to Relationships

9 Deloitte, Addressing the impact of COVID-19: Elevating the human experience during crisis.

10 Deloitte, Addressing the impact of COVID-19: Navigating your organization through uncharted territory

11 DeBellis, “Promoting workforce wellness in unpresented circumstances.” 

Join the conversation