Thriving Together Series: Helping Workers Thrive as They Return to Workplaces

revolving door office Thriving Together

This edition of the Thriving Together Series is adapted from The Well-Being Lab 2020 Workplace Report, a collaboration between our center and The Well-Being Lab (a Michelle McQuaid program). The report is based on two surveys of more than 1,000 workers each, throughout the United States.

Only 21.6% of workers reported that they feel positive about returning to workplaces after working remotely during the pandemic. With that in mind, in addition to the physical measures that need to be put in place to care for workers’ well-being, we recommend workplaces take the following actions.

Gauge Workers’ Mental Temperature

Understand how workers are feeling about returning to the workplace. Are they relieved at the idea of getting out of their house or are they worried about caring for their health and finding new ways of safely working together? Make it safe for workers to speak openly and honestly about their concerns and their hopes for creating new norms for working safely and productively together. Think about and discuss ‘graded’ returns to work, where possible.

Offer Free Well-Being Testing

Encourage your workers to measure their well-being so they understand what’s working, where they’re struggling and what they want to prioritize when it comes to caring for the mental, social, and physical well-being. Free tools like the PERMAH Well-Being Survey provide confidential testing in just 5 minutes.

Recognize the Symptoms of Struggle

Educate your workers that feelings of stress and struggle are not signs that their well-being is breaking, but rather reflect internal and external challenges. Some struggles are within a person’s control, others are not. Make it safe to talk about the struggles that people are experiencing. For struggles that can be controlled, help workers identify actions they can take to address concerns. Consider whether adjustments can be made in the workplace to support people well. And for struggles that cannot be controlled, encourage workers to practice self-compassion and compassion towards each other as they adjust to the ongoing uncertainty and changes required of them.

Encourage Personal Well-Being Practices

Give your workers access to short, simple, well-being training sessions and small group coaching check-ins that put simple, evidence-based, daily practices to care for their well-being at their fingertips. Help workers to support and celebrate each other’s efforts as they prioritize caring for their mental and physical well-being.

Recommend a Daily Dose of Leader Care

Teach leaders the skills to genuinely connect and coach their people through this challenging time. Encourage leaders to deliver daily doses of care, compassion, and appreciation for their team members. Help your leaders understand that this it is more important to care for workers well than to manage performance during this time.

Plan Regular Staff Checkups

Invite your people to provide feedback and feed forward in their teams and across your workplace to continue co-creating a new working reality as circumstances continue to unfold. These steps will help workers more successfully return to work, providing simple actions that can help your workers to thrive.

Additional Resources

Learn how to apply the science of well-being to your leadership, in our Leading to Well-Being certificate programs.

Measure your well-being through the free PERMAH Well-Being Survey. See how you’re doing when it comes to your levels of thriving and struggle, and your abilities and motivation to care for your well-being. You can even create a free personal well-being plan, drawing on more than 200 evidence-based well-being actions. You can also use this tool for teams or entire workplaces.

Write one of these Thriving Together Series features! We’re looking for contributions on all topics related to well-being. Read other Thriving Together Series articles here and contact us at for guidelines. Thank you for helping our Mason community thrive together online!