How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety,

Returning to Work: How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety

Mental health, and employee well-being in general, have been prominent topics of conversation throughout the pandemic.

At first, quarantine had an overwhelming impact on everyone’s mental well-being. A sense of isolation paired with never really being able to “shut off” work was an issue at the forefront for so many. Fast forward 18 months to now, when many employers have announced their return-to-work plans and the transition is well underway. It turns out going back to the office has been just as challenging, if not more so, than the sudden switch to remote work.

In June 2021, global management consulting firm McKinsey conducted a survey of 1,602 employed people, in which 1 in 3 employees reported that returning to the office negatively impacted their mental health.

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety at work is marked by the presence of feelings of interpersonal trust and an overall culture of respect and inclusivity that invites members to show up as their whole selves, take risks, and innovate. Ensuring employees feel psychologically safe in the workplace is part of supporting their mental well-being through this new round of changes.

What are the current employee concerns; how can employers help?

Perhaps the most obvious include physical concerns related to contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to loved ones, including immuno-compromised family members and children who may not yet be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Another top-ranking concern is flexibility, which 62% of survey respondents reported could decrease the stress of transitioning back on-site. Many employees are seeking hybrid work arrangements and more time off. In our increasingly busy world, one where employees are often leaving for greener pastures, employers are needing to find ways to accommodate people in this regard.

What role can your workplace wellness program play in supporting psychological safety at work?

Holistic corporate wellness programs can go beyond providing employees with stand-alone movement, meditation, or cooking classes. When executed well, engagement with these offerings helps to create a culture of well-being at work – a culture where qualities like openness, inclusivity, and caring about co-worker’s joys and challenges, becomes normalized — all of which can help to reduce mental health stigma and help employees find a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Livestream and on-site classes — activities done together in real time — serve to bring employees together to cultivate a shared experience, and even a sense of community and purpose, around something other than work. Through interacting with co-workers during a wellness webinar on reducing stress through meditation, for example, employees may come to realize that they have the same anxieties and stressors as some of their peers and feel less alone as a result.

Providing options can help to reduce stress and give employees flexibility in how they engage with your wellness offerings. Each employee population is a little different. Try mixing up your offerings and how they are delivered. If your employee report feeling “Zoomed out” by the end of the day, it may be difficult to get everyone on board to take part in a single virtual class. Instead, try offering a mix of virtual and on-site services, or perhaps some on-demand classes they can take part in when it feels right for them.

For example, try offering 2-3 weekly yoga classes paired with an on-site massage session once per month. If on-site programming does not yet feel accessible in your area yet due to state or local restrictions, it’s something to consider for the future.

Finally, with ‘The Great Resignation’ underway, your employee wellness program has to do double duty — that is, support existing employees while also signaling to prospective team members the type of workplace culture you are looking to prioritize. If you’re in a leadership role, model positive engagement with existing wellness offerings. Stay connected with current employees’ needs, both by surveying and talking with them regularly, while staying abreast of the trends. A quality well-being program is a singular, yet potentially very impactful piece of the puzzle of supporting your team’s mental health.

In Closing

Psychological safety is a huge part of your employee’s overall well-being and prioritizing it in your company’s return-to-work strategy will be of the utmost importance. If your company is seeking a partner to help tailor and execute a corporate wellness program for these times — look no further! We have a deep commitment to understanding the nuances of employee wellness and will be here with you every step of the way.

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition, and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

The Great Resignation and Your Employee Wellness Strategy

The Great Resignation and Your Employee Wellness Strategy

by Kasey Stewart

Many employees are on the move in search of greener pastures. There is a record 9.2 million job openings in the US and not enough employees to fill them. The power dynamic has shifted; employees are using this time to ask for the working conditions and benefits that support the lifestyle they aspire to – and employers would be wise to pay attention.

With the ‘Great Resignation’ underway, there is no better time to assess and re-vamp your corporate wellness program to best meet current employees’ needs, while piquing the interest of prospective team members.

The Great Resignation is a term coined by Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, to describe the mass exodus of employees leaving their jobs post-pandemic in search of more fulfilling options.

The pandemic has led people to contemplate the meaning of life and assess what they truly want out of it, bringing into question the value in being chained to an office cubicle from 9-5 (or in some cases, much longer) when more flexible opportunities exist aligned with their larger goals exist.


Employees are expecting more than just money.

By now, many companies know the value of supporting employees in all dimensions of wellbeing.

According to WorldatWork’s “Workplace Well-Being Trends” survey, 61% of HR leaders said demand for well-being programs has increased in their organization in recent months, as has employee utilization (up 63%).

The survey highlights that a culture of care focused on the whole person is the factor that ultimately leads to a more engaged, resilient, and therefore successful workforce.

Here at Urban Balance, we believe that building a culture of care extends beyond supporting individuals, and into creating an environment where the collective is valued and employees are encouraged to build community with one another as they move through their days.


Use your employee wellness strategy to build community and create meaningful connection.

In a recent report from Business Group on Health, 64% of large companies surveyed said their employee wellness plan included programming that emphasized social connectedness and 21% said they were considering adding more of this in the future.

In a world where many employees will continue to work from home at least part-time, and where app-based wellness programs focused more on individual progress have become a common corporate wellness solution, factoring in opportunities for employees to connect with one another via livestream classes and webinars creates a refreshing opportunity for them to take a break from work and come together.

On-demand, app-based programming is a fantastic solution for companies looking for convenience and the ability to offer a piece of content for a certain period of time. The only downside is the lack of personal connection between presenter or teacher and employees, as well as a missed opportunity for employees to build connections with one another.

This is a gap that we aim to fill with our livestream programming. Employees meet at a certain time each week for a group yoga experience, or maybe a few times per month for special webinars to help keep them on track with their nutrition, finances, or mental well-being.

Livestream wellness offerings are a great way to connect existing employees and welcome new ones to the team. There is a sense of connection and camaraderie that forms within these groups. It’s something we’ve seen first-hand throughout the pandemic and that we look forward to continuing as we all settle into the next phase of pandemic life together.

In Conclusion

The coming months will present an opportunity for companies to do right by their employees so they can live better and work better. This period of turnover may feel daunting for those working in HR/talent acquisition. Many uncertainties still exist, and finding the right culture balance through the turmoil and turnover will be challenging.

However, once everything shakes out, the most positive outcome we can imagine is that employees will find themselves in a job/workplace where they feel engaged, supported, and satisfied – the ultimate win-win for all.

Employees are uprooting their lives in search of greater meaning, inspiration, and connection. How will your company address this need?


Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition, and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.


Navigating Employee Wellbeing in the Hybrid Workplace

by Kasey Stewart

In the latest phase of pandemic recovery, companies across the country are embracing a formal shift toward a hybrid work environment. Many are in the process of welcoming employees back into corporate offices this summer, while others are in the planning stages for a larger-scale return in the fall.

This shift in work environments, along with a changing labor market, is prompting companies to invest in their physical workspaces and their team – everything from office renovations to beefed up benefits packages – in an attempt to retain employees and enhance their experience.

A recent report from Microsoft paints a detailed picture of the current state of affairs. According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index Annual Report, a notable 66% of leaders said their company is considering re-designing its office space for hybrid work. On the employee side, 73% of workers surveyed want flexible remote work options to continue, while 67% are ready for more in-person time with their teammates.

These statistics paint a clear picture – permanent changes are coming to the way we work, and both companies and employees are on board. The report even goes so far as to frame hybrid work as “the next great disruption”.

Is your workplace ready – and is your company as prepared as it can be to prioritize employee wellbeing through the transition? Read more

Why your company should curate classes for employees instead of offering flex dollars

Why your company should curate classes for employees instead of offering flex dollars

By Phoebe Schiff


If your company offers a Wellness Spending Account or any type of flexible wellness dollars for employees, it may be time to consider adding live classes that bring employees together in community, promote accountability, and offer a source of stability.


Employee turnover, new talent acquisition, relocation to physical offices, changing policies, and a general feeling of disarray are just a few of the experiences companies are undergoing.


With all of this in the background, Wellness Spending Accounts and flexible wellness dollars are important resources for employees to feel like they have support.


However, offering people flexible spending for wellness services in stressful moments like this doesn’t compare to the shared experience of curated, community-oriented wellness services like live yoga classes, meditation, nutrition classes, and wellness webinars Read more

Pandemic Reflections: Co-Creating The World We Want to Live In

Pandemic Reflections: Co-Creating The World We Want to Live In

The pandemic has revealed how deeply interconnected we are with everyone and everything on the planet. We have seen first-hand how a virus with a single point of origin could come to affect us collectively in one way or another.

Whether that impact has looked like losing your sense of day-to-day normalcy, or at worst, contracting the virus or losing loved ones, we have all felt the toll and witnessed the great suffering and iniquity it has revealed. But now that the regulations are starting to lift and our movements are becoming less restricted, where do we go from here? Read more

Stress: The Good, The Bad, and How to Navigate it at Work

Stress is a given in our modern lives. We can’t escape it fully – nor would that necessarily be a good thing. Though it gets a pretty bad rap, some stress can actually be beneficial in helping us to move forward and grow in life.

Regardless of how it’s classified, stress is our body’s way of responding to a demand or threat. In the presence of the stressor, the body kicks into what’s known as “fight or flight” mode, or the “stress response”.

The Types of Stress

We’ll start with Distress — the “bad stress”. Perhaps the most widely-recognized type of stress, it’s the kind that, especially when chronic, can lead to major health issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can also exacerbate mental health conditions including anxiety and depression. Distress may be triggered by a variety of factors including the death of a loved one, relationship issues/divorce, isolation, financial issues, sleep problems, or simply working too much.

Then, we have Eustress – the “good stress”. It’s the type that inspires, motivates, and ultimately, it’s what helps us feel alive. Read more

On Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

On Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: How Companies Can Demonstrate Care

It is no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health to some degree throughout the past year.

According to a survey by the CDC, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a marked increase in substance abuse.

As a corporate wellness company focused on holistic programming, we recognize that mental health and wellbeing are inextricably linked from the overall picture of employee wellness. So, what is the relationship between the two, and what can support look like in the workplace? Read on. Read more

The Well-Being Difference: Taking a Holistic Approach to Corporate Wellness Programs

According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center in early 2020, one third of Americans have experienced high levels of psychological distress during the pandemic. Nearly one year into this event, we also know that stress and burnout are now more prominent in the workplace than ever.

These issues were rising even prior to the pandemic, but what is clear now is just how many employees are expecting support from their employers. According to a MetLife survey, 76% of employees think their workplace has a responsibility for their health and well-being. As noted in the summary of the study (linked), employees need an ally. Employers can assume this role by acknowledging their employees as whole people and providing holistic support through their wellness programming. Read more


How Virtual Cooking Classes Taught Me to Love Cooking

by Phoebe Schiff with Urban Balance

Cooking, to me, used to feel like an arduous, unpleasant task. So many steps. So many dishes to wash, ingredients to scour the grocery store for, and steps to follow. Another chore among the dozens of others, on my never-ending to-do list.

Enter: pandemic. Remember at the beginning of quarantine when we were instructed to buy enough groceries for two weeks and everyone started fighting each other for toilet paper and frozen taquitos? When grocery shopping suddenly became the new street fighting?

Read more

4 Ways to Promote Resilience Within Remote Teams

November 2020

There’s a lot of talk about “Covid fatigue” these days. Perhaps you’re seeing signs of it in your employees and colleagues, and maybe even yourself. Now several months into this global pandemic, most workplaces have moved beyond the adrenaline/shock of it all and further into the question of “when will we go back to normal?” Read more