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08 Jan 2024
by Dawn Lewis

Dr Wizdom Powell of Headspace on the power of bringing your whole self to work

Dr Wizdom Powell of Headspace says employees more than ever want to work in organisations that engender authenticity

Dr Wizdom Powell of Headspace on the power of bringing your whole self to work.jpg


Bringing your “whole self” to work has become vitally important to counteract deepening social fragmentation, says Dr Wizdom Powell, Chief Social Impact and Diversity Officer at Headspace.

Speaking on the Employee and wellbeing benefits that truly encourage inclusivity and belonging REBA webinar on 7 September 2023, Dr Powell said: “Bringing our whole selves to work in a world that seems to instigate fragmentation can be incredibly challenging. Yet, there’s also this fierce urgency for wholeness that leaders and employees are feeling,” she said. 

“Now, more than ever, employees want to work in environments that engender authenticity. They want to be valued for all of the parts of themselves.”

She highlighted that feeling whole gives people a sense of psychological safety and belonging. In turn, this leads to better employee wellbeing and higher rates of innovation and productivity.

A more vulnerable workforce

Recent events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which blurred the lines between private and public life, have led to a more permissive culture, Powell believes. Employees and leaders alike have embraced being more open about their wider lives, while progress in breaking down the stigma around mental health has also fuelled the desire to bring the whole self to work.

“We’re now in each other’s lives in a different way. So, for some people, it’s giving them structural permission to be more radically vulnerable. And in other ways, it’s also reflecting our true reality of upticks in mental health struggles among people around the globe,” she said.

This creates an opportunity for employers: “We have now a workforce that is more open to seeking mental health support, more open to bringing their whole selves. We just have to rise to meet them at that intention.”

She explained that bringing the whole self to work isn’t just about protected characteristics such as race, gender, ethnicity and religion, but also about life events that are affecting the employee. Be it divorce, bereavement, fertility challenges – these events all have the potential to impact employees’ health, wellbeing and productivity. 

Powell added that to ensure employees feel able to bring their whole selves to work, “we have to be willing to talk about the elephants in the room, and to address the status dynamics that really keep people from disclosing”.

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