Scene from Fury Road

At the end of each year, a hush falls over the world, as it awaits the arrival of…

…the annual end-of-year wellness wrap-up that Jen Arnold and I record for her Redesigning Wellness podcast! It’s here!

This year was no different.  Of course, this year was completely different, but Jen and I still managed to offer some reflections on 2020 in employee wellness. Unlike previous years, this time we forgot to prepare for took a pass on the nerding out on analysis of peer-reviewed studies that have tested the patience of delighted audiences in years past.

Predictions? Oh, we have predictions. We’ve got nothing. Our best shot at predictions were:

Me: “Anyone who’s doing predictions is kidding themselves.”

Jen: “Who knows? All we can do is roll with it.”

Early in the conversation, we share our perspectives on wellness conferences during the pandemic, with me recapping my experience of the Health Enhancement Research Organization’s annual summit, which this year was held in pajamas virtually.

Speaking about health enhancement, I also humble-brag about cite the emotional well-being program and white paper that I worked on for Health Enhancement Systems (HES).

And you’ll notice Jen and me frequently framing things as catastrophes challenges and rationalization opportunities. Jen, for example, talks about how we’ve expanded our vision of wellbeing and the role of wellbeing professionals, and I emphasize how the concept of essential work spotlights the meaning of work.

Of course, we virtue signal explore how social justice and other aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion pertain to employee wellness. Jen notes: “We can’t have wellbeing when people feel excluded.”

(Apropos of nothing: Whenever I spoke with Jen in 2020, I pictured her — as she and her family have, since April, lived, worked, and schooled while traveling the country in their RV — as a character out of Mad Max: Jen at the wheel of the rig, bursting toward us through a wall of flame and smoke, soldiering on across a dystopian prairie in relentless pursuit of her next podcast guest.)

We talk about employee wellness colleagues who are being laid off, as well as opportunities that may open up, and I put it in the context of things I know little about an uncertain economy.

I stick it to the man counter popular wisdom, by explaining why “I don’t think companies out of the goodness of their heart are going to see the light as a result of COVID and pour resources into wellness,” but on a brighter note, recognize the new abnormal normal as a potentially positive “inflection point for the industry.”

Speaking about the new abnormal normal, Jen decries, “A weight loss challenge? Please, God, no!” And she shares compelling insights and an inspiring story about employees experiencing difficulties like alcohol misuse and recovery during the pandemic.

We acknowledge that the challenges of 2020 weren’t limited to COVID (and social unrest). There were also wildfires, smoke, racism, political polarization, financial strain, work-life conflict, a 20-minute Netflix outage in April, and hurricanes.

I could go on, but I need to go to the bathroom don’t want to give it all away here. Rest assured, we cover a lot — mental health; COVID vaccines; home schooling; my announcement about Mental Health First Aid; and Jen’s exciting 2021 innovations for her podcast, Redesigning Wellness Academy, resilience training, and a new “connection point.”

Listen now wherever you get podcasts. If podcast players confuse you, Get more information and/or stream the episode on Jen’s Redesigning Wellness website.

I offer my sincere and unredactable thanks to Jen for allowing me once again to visit her wonderful podcast.