Unveiling 2024 Workplace Well-Being Trends: Insights from Sequoia’s Shannon Arens

  • One of the best ways for companies to maximize employee engagement is to run a successful well-being program. 

  • Shannon Arens, Well-Being Consultant at Sequoia Consulting Group, highlights the four pillars of workplace well-being on which the company focuses. Together, they form the foundation of employee happiness and company success.

  • On an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast, Shannon breaks down the four key workplace well-being trends for 2024 and how companies can create holistic well-being programs. 

Sequoia Consulting Group is on a mission to help companies thrive by investing in their employees’ happiness.

Benefits and compensation advisor Sequoia is the pioneer of total people investment (TPI): the ideal strategy for today’s disparate workforce. TPI relies on:

  • Unity across data, design and workflows

  • Care for talent to create a great employee experience

  • Investments in the right people — backed up by solid data

For companies to truly thrive, today’s people managers need to be able to retain their best employees. TPI programs are how companies keep people happy and succeed as a result. Sequoia Well-Being Consultant Shannon Arens says the question organizations should ask is this: “How can we really maximize engagement — and bring success and awareness to those programs?”

In an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast, Shannon talks about the four pillars of workplace well-being. She also details four key workplace well-being trends for 2024 and what’s changed in recent years.

The 4 Pillars of Well-Being

As someone with a lifelong passion for physical and mental wellness, Shannon knows better than most what companies can do to help employees thrive. Armed with a varied background in fitness and counseling, she decided to unify and implement her skills to help more people at scale. As it turns out, Sequoia is the perfect place to do that.

Sequoia focuses on core benefits and total compensation packages — all of which feed into employee well-being. “I help clients understand the vendor landscape, trends, gaps in their [TPI] program and, ultimately, make decisions to meet the needs of their employees,” Shannon explains. Once the programs are in place, she maintains them by keeping people engaged.

The high-level philosophy of Sequoia’s approach is focusing on four pillars of well-being:

  • Physical

  • Financial

  • Family

  • Emotional

“We take clients’ programs, plug them into those [four] buckets and think about overlaps [and] gaps” — all with a goal of making them more holistic, Shannon explains. 

Shannon credits Gallup and its well-being research with a significant impact on Sequoia’s own work. “I find a lot of their data and global studies really meaningful and important when we’re working with our clients,” she says.

Gallup is a great starting point for companies that want to engage managers — a major challenge in larger companies. If managers aren’t living and breathing the workplace culture, HR teams often struggle to bring their goals to life. Organizations can focus on the four pillars of well-being to create the right culture and foster real employee engagement.

2024 Workplace Well-Being Trends

Many of Sequoia’s clients are already looking ahead to 2025, even though 2024 isn’t halfway over. While it might intuitively look like they’re jumping the gun, long-term success relies on thinking about the near future while also studying the present. Current trends can help companies see paths they might be able to carve next.

“They really want to know what’s trending in this space,” Shannon highlights. “[They’re asking,] What should I be thinking about? How can I remain innovative and competitive in our benefits offering for our employees?

To uncover where workplace well-being is headed, Sequoia listens for what’s top of mind for its clients, as well as broader industry trends, pulling data from different sources including Gallup and its own benchmark reports.  Here are four of the top themes for 2024:

  1. Reframing the value of well-being programs: 2023 was tough and packed with cost-based decisions. 2024 is the year for understanding ROI, program impact and goal-setting for more effective programs. “Clients need to justify programs to leadership,” Shannon says. “They want to take care of their employees and need to know how to make the business case for that.”

  2. Building financial resilience: Between layoffs and pandemic-era policy rollbacks, companies are helping their employees manage their finances through education. This includes building or rebuilding emergency savings as well as making student loan repayments, which are due now that the three-year pause on payments has ended.

  3. Supporting an aging workforce: Workforces worldwide now work for longer and retire later. Sequoia asks about how to not only take care of younger, newer employees but also help those older workers approaching retirement adapt to new technology.

  4. Doubling down on personalized care: Solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. Shannon advises companies to think about how to leverage AI and customized care plans. For example, can employees search for and find mental health providers that match their unique needs? “That’s where that personalization comes in, which ultimately leads to better results [and] increased engagement,” Shannon says. 

Bridging the gap

Many companies now have less to spend on wellness programs — but still need them. 

“It’s definitely a difficult challenge,” Shannon says. “So one thing we do is think about solutions that will meet the needs of the most employees.” Lifestyle spending accounts are a current hot topic, and one way of addressing different employees’ needs is by using platforms that carry different wallets or accounts. This kind of solution is perfect for employers with zero programs because they’re a blank slate.

Other wellness and fitness platforms in the space are opening up mindfulness, meditation and stress management services — hitting both physical and emotional health goals. “Think about how you can maximize and get more from the programs that you already have in place,” Shannon suggests.

Reframing the value of wellness

Demonstrating the ROI of wellness initiatives to leadership isn’t easy. While everyone intuitively knows that taking care of people is good for the company, the tangible business value of these programs matters. Shannon recommends three ways for employers to justify wellness programs:

  1. Decreased medical care costs: One traditional way to measure ROI is by reducing employee medical care costs through the prevention of health problems. Companies might look to metrics like musculoskeletal (MSK) and mental health and maternity here. 

  2. Increased employee engagement: Some companies prefer to use wellness programs to adapt and enhance company culture. “A fitness platform, for example, can bring people together by creating shared challenges,” Shannon says.

  3. Talent attraction and retention: Corporate acquisitions and high-level executive recruitment might be a lot smoother when candidates who are used to — and ask for — rich benefits, like mental health sessions and generous childcare, actually get them. “That’s how they’re making decisions whether to accept an offer or to stay at a company,” Shannon highlights. 

Key Changes From Past Years

What’s new in workplace well-being? The 2024 trends differ from previous years in two primary ways.

1. A pullback on rich benefits

During the height of the pandemic and as late as 2021, cost-based decisions weren’t as big of a factor for organizations as they are now. “Employers were spending a lot of money on benefits to just take care of people in this new world,” Shannon explains. Some rich benefits included up to 25 mental health sessions per year and generous childcare. 

But times have changed. “We’re unfortunately seeing some pullback on those,” Shannon says. CFOs in particular are looking at the bottom line and the impact of very rich benefits. Sequoia works with a number of high-growth tech companies burdened with hiring freezes and layoffs. More for less is the new mantra.

2. From on-site to remote to hybrid

A common misconception is that now we’re through the pandemic era, the remote work model is dead. But that’s not quite accurate.

“We’re seeing a strategic push to try to bring employees back — in a hybrid way,” Shannon says. Employers now discuss in-person flu shot clinics, on-site biometric screenings and dental services. “The key is structuring meetings as meaningful and valuable for employees coming into the office,” Shannon notes. That means ensuring large team meetings happen on days most employees are in and one-on-ones happen when both manager and employee are in.

Sequoia itself has employees in the office two days a week. Shannon says that being back in the office is incredibly valuable, especially from a cross-functional standpoint, since it sparks chance encounters that would feel awkward or unnatural in the digital sphere. “That’s something I’ve found cannot be replaced virtually,” she points out.

Create a Holistic Well-Being Program

When Sequoia starts working with clients, they first establish what programs clients already have in place to pinpoint where they’re most heavily invested and any gaps. Sequoia looks at demographics, trends and top players in each space as well as organizational goals to inform recommendations.

Shannon advises HR leaders just getting started to do two things: 

  • Gather feedback from employees. Learn their needs and what’s meaningful to them through surveys, focus groups or informal conversations.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Many employees aren’t as engaged in programs as employers hope, which is when structured, strategic communication is critical. 

Thoughtful well-being programs can ultimately make the difference between disengaged and high-performing employees. Want to attract and retain talent? Focus on the well-being of your workforce.



This article is based on an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast by Bright Breaks, the platform that boosts workplace wellness seven minutes at a time. Want more insights on HR strategies for a happy, healthy and connected workforce in a work-from-home world? Subscribe to the Virtual Vibe podcast, and tune in wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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