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The Rise of Human-Centric Leadership

Why today's leaders are created at the intersection of mind, body & spirit.

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Jan 17, 2024
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Last updated on Nov 20, 2023

The workplace has significantly evolved over the past 120 years through the lens of wellbeing. With a closer look there are clear parallels between broader social movements, and the resulting wellbeing (mind-body-spirit) policies & initiatives workplaces focus on. The Front Goose Workplace Wellbeing analysis paints a human-centric future, what we call ‘wellbeing inspired leadership.’ Let’s explore why. 

In the early 1900’s, Employers were mostly concerned with keeping employees alive – quite literally. Safety issues were a major concern in heavy manufacturing and losing a finger, arm, or worse were common. Therefore, calling this period the era of ‘Physical & Financial Safety’ seems apropos. It’s during this time that matters of life and death spurred federal legislation that still protects employees today such as the Federal Compensation Act in 1916 which provided benefits to workers who were injured on the job or contracted illnesses in the workplace, and the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), passed in 1938, which standardized the 4o hour work week and mandated overtime pay, minimum wages, and child labor laws, as well as the rise of Collective Bargaining & Unions to further protect worker rights. You can think of this time-period as the time Employers worked to meet people’s basic wellbeing needs. 

The 1950’s-1970’s is the Era of ‘Civil Rights & Increased Standard of Care.’ This period exemplified a continued and increased focus on employee safety, inclusive of environmental hazards, and a recognition that men & women and people of different color should be treated equally. As more women entered the workforce the federal government passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and The Civil Rights Act of 1964 which made it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, & national origin. Also, later in this era there was the first focus on Mental Health with the passage of OSHA in 1970 and the rise of EAPs in the late 1970s. During this time period, society and Employers started to recognize that wellbeing was more than just physical safety, it included psychological safety as well. 

The 1980’s: affectionately called the Era of “Work-Life Efficiency is when Employers clearly connected physical and mental health with productivity. And what Company doesn’t want better and more productivity?!  For instance, even though the US Surgeon General linked smoking to cancer in 1964 it wasn’t until the 1980s that smoking cessation programs, health fairs & screenings were offered by Corporations. It took some time, but Employers finally realized that by investing in their employees’ health, they would reap the benefits through lower absenteeism, lower healthcare claims, and increased productivity. 

Progression: Employers realized that caring for their employees resulted in positive business returns! 

This time marks the first signs of basic human-centric leadership in corporate America. 

Give me more of that, please! Employers scrambled to get some more of ‘that’ and started offering fitness reimbursements, on-site fitness centers, and concierge services (on-site dry cleaning, day-care centers, and cafeterias) all in the attempt to increase health & reduce stress. And then of course, there was the famous Blackberry. Don’t be mistaken though, this may have been disguised as ‘we care about you (Employee),’ but really this was ‘We care about us (Employer). Now we’ve got you tied to us 24-7.’ 

2000-2020, marked further social progress, a time-period called the Era of ‘Social Responsibility,’ because it wasn’t so much federal legislation and/or productivity impacting Corporate decisions, but the recognition that it was the ‘right thing’ to do! The parallels between societal demands and corporate initiatives are clear. With women clearly having earned a place in middle and senior management, flexible work policies increased in popularity to help working parents. Later in this period we were moved by the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Me-too’ movements that gained front and center stage with the rise of various social media platforms. Competitive companies acted and addressed these social concerns with DEI training, ERGs, Paternity Benefits and more Financial Education. 

So where does this leave us now as we head into 2024?

The tides continue to shift, and the world is screaming for a more kind, loving, and compassionate society. We are calling this critical period the Era of ‘Human-Centric Leadership.’ This is a crucial time in our country’s history, if not world history. The world is on fire with political fighting and scandals infiltrating every nook and cranny, countries at war due to leaders with no morals, and people are yearning to follow someone, anyone, that is grounded in genuine wellbeing. Leadership grounded in wellbeing is found at the healthy intersection of the whole person: mind-body-spirit. Society is crying out for an increased focus on Spirit. 

It is only here, at the healthy intersection of mind-body-spirit, that we are in touch with all that is good, understand we are all connected, and generate heart-felt authenticity in every thought, word, and deed.

The world is screaming for human-centric leadership or wellbeing inspired leadership that is authentically grounded in mind-body-spirit. And as history has shown, the workplace will follow. 

  Want to create wellbeing enhanced leadership among your teams? Reach out to Megan and the Front Goose team.

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