Editor’s note: Veteran entrepreneur and investor Donald Thompson writes a weekly column about management and leadership as well as diversity and other important issues for WRAL TechWire. His columns are published on Wednesdays. Thompson of The Diversity Movement was named an Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 Southeast Award winner.

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Senior leaders must be able to balance empathy and economics if they want to create workplace excellence internally and build brand reputation externally. And, while few executives would view well-being as a new initiative, its importance has increased with the move toward inclusive leadership. 

Well-being also shows no sign of slowing down as an essential facet of creating strong teams and powerful organizations ready to compete and win in the global economy. Actually, recent studies reveal that well-being goes beyond being the “proper” thing to do. Instead, creating healthy workplaces is a fundamental driver of business success that is measurable and linked to bottom line results. 

Raleigh merger, global reach: Workplace Options acquires The Diversity Movement, adding DEI to offerings

At The Diversity Movement, we believe in well-being as the essence of the everyday experience of employees so much that we have agreed to be acquired by Raleigh-based Workplace Options, the largest independent provider of bespoke well-being and mental health solutions for more than 79 million people around the world. As Alan King, President and CEO of WPO, explains. “We are committed to empowering people to be their authentic selves. WPO and TDM are aligned in our vision to make a transformative difference through innovation, technology and a human-centric approach to holistic health.”


TDM has long advocated inclusive leadership, which has well-being at its core. Recent studies have shown the “real-world” business benefits of this viewpoint. For example, McKinsey Health Institute surveyed people across 30 countries and found “employees who had positive work experiences reported better holistic health, are more innovative at work and have improved job performance.”

“Enabling a healthy workforce is no longer a luxury, but rather a strategic imperative for organizations to navigate turbulent times in an ever more complex society,” says Jacqueline Brassey, co-leader of the McKinsey Health Institute, a non-profit-generating entity within the firm that aspires to catalyze action to add 45 billion years of higher-quality life for all people around the world. “To seize the opportunities presented by employee health and well-being, employers must recognize their role. By agreeing to create workplaces where employees can thrive, organizations can prioritize holistic health as an important outcome that potentially aligns with an organization’s broader environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework.” 

In other words, as senior leaders we must take an active and hands-on approach to creating well-being initiatives and place even greater emphasis on creating thriving workplaces. Executives who recognize the central role of well-being will lead teams that are unified, more collaborative and work with heightened innovation. Their organizations will thrive, not just in profit, but in employee engagement and societal impact.

According to Grace Ueng, CEO of Savvy Growth, “The journey from diversity to inclusion and then to belonging is critical. Ensuring everyone feels at home in their roles is much harder than just getting them into that position, and belonging is the place where the most progress can be made out in the world.”

Donald Thompson


Like Alan King, Grace Ueng, and other forward-thinking leaders, I advocate well-being because it is the correct step to take for employees as individuals, but also the right thing to do financially. When employees feel physically, mentally and emotionally supported, they are more engaged in their work, and the numbers speak for themselves. With nearly 6 in 10 global workers being disengaged, low engagement costs our global economy a staggering $8 trillion.

The benefits of well-being lead to:

  1. Stronger Teams: Well-being fosters unity and promotes a sense of belonging and mutual respect, creating a cohesive workforce. When employees feel seen, valued and cared for, they are more likely to collaborate and provide assistance when needed. The equation is straightforward – great teams make great companies.
  2. Increased Collaboration: A workplace that prioritizes well-being is one where collaboration and innovation flourish. Mentally and physically healthy individuals are more inclined to engage in productive teamwork and motivate their colleagues. These collaborative efforts lead to enhanced innovation and problem-solving.
  3. Innovation Unleashed: Employee well-being paves the way for innovation. A healthy, content and balanced workforce is more receptive to new ideas, with their creative capacities primed for breakthroughs. Well-being initiatives often encourage continuous learning and adaptation, fertile ground for innovation to thrive.
  4. Revenue Generation: The ultimate measure of an organization’s success is financial performance. Increasingly, well-being will be linked directly to revenue generation. Engaged employees tend to perform better, leading to increased productivity and substantial revenue growth.

We see the tangible benefits of improving well-being, from the psychological safety generated by employee resource groups (ERGs) to the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that are enabling people to bring their full selves to the workplace. 

From this perspective, tying DEI more intimately to well-being is like the natural evolution of diversity-led programming. This is the future of workplace excellence and why WPO’s acquisition of TDM is sure to help millions of people enjoy a deeper sense of belonging. “It’s a unique opportunity to combine our shared focus on well-being and the value inherent in integrating diversity, equity and inclusion into the everyday work experience,” King says. “It’s a holistic approach that will lead to enhanced productivity, retention, and a greater sense of belonging.”

There is a clear call to action for senior leaders centered on well-being: Take the steps necessary to transform your workplace so employees thrive, not just in their roles, but physically, mentally and socially. Embrace this effort and your organization will benefit. Building a workplace powered by well-being isn’t just good for your employees, it’s establishing a foundation built for success. 

About the Author 

Donald Thompson, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Southeast Award winner, founded The Diversity Movement to change the world. As TDM CEO, he has guided work with hundreds of clients and through millions of data touch points. TDM’s global recognition centers on tying DEI initiatives to business objectives. Recognized by Inc., Fast Company and Forbes, Thompson is author of Underestimated: A CEO’s Unlikely Path to Success, hosts the podcast “High Octane Leadership in an Empathetic World” and has published widely on leadership and the executive mindset. As a leadership and executive coach, Thompson has created a culture-centric ethos for winning in the marketplace by balancing empathy and economics. 

Follow him on LinkedIn for updates on news, events and his podcast, or contact him at info@donaldthompson.com for executive coaching, speaking engagements or DEI-related content. To further explore DEI content and issues impacting your work and life, visit TDM Library, a multimedia resource hub that gives leaders a trusted source of DEI content.