Arianna Huffington’s Advice on Employee Culture & Thriving in the Workplace

A look back at some of her most memorable advice

Arianna Huffington is a renowned author, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post – and she also happens to be a keynote speaker at Zenefits’ September 21st event, SHIFT: The Culture Conference. In preparation for her exciting talk, we’re taking a look back at some of her most memorable advice on employee culture and thriving in the workplace.

On creating work-life balance:

“More and more companies are realizing that the well-being of their bottom line is connected to the well-being of their employees. So they’re creating workplaces where people can thrive and succeed without burning out.”

“The best employees are going to have the most options, so to increase your chances of getting them, you have to offer them a workplace culture that will let them bring their whole selves to work and succeed without burning out. Because if you don’t, another company will, and that’s who will get the best employees.” [Business Insider]

Wellbeing is not a soft benefit – it’s a necessity. It’s not just an HR discussion, it’s a profit discussion. And companies that understand this and embrace the new science will win the future.” [HRM Online]

On implementing a successful workplace wellness program:

“Even the best wellness plans won’t be maximized if there’s not buy-in from senior management to change the incentive structure. If HR is saying one thing, but senior management is still incentivizing burnout culture, we know which message most employees will listen to. So along with great plans to prioritize well-being, companies need the culture shift to be modeled at the top, so it’s those employees who prioritize their well-being who are celebrated and promoted instead of those burning themselves out.” [Workforce]

Ready to implement a workplace wellness program with impact? Check out our free eBook, Your Ultimate Guide to Workplace Wellness Programs.

On avoiding burnout:

“Ninety nine percent of the time it’s not urgent and to create a culture where you are constantly plugged in and expected to be always-on is to create a culture of a burnout.”

Creating the culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity. This is something that needs to be taught in business schools. This mentality needs to be introduced as a leadership and performance-enhancing tool.” [Forbes]

“It’s one of the delusions that drives modern workplaces, especially here in the Valley — that burnout is necessary for growth and success. That’s why it was important to lose ‘always on’ and ‘working ­longer’ from the cultural values, especially given that we now have the data that proves conclusively that being always on and working longer, far from enhancing performance, lead to terrible consequences.” [The Washington Post]

On multitasking:

“We think that multitasking makes us efficient, but neuroscientists say it is one of the most stressful things we can do. I have made a decision in meetings that devices are not allowed… New technology has allowed us to communicate with thousands but we have lost the ability to really connect with those around us and close to us.” [HRM Online]

Related: How Company Culture is Directly Linked to Employee Productivity

On making the most of vacation time:

“Our phones and devices can summon us — and our attention — whenever and wherever. But that defeats the whole purpose of vacation. If you’re simply moving your job from an office tower to somewhere sandier, that’s no vacation at all.

“Senior leaders and executives who care about their company’s long-term performance and success need to make it clear that vacation — real vacation — is encouraged, and they need to model it themselves. They can start by making it clear that they’re not available, not reading emails, and not even enabling emails to pile up in their inbox while on vacation.” [Harvard Business Review]

On women supporting women in the workplace:

Even though we are in the middle of a culture shift, with the role of men at home dramatically changing, at the moment there are far too many ways in which women’s needs fall through the cracks — like needing to leave early for a sick child, or being tired after being up all night with a newborn. These are opportunities in which women can support each other, until we get to a place where women no longer feel like they have to choose between their life at work and their life outside work.”

At the moment the status quo in far too many companies assumes that the only way to signal your dedication is to give your attention to work 24/7 — and that’s actually a backdoor way of excluding women, or at least diminishing their contributions. Another important way for women to help each other at work is to encourage them to know their value and stand up and speak out for what they want.” [The Huffington Post]

Related: 5 Signs Your Company Culture is Superficial

On embracing failure:

“My career, and I would say the careers of most people I know, has not been linear.”

“I remember when my second book in my 20s was rejected by 36 publishers — by which time I was tempted to change professions — I went and got a loan from a bank and kept going.”

I think our resilience is dramatically improved when we trust that often out of the biggest heartbreaks come the best things in our lives.” [Business Insider]

“Someday you’re going to cofound something called a website, and it is going to come alive to mixed reviews, including some very negative ones. When this happens, remember what mom told you: ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success.’ And don’t hold grudges against those reviewers, or anyone—it’s one of the most draining things you can do. Indeed, as Carrie Fisher said, ‘Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.'” [Marie Claire]

On the importance of sleep:

“The irony is that a lot of people forego sleep in the name of productivity. But in fact our productivity is reduced substantially when we’re sleep deprived.”

“Yet the myth persists that we can do our jobs just as well on four or five or six hours of sleep as we can on seven or eight. Just as we wouldn’t eat off dirty dishes, why would we settle for going through the day with anything less than the full power and potential of our brains?” [Fast Company]

“If there is one thing that makes it for me now, no longer a matter of discipline, but just a magnet that draws me to get my eight hours a night is the fact that I can’t stand myself now when I’m sleep deprived. I can’t stand the person I become. I’m not really fully present, more reactive, more moody, much easier to be affected by things going wrong. All the things I don’t like, I display and there’s nothing I can do about it.” [The Huffington Post]

Well-Being, Health and Wellness, Work Culture

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