My List0

We've now made it easier for you to research and save your favorite keynotes speakers. Click on the + sign to add a speaker to your Speaker List and email your favorites to colleagues and friends.

Rethinking Wellness Culture in the Workplace with Petra Velzeboer

Samantha Huntley
Thursday, Feb 22, 2024
Book Now

The business world is rapidly evolving, and with it, the understanding and prioritization of mental health in the workplace. Petra Velzeboer, a renowned future of work and wellbeing expert, TEDx speaker, and CEO of a mental health consultancy, stands at the forefront of this transformation. Her unique approach, shaped by her own life experiences and professional expertise, offers a fresh perspective on workplace wellness. After growing up in a cult, leaving the cult as a young adult, and studying psychology, Velzeboer knows the intricacies of power dynamics that show up in the workplace better than anyone else. 

2024162161055Petra-Headshot-Web.png (28 KB)Velzeboer challenges the conventional ideas of mental health in the workplace by emphasizing the importance of organizations promoting positive mental health rather than focusing efforts on intervention after there’s been a mental health crisis. Velzeboer envisions a world where individuals not only survive but thrive and work itself becomes a positive contributor to mental wellbeing. As Velzeboer puts it, “What if work was good for your mental health, not something you had to recover from afterward?”

The 80/20 Rule: Redefining the Paradigm

At the core of Velzeboer’s philosophy is the 80/20 rule in which 80% of internal branding and programming about wellness and mental health should revolve around promoting good mental health, and only 20% should be focused on how to address mental illness. This paradigm shift helps to empower individuals to explore what good mental health looks like, emphasizing aspects of thriving and excelling rather than perpetuating a focus on struggle and crisis. While providing guidance for those who are struggling is undeniably crucial, Velzeboer urges companies to refocus and create an environment where less of that is needed.

Pay attention to your Narrative, Language and Imagery

As part of the 80/20 rule, Velzeboer urges organizations to scrutinize their employee journey concerning wellness and mental health programs. Take a look at the photos, language, and messaging used in your programs. If the narrative is dominated by the portrayal of struggle, it may result in minimal engagement, as individuals may be reluctant to associate themselves with a narrative centered around crisis. 

Acknowledging not everyone identifies with the image of despair, especially high-functioning individuals, is vital in crafting a mental health strategy that applies to everyone and promotes a proactive and positive mental health culture. 

The Future of Work: A Collaborative Responsibility

In a world often characterized by stress and uncertainty in the workplace, Velzeboer emphasizes the importance of a joint effort between individuals and organizations to establish a wellness culture. This collaborative approach ensures that employees feel safe, supported, and valued, leading to a more content and healthy workforce. Involving employees in the development of workplace wellness plans is crucial. Giving staff a voice in these discussions not only aids in the effective adoption of these programs but also fosters trust and a sense of ownership among all members of the organization.

Individual Responsibility

Much of Velzeboer's work is centered around empowering individuals to actively manage their mental health. She advocates for personal responsibility in mental wellbeing, urging individuals to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, maintain a clear work-life boundary, and partake in activities that positively impact their mental health. While organizations play a role in offering supportive programs, Velzeboer emphasizes that it is ultimately up to each person to integrate these practices into their daily lives.

From a leadership perspective, small and consistent changes in team engagement can have a significant impact. Leaders are encouraged to foster positive mental states within their teams by initiating conversations focused on gratitude and accomplishments. Questions like "What's one thing that's going well for you?" and "What are you grateful for today?" can shift focus to the positive aspects of life. This approach not only enhances individual wellbeing but also contributes to a healthier and more positive workplace culture, aligning with the company’s broader wellness goals.

Organizational Responsibility

In addition to individual responsibility, organizations must take an active role in creating a mentally healthy workplace culture. Velzeboer highlights the importance of organizational decision-makers implementing policies and practices that prioritize a holistic approach to employee wellness, addressing both mental and physical health while promoting a supportive and inclusive work environment. Some program offerings can include:

  • Mental Health and Education: Access to counseling services, stress management seminars, resilience training, and inviting guest speakers to talk about mental health.
  • Work-Life Balance: Allowing flexible work arrangements, telecommuting options, and policies that facilitate a healthy balance between professional and personal life. Involving the individual to be a part of creating their own schedule can empower and motivate, as well as promote a better work-life balance.
  • Physical Wellbeing: Offering fitness programs, ergonomic workspaces, and regular health screenings. Healthcare packages are important in creating a healthy team, as well as attracting top talent. 
  • Personal Development: Encouraging mindfulness workshops, personal growth seminars, and activities aimed at enhancing self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Embracing Daily Bravery 

Another key element in Velzeboer's approach is the urge for leadership to focus on bravery in the workplace. This involves creating a workplace culture where individuals are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, take risks, and express their authentic selves. The cumulative effect of these small acts of bravery can have a transformative impact on individual and collective mental health. By fostering an environment that values courage and authenticity, companies can contribute to a positive and supportive workplace culture. This model of leadership is integral to creating a work culture that values mental health and nurtures employee potential. 

The workplace, as envisioned by Velzeboer, can become a space where individuals thrive, and the very nature of work contributes positively to mental wellbeing. As organizations navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, Velzeboer's unique perspective can offer a glimpse into a brighter future. She calls to move beyond crisis management and cultivate a culture that fosters continuous wellbeing and excellence. By embracing daily bravery, acknowledging the cumulative impact of small positive actions, and empowering individuals, companies can contribute to a positive and sustainable future where work itself becomes a catalyst for mental health and personal growth.


Leave a Comment

Recent Posts


Inspirational Speakers Leading the Charg . . .

Friday, April 12, 2024

Navigating Change at Work: A Culture App . . .

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Inspiring Creativity and Innovation: The . . .

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Sign up for our Email Newsletter



Everyone on the ESB team has been great to work with for our events. Looking forward to keep working with ESB!

Plexus Worldwide

We had a positive experience with ESB. Matt Meyer is a great communicator and easy to get a hold of. His helped us through the process to mak..


ESB was patient, thorough, and responsive during the planning process. Thank you for making this such a great experience for us!


ESB supported our needs and the needs of our speaker throughout the entire process. I highly recommend working with ESB to find your next spe..


"It's always a pleasure to work with ESB. Very professional and personable staff. Thanks!"

Testimonial | Texas Society of Architects

"Excellent! Thank you for being a true partner to our organization and its development."

HCA Healthcare

"They are the only speakers bureau I will even consider using!"

Testimonial | Youth Villages

A wonderful bureau to work with! Big ups to everyone who helped make our event a success. Fingers crossed we get the chance to collaborate fo..

MDRT | Testimonial

"As always, you are the best most responsive speaker bureau I've ever worked with!"

Image Media

Angela Schelp was a great partner in finding the right kick-off speaker for our conference. This was my first conference identifying the keyn..

Need Suggestions? Have Questions?

Need Suggestions? Have Questions?

Call to discuss how we can you help find the right speaker(s) for your organization.

© 2024 Executive Speakers Bureau. All Rights Reserved.

Design and Developed by eBiz Solutions

Get Ideas in 1 hour or less

Executive Speakers Bureau consistently receives praises about our speed and efficiency. From the beginning of your event planning, our extensive online speaker database and resourceful staff allow us to quickly equip you with the best speaker for your event.

Need a last minute speaker? No worries. Our speed and efficiency help us give you ideas for speakers in one hour or less.

Please fill in information below