Arianna Huffington has long been on a mission to redefine success. In a now famous story , the co-founder of news site HuffPost passed out one morning, eventually waking up in a pool of her own blood. The cause, as her doctors later informed her, wasn’t a brain tumor or other medical malady. After regularly working 18-hour days and hardly sleeping, she was profoundly exhausted.

That wake-up call inspired her to launch Thrive , a behavior change technology company that works with corporations to reduce employee burnout. Now, the rest of the world has finally caught up with her: the pandemic and subsequent Great Reshuffle have spurred a mass re-evaluation of how we work, why we work, and what’s really important in life.

Forty-seven percent of people worldwide said they are more likely to put their family and personal life over work than they were before the pandemic, according to Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index report , and 53 percent say they’re now more likely to prioritize their health and wellbeing over work. “I very much hope that we use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring about these fundamental changes in the way we work, in the way we live, that we needed even before the pandemic,” Huffington says. “As the Stanford economist [Paul Romer] said , ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’ So, let’s make sure we don’t waste it.”

Huffington recently joined the WorkLab podcast to explore how leaders can make the most of this moment to change ingrained habits. Here, she shares her advice for how to thrive amid new employee expectations, reshaped priorities, and a radically altered work landscape.

1. Use crisis as a catalyst.

“I’ve had friends who have been through traumatic experiences like cancer or losing a loved one, and they’ll often say, ‘I’m never going to be the same. I will live my life differently. I will prioritize different things.’ And then six months later, it’s like they forget it, and they’re back where they were before. It’s going to take some work and intentionality to make sure we don’t revert to our old ways.”

2. A good employee experience isn’t “nice to have.” It’s vital to the bottom line.

Employee experience has often been seen as “warm and fuzzy,” Huffington says. “It’s been seen as a ‘nice to have’ HR benefit. Now, the employee experience has moved to the center of business priorities because we are seeing the connection to business metrics like attrition, like recruitment, like productivity, and like healthcare costs.” That’s why Microsoft is partnering with Huffington to bring Thrive’s behavior change content into Viva, our employee experience platform.

“I find it amazing how many managers are still stuck in an old paradigm that you can't afford downtime. We have so much data that this is not true.”

3. You can afford downtime.

Flexible work doesn’t have to mean working all the time . “I find it amazing sometimes how many managers are still stuck in an old paradigm that you can’t afford downtime. You just have to power through exhaustion, whether you are a frontline worker or a knowledge worker. It’s the same delusion we’ve all lived through that assumes that to be successful and to be great at work you have to be available 24/7. And we have so much data that this is not true.”

4. Ask one key question of all new hires.

Huffington recommends that all new hires meet with their managers on day one for an entry interview, particularly if they’re onboarding remotely. The first question to ask: What is important for you outside of work, and how can we support you?

“The reason this matters is that we talk a lot about bringing your whole self to work, but a lot of employees don’t believe that. So, if you tell them, ‘We want to support what’s important for you outside of work,’ and if they hear that on day one from their manager, then any time they have a one-on-one, they can bring it up.” It can be anything from ‘I want to take my daughter to school every morning’ to ‘I need to care for my elderly father.’ “If I asked you that question, your answer would be a window into what matters to you or what you are struggling with.”

5. Life should always come before work.

“I’m Greek, and Greek philosophers always talked about ‘what is a good life.’ In modern times, we have reduced the definition of a good life into a successful life. And we reduced success to money and status/power.” That’s not enough, Huffington says. “That is like trying to sit on a two-legged stool. The third leg of the stool is what a lot of people now want to integrate into their lives. It involves our health and wellbeing. It involves our capacity to tap into our own wisdom and go to deeper places within ourselves. It involves our ability to experience beauty and a sense of wonder about our lives, which so often we ignore. And finally, to integrate giving into our lives. That’s a full life.”

Even a small semantic shift can help remind us of what’s really important. “It’s not work/life” balance, she insists. “It’s life/work integration.” That’s the kind of mindset, she says, that will help everyone thrive.