Apr 11, 2024

Amplifying Employee Wellness in People Operations

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    Amplifying Employee Wellness in People Operations



    New Priorities in People Operations for 2024

    During our last HR in Half an Hour: Putting Your People First webinar we unpacked a lot in 30 minutes. We want to take this opportunity to expand on few areas where employer action can have the most impact, turning your business into an “engine of employee wellness.”

    We know that employers have great influence over their employee wellness. Here is a step-by-step plan of action you can take to move the needle from being “somewhat confident” to an advocate of workplace wellness.


    Step 1 – Determine Your Company Strategy

    First and foremost, you need to define your goals and identify your agents of change—the key players in the process. Then, note who will be participating in the project team and their associated responsibilities to manage program aspects and expectations. After that, categorize your employees into three groups, Thriving, Struggling, and Suffering, using the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. Finally, work on building consensus in your organization. You can accomplish this by developing employee company survey (refer to Step 2 for more details).

    The Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale graphic


    Step 2 – Needs Assessment

    With the five dimensions of well-being in mind (Physical, Social, Career, Financial, and Community), design a self-anchoring survey framework that captures your employees’ subjective well-being along two contexts: their current and future life. Keep it short and to the point with what you are asking. Examples of questions to ask could be:

    Imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you.

    1. On which step of the ladder would you say you stand at this time? (ladder-present)
    2. On which step do you think you will stand about five years from now? (ladder-future).

    (Reference: Understanding How Gallup Uses the Cantril Scale)

    Be aware that if you plan to ask several questions, the order of your questions can have impact on the responses you collect so pay careful attention here (i.e. the contextual effects). Be concise on how you want to set the tone of the survey. Ask straightforward, non-sensitive questions first and if you need to dig deeper, plan those prompts for the end of your survey.

    Checkpoint: Once you conduct your survey and start to review the responses, be aware of the demographic variables (trending) that may be apparent within the company that may impact employee well-bring which could include, but are not limited to, age, sex/gender, marital status, family type, household size, geographical information, income level, race, etc.


    STEP 3 – Planning & Design: Where are the Opportunities?

    Remember the employee life cycle? If not, here is a quick refresher. The employee life cycle is a roadmap behind every experience your employees will encounter during their career with your company. Within each step, there are opportunities for you, the employer, to impact employee well-being.

    lifecycle model graphic

    Then layer the Employee Life Cycle stage with the US Surgeon Generals Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-being (i.e. Protection from Harm, Connection & Community, Work-Life Harmony, Mattering at Work and Opportunities for Growth) to identify and create the wellness opportunities your employees are wishing for.

    • ATTRACT, HIRE & ONBOARD: Clearly communicate company values and commitment to employee well-being during the recruitment process. Provide information about how the company supports employee wellness and benefits offered. Ensure a timely but comprehensive onboarding process that leaves the employee feeling like a true part of the team and not stuck on an island, left to their own devices to feel like an inclusive member of the business.
    • ENGAGE
      • Work Environment: Foster a supportive and inclusive work environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their well-being (aka psychological safety). Implement ergonomic workspace designs to promote physical health and encourage breaks and provide areas for relaxation or mindfulness activities. This can work to build an engaging workforce with a company culture overlay. When employees feel safe, welcomed, and appreciated you can bet you will benefit from their commitment to your business.
      • Benefits and Perks: Offer competitive benefits packages that include healthcare, mental health resources, and wellness services programs (don’t be afraid to get creative). Provide flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, to support work-life balance (autonomy).
    • PERFORM: Conduct regular check-ins to discuss workload, stress levels, and overall well-being. Recognize and reward employees for achievements and contributions to their well-being initiatives. Sometime a pat on the back isn’t enough. Action here needs to be authentic.
    • DEVELOP:
      • Training and Development: Offer training on stress management, resilience building, and work-life balance. Provide opportunities for professional development and skill enhancement, which can contribute to job satisfaction and well-being.
      • Career Transitions: Support employees during career transitions with resources for job changes, promotions, or relocations. Provide outplacement services and support for employees leaving the company to ensure a smooth transition and minimize stress. (This can also lower post-employment ligation.)
    • OFFBOARD: Conduct exit interviews to gather feedback on employee experiences, including well-being initiatives. Offer support and resources for employees transitioning out of the company, including assistance with healthcare continuation and job search support.

    These are just some actions a business can use in their organization. Be intentional and authentic with the actions you take at each step in the employee lifecycle, which demonstrates their commitment to employee well-being and create a positive and supportive work environment.

    By integrating these practices into everyday business operations, organizations can create a culture that values and supports employee well-being, leading to increased morale, productivity, and overall satisfaction.


    STEP 4 – Shaping Company Culture (Company Execution)

    Incorporating wellness into everyday business operations involves integrating practices and initiatives that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being into the daily routine. Here are some strategies:

    1. Promote Healthy Habits: Encourage regular breaks, hydration, and healthy eating habits by providing nutritious snacks or organizing wellness challenges.
    2. Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexible work hours or remote work options to support work-life balance and reduce stress associated with commuting.
    3. Wellness Activities: Incorporate wellness activities into the workday, such as yoga sessions, mindfulness exercises, or walking meetings.
    4. Support Mental Health: Provide access to mental health resources, such as counseling services, stress management workshops, or mindfulness apps.
    5. Physical Environment: Create a workspace that promotes well-being, with ergonomic furniture, natural light, and designated areas for relaxation or exercise.
    6. Lead by Example: Encourage leaders and managers to prioritize their own well-being and model healthy behaviors for their teams.
    7. Communication and Feedback: Foster open communication about well-being initiatives and encourage feedback from employees to continuously improve wellness programs.
    8. Recognition and Rewards: Recognize and reward employees who prioritize their well-being or participate in wellness activities, reinforcing the importance of self-care.


    STEP 5 – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

    Effective communication is essential to a program’s success. Develop a plan that accounts for all program levels and team members to ensure it will manage expectations, company dynamics, reduce likeliness of conflicts and program shortcomings. Here are some examples of communication approaches to take:

    • Program Phase Kick Offs – These meeting will be required at the beginning of each phase in the program planning/implementation phases to review project expectations, task requirements, team assignments, process/program change, quality and assurance checks and overall program updates.
    • Team Briefings – These communications are essential to ensure your program is meeting expectations and that all program deliverables/outcomes are being met.
    • Staff Forums – These meetings are intended to include employees when program would be unveiled.
    • Face-to-Face (formal and informal) – Done on an as needed basis by all program members.
    • Individual and Group Stakeholder Meetings – Conducted by upper Program Team and Stakeholders to ensure program execution is on budget and schedule. All program modifications or change requests could result from these meetings.
    • Awareness Campaigning – During the final stages of project, your communication team should develop official announcements of the new program and what employee can expect and when.


    STEP 6 – Reinforcement and Continuous Improvement

    Create a plan to continuously collect employee feedback and preferences, this can be accomplished in number of ways. Employee surveys can be a great tactic to implement and manage and the cadency needs to depend on your company compacity. Clearly define the goals and objectives of the program and make sure everyone understands what success looks like and make it a regular practice to reinforce and inform all employees of your program and incentives. Should challenges present itself, be willing to pivot. Employee preferences change over time so be prepared and vet out other resources to have at the ready when that change presents itself.



    You’re Not Alone

    We offer countless resources including but not limited to sample policies, forms, and templates, that will help you achieve your management tasks while ensuring your due diligence and compliance.

    If you missed our last HR in Half Hour session, be sure to visit HR in Half Hour: Putting People First where you can find our recording, additional resources and download the presentation slide deck.




    Things to Watch: Pay is more than a paycheck

    Last year, CA unleashed a new Pay Transparency statute that has created fear among California employers, and I know of plenty organizations that do not wish to disclose salaries or even go there. The push for pay transparency impacts both small and large organizations so little to no business is immune to the requirements to create an ecosystem that is fair and transparent. Those that do not practice a consistent pay strategy, those that make on-the-fly decisions triggered by an employee who asks for a raise with little to no historical record to defer to and or those that lack a formal process/structure to explain how and why compensation decisions occur will pay the price. Whatever the reason, having a total lack of transparency can hinder a company’s well-being to both attract and retain employees. In other words, ignorance isn’t bliss.

    What is the business case?

    • Fairness and Equity: Transparent pay practices ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work. It helps prevent pay discrimination based on factors like gender, race, or age, fostering a more equitable work environment.
    • Employee Trust and Morale: When employees understand how their pay is determined and see that it aligns with their contributions and the company’s standards, they are more likely to trust their employers and feel valued. This can lead to higher morale and increased employee engagement.
    • Retention and Recruitment: Transparent pay practices can attract top talent by demonstrating that the company values fairness and openness. Additionally, employees are more likely to stay with a company where they feel their compensation is fair and competitive.
    • Performance Management: Clear pay structures can serve as an incentive for employees to improve their performance and advance within the organization. Knowing how their pay is tied to their performance can motivate employees to strive for excellence.

    Numbers are your friend: Create transparent compensation systems and objective metrics around recruitment, performance, advancement, and compensation to help ensure consistency and transparency. Pay transparency promotes a positive organizational culture built on trust, fairness, and accountability, which can contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of a business (an equitable ecosystem).


    What actions have the best results?

    • Clear Compensation Policies: Establishing clear and consistent compensation policies that outline how pay is determined based on factors such as job responsibilities, skills, experience, and performance.
    • Salary Bands or Ranges: Implementing salary bands or ranges for different roles within the organization provide employees with a clear understanding of the potential earning opportunities based on their position and level of experience.
    • Regular Communication: Communicating openly and regularly with employees about how pay decisions are made, including factors considered in determining compensation, such as performance evaluations, market rates, and company financial health.
    • Performance Reviews: Incorporating performance reviews and feedback sessions into the compensation process to ensure that pay increases and bonuses are tied to employees’ contributions and achievements.
    • Transparency Tools: Utilizing technology and tools that provide employees with access to information about pay scales, salary benchmarks, and performance metrics, empowering them to make informed decisions about their career and compensation.
    • Pay Equity Audits: Conducting regular pay equity audits to identify and address any disparities in compensation based on gender, race, or other protected characteristics, ensuring fairness and compliance with legal requirements.
    • Employee Input: Soliciting feedback from employees through surveys, focus groups, or other channels to understand their perceptions of pay fairness and transparency and incorporating their input into decision-making processes.

    Tough conversations will happen. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

    When a wage disparity presents itself, remember this playbook of actions that can be taken to address the issue:

    1. Conduct a Thorough Analysis: Investigate the factors contributing to the wage disparity, including differences in roles, responsibilities, experience, and performance evaluations.
    2. Awareness of Unconscious Bias: Train managers and HR personnel to recognize and mitigate unconscious bias in the hiring and compensation processes to ensure fairness and equity.
    3. Implement Pay Equity Measures: Regularly review compensation practices and policies to identify and address any systemic biases or disparities in pay based on gender, race, or other protected characteristics.
    4. Adjust Compensation: If disparities are identified, take steps to rectify the situation by adjusting compensation to ensure that employees are paid fairly for their contributions, skills, and experience.
    5. Communicate Transparently: Communicate openly and transparently with employees about the actions being taken to address wage disparities, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to fairness and equity.
    6. Review Promotion and Advancement Opportunities: Evaluate opportunities for career advancement and development to ensure that all employees have equal access to growth opportunities and are not disadvantaged by systemic barriers.
    7. Monitor and Evaluate Progress: Continuously monitor and evaluate progress in addressing wage disparities, tracking key metrics and indicators to assess the effectiveness of interventions and initiatives.
    8. Engage with Employees: Solicit feedback from employees about their perceptions of pay fairness and equity and involve them in the process of identifying solutions and implementing changes.
    9. Legal Compliance: Ensure that all actions are taken to address wage disparities and that they comply with relevant laws and regulations governing pay equity and non-discrimination.

    By taking proactive measures to address wage disparities, businesses can foster a culture of fairness, equity, and inclusivity, which can contribute to employee satisfaction, retention, and overall organizational success, a win-win for all involved.

    Found this resource helpful and want more? If the answer is yes – you’re in luck! This standalone resource is produced on a monthly basis (excluding months we host HR in Half Hour) and was developed to deliver HR best practices using a three-pronged approach: HR Insights, Tools & Resources, and Forecasting What’s to Come to better equip clients with the tools and resources they need when faced with various HR challenges, which in turn, should produce more proactive and positive outcomes.

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