7 Things CEOs Can Do Today to Build A Purpose-Driven Company

7 Things CEOs Can Do Today to Build A Purpose-Driven Company

Written by: Lifeguidesnow  Written by: Mark Donohue, CEO of LifeGuides CEOs of organizations large and small know that running a business means constantly pushing forward, seeking new ways to grow and innovate. But do you ever take a step back and consider the why – the purpose behind it all? If not, maybe you should. Today, more and more organizations are turning to purpose-driven business models that strive to balance earning profits with making the world a better place. And recent studies reveal that employees, consumers, and investors care increasingly about companies’ values: A BetterUp study found that 9 of 10 workers would trade money for meaning. In a MetLife survey, 70% thought their companies should address societal problems, and 76% wanted employers to make a difference in the local community. 68% of American consumers polled by Cone Communications thought businesses should lead on social and environmental change, and 87% would buy a product or service based on a company’s social advocacy. In 2018, Socially Responsible Investments (SRIs) increased to over $6.5 trillion. A purpose-driven business model is not only better for society; it can do wonders for an organization’s success. LinkedIn’s comprehensive study found that 58% of companies with a clear purpose experienced 10%+ in growth, compared to only 42% of companies without purpose. The key is determining what values lie at the heart of your organization – determining your why – and letting them guide your company’s culture and operations.   What Does it Mean to Be “Purpose-Driven”? Raj Sisodia, co-chairman of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and author of Firms of Endearment, defines purpose-driven companies as those that: “operate by a guiding vision of service that takes into account all their primary stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, and partners in the supply chain, the communities in which they operate, and, of course, their investors.” These companies project a passion for doing good in the world and prioritize people and relationships. Take ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s. Not only is their mission rooted in social justice and environmental sustainability, but they also pay livable wages and follow fair trade practices. This passion for the greater good translates into authenticity in the eyes of stakeholders, explains Nicholas Pearce, author of The Purpose Path. Authenticity is a natural by-product of “letting our best and highest values guide how we do our work and how we behave at work,” in addition to “what work we do in the first place,” he says. This begins at the human level: the most successful purpose-driven companies treat their employees with respect and make work meaningful.   The Benefits of Purpose-Driven Business Integrating a more socially conscious, purpose-forward culture into your company can be a boon to your business in many ways, the foremost being your labor force. Studies show that values-driven organizations have happier, more engaged employees. In fact, a MetLife study found that when workplace and employee values aligned, 85% of employees expressed loyalty and 54% a willingness to go above and beyond their job description – this compared to only 44% and 4%, respectively, at companies where values did not align. And purpose becomes more important the higher up the ladder one climbs: research shows that when managers find their jobs meaningful, turnover rates drop dramatically. Socially conscious companies win over consumers and investors as well. A 2018 Christmas shopping season study found that a surprising 63% of respondents preferred to purchase gifts from brands that supported “social causes,” specifically environmental sustainability, education, and diversity/inclusion. Socially responsible investing is climbing to an all-time high as investors recognize the benefits. Even politically risky decisions, if guided by a company’s values, can have positive results. Both Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign and Dick’s Sporting Goods’ ban on assault rifles boosted share prices, mainly due to the perception of these brands as authentic and principled.   How to Build a Socially Conscious, Purpose-Driven Culture Evidence shows that purpose-driven companies are thriving in today’s business climate. But if you’re a CEO of an established company, how do you make the leap to a more socially-minded model? The following are things you can do today to put your company on a more enlightened path. 1. Before taking action, listen, learn, and educate. As Raj Sisodia explains in Firms of Endearment, purpose-driven companies thrive on relationships and community. So before evolving, gather feedback from everyone at your organization. Ask: What are your workers’ values, and what does their work mean to them? What do they see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses? What are they hearing from customers or clients? You might hold a workshop or training to help employees – particularly managers – adjust to a purpose-driven perspective. 2. Identify your values – and keep it simple. The next step is establishing a purpose that fits your existing culture. Start by identifying a value or set of values that drives your organization. KIND snack company, for example, lets the concept of kindness – right there in the name – guide all operations, from its advertising to its employee relations to its charitable work for education. A straightforward purpose like this can be easily applied throughout your organization and makes an impact on employees and consumers. 3. Connect your purpose with a cause. A purpose becomes a mission when the personal connects to the global. Once you’ve defined your company’s values, you can begin to work for the greater good through community service and nonprofit partnerships. While most companies engage in some form of philanthropy, socially conscious companies take it one step further: instead of, say, getting the staff together for an annual day at the food bank, make tackling food insecurity a central goal. Supermarket chain Food Lion took this tack with Food Lion Feeds, an initiative that serves the company’s purpose of fighting hunger through service events and food drives. 4. Set goals and track progress. Becoming a socially conscious company is not as simple as creating an “our values” page on your website – with altruism comes great responsibility. You’ll need to carefully research the social causes you support to see how your company can best address them. Establish goals that are specific and will stand the test of time, and regularly evaluate your progress. Don’t be afraid to experiment: not everything will go perfectly at the start, but building an authentic culture takes clear-eyed understanding of what works and what doesn’t. 5. Be transparent. Transparency is important for any socially conscious company looking to build trust. Sixty-seven percent of consumers in a 2018 SAP poll stated that brands must be transparent in business practices in order to prove their authenticity. Follow the example of American-made clothing companies like Everlane and Reformation, which have carved out a niche in a competitive market by being transparent about their environmental and business practices, or Whole Foods, which has gained traction with its recent GMO transparency project. 6. Prioritize meaningful work. Once you’re over the initial hump of establishing your company’s mission, resist the temptation to let your focus drift back to profit-driven mode. Truly great companies are those that continue to motivate and engage employees by making their work meaningful, day in and day out. Do this by giving employees more control and offering regular feedback, showing them the impact they’re having, and providing opportunities for growth and development. It’s also wise to schedule regular meetings designed to reinforce your organization’s mission and the role each team member plays in achieving goals. 7. Create a culture of caring. Some companies that strive to be purpose-driven make a crucial mistake: they don’t extend their vision for improving society to their own workplace culture. See the example of Google, a company that touts its support of diversity and inclusion, which faced a walkout last year as employees protested pay inequity and inadequate sexual harassment policies. But any company that considers itself socially conscious must make an effort to understand its employees’ needs and offer fair wages, benefits, and support for work/life balance. In addition to the standard benefits, socially conscious companies often go beyond to create a culture of caring. Spotify, for instance, has reduced turnover by providing six months of flexible, paid parental leave over three years. Other innovative benefits include wellness programs, flexible work schedules, and emotional support services LifeGuides, which helps employees through their Life Challenges by pairing them with a peer who has faced the same struggles.   Though it might seem intimidating to revolutionize your company culture, the advantages of a purpose-driven model are too numerous to ignore. Companies that consider the greater good, and not just profit, seem to be the way of the future – so don’t get left behind. A crucial part of improving your company’s culture of caring is being there when your employees need you most. Learn how LifeGuides can help offer confidential, and valuable support by scheduling your free consultation today.
The Difference Between Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and LifeGuides

The Difference Between Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and LifeGuides

Written by: Lifeguidesnow  Written by: Mark Donohue, CEO of LifeGuides Have you ever experienced stress at work? It’s a silly question. Of course we’ve all felt stress inside the workplace and, to an extent, it’s a necessary component of our growth and development. However, stress levels of employees have escalated so high in modern times that they are infiltrating our personal lives and damaging our health. Recent data confirms what so many of us are feeling: 76% of respondents said workplace stress "had a negative impact on their personal relationships" 66% have lost sleep due to work-related stress 16% have quit jobs because stress became too overwhelming Employers have traditionally offered Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to address employees’ work and life stressors, but only with some success. According to this discouraging data, there is significant room for improvement. LifeGuides was created to fill this gap. LifeGuides is an online platform that connects employees who are facing Life Challenges to Guides who have been in their situation and have made it through stronger. It taps into humanity’s most valuable resource, our Life Experience, to help them through life’s most difficult and distracting times. It’s a complement, not necessarily a replacement, for the support provided by traditional EAPs. Still, they can be easily confused when spoken in the same breath. Let’s breakdown the difference between these two valuable services.   Who provides the service? EAPs Finding the right support through your EAP at work often involves a multi-step process. Companies may require requests for support to be directed at internal HR departments or customer service lines. After understanding your situation, this first line of service will then route you to the appropriate professional service. These professionals are typically licensed professionals who have been clinically trained, but may or may not have directly experienced the same challenge the requesting employee is facing. LifeGuides Online or over the phone, LifeGuides matches employees with a trained and experienced Guide who has experienced the same Life Challenge the requesting employee is facing. This service is handled outside of internal HR departments. Employees can either match with a Guide on their own online, or speak with a LifeGuides Well-Being Concierge to complete the process. Guides are diverse people from all walks of life. Their goal is to forge one-on-one relationships with employees to walk with them on their journey and provide a safe space support.   What Life Challenges do they cover? EAPs EAPs generally address a broad swath of issues affecting an employee’s mental and emotional well-being. These issues can therapy sessions, grief counseling, family trouble, bankruptcy, and substance use disorder. LifeGuides Employees who use LifeGuides can speak with a Guide who has experienced a specific Life Challenge, and the challenges covered are virtually limitless. Life Challenges can include support for natural disaster loss, divorce, caring for a loved one, and more. A Well-Being Concierge learns about the employees situation and matches him/her with a Guide who has been through the same experience.   Support for urgent matters? EAPs EAPs are generally used as a reactive, urgent approach for an immediate need. They are typically footed in providing solutions-based strategies, not necessarily long-term relationships, to help employees cope. LifeGuides LifeGuides is not a crisis hotline. It centers on a proactive, empathy based approach to help employees navigate Life Challenges. Because many of these challenges do not have a “solution,” participants are invited to share their experiences, learn coping strategies, and find strength in their challenge.   Are they confidential? EAPs Because requests to use EAPs are typically funneled through HR departments, there is a perceived risk of confidentiality breach by seeking help. This fear is one driving factor behind Big contributing factor behind EAPs 5% average usage rate. LifeGuides LifeGuides reduces the burden on HR departments by operating autonomously or in partnership with the company. This allows complete confidentiality between employee and employer. LifeGuides does not share any personal information.   What is the cost structure for employers? EAPs EAP services are usually 100% paid by the employer, and pricing is PEPM. Typically, they are made available to all employees, immediate family members and unrelated people living in their home. A typical program provides 6-8 counseling sessions and an unlimited number of telephonic sessions.   LifeGuides Pricing is available either PEPM, or charged solely on usage. What is the cost structure for employees?   EAPs The copay for EAPs varies based on the service provided and insurance coverage, but most offer 6 advisory sessions free. LifeGuides There is no employee copay until over 12 Guide sessions have been completed. Any additional sessions are affordable and do not require insurance approval.   What are the service limitations? EAPs EAPs handle referrals to suidice lines, addiction centers, therapists, legal counsel for a bankruptcy and the like. Additionally, employees only have access to the services, therapists, etc. that are covered under the EAP’s premium. LifeGuides LifeGuides does not handle suicidal participants (only their families), or provide direct mental health counseling, legal/tax services, or any service that requires licensure. EAPs serve an important role in supporting employees through difficult times. But in today’s climate, with rising stress levels, diminishing social connection, and rampant disngagement, LifeGuides fills an arguably even more important need. Both LifeGuides and EAPs are important services to offer your employees to show them you care about their well-being. They’re equally important for recruiting as well as productivity, but greater than that, they are helping us create more enjoyable, purpose-driven experiences at work. Ready to bolster your Culture of Caring? Schedule a time to talk with our VP to learn more about how LifeGuides can unlock your employees’ full potential.
9 Employee Benefits Offered by the World’s Top Companies

9 Employee Benefits Offered by the World’s Top Companies

Written by: Lifeguidesnow  Written by: Mark Donohue, CEO of LifeGuides There was a time when employee benefits were fairly straightforward. Even at leading corporations, perks rarely went beyond the standard medical, dental and 401k package. But as we’re seeing, that time is over. Today, forward-thinking employers are offering workers everything from office nap pods to desk-side acupuncture. And perhaps surprisingly, they’re doing it with the bottom line in mind. While these perks may be called “employee benefits,” in reality, corporations are seeing the reward, too. A recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that when employee benefits improve, so do companies. Employers who offered competitive, strategic benefits experienced significant increases in overall company performance, recruitment success and employee retention. “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace,” says Douglas R. Conant, former president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. In the face of Campbell’s declining market value and mass layoffs, Conant led a successful turnaround while focusing on improving corporate culture. Last year, Campbell completed construction on a state-of-the-art childcare facility at the company’s Camden, New Jersey headquarters, proving that above-and-beyond benefits aren’t limited to Silicon Valley. Campbell’s success story isn’t fiction, and it isn’t an exception. Here are 10 other benefits that savvy companies are offering in a bid to attract talent, retain valued workers, and increase profits.   Wellness Benefits These days, wellness benefits go far beyond subsidized gym memberships. Of companies that reported improving their benefits packages, 44% boosted their wellness offerings with perks such as on-site yoga, meditation and workout classes, found one SHRM survey. Twitter, known for its generous employee benefits, even offers office acupuncture. Being proactive about the mental and physical health of employees pays off. Work-related stress is the leading workplace health problem. Meanwhile, overweight and obese employees miss about 450 million more days of work each year than healthy workers, reports the CDC. Productivity losses from missed work cost employers $225.8 billion—or $1,685 per employee—each year.   Parental Leave Hoping to retain Millennial parents, top companies offer paid time off to both men and women following the arrival of a child. Most tech companies offer generous paternal leave, but Netflix leads the pack with one fully paid year to moms and dads. Cisco even offers grandparents three extra days off to spend time with new grandchildren. Families benefit, and so do companies. A study by researchers at Boston College found paid parental leave improved employee commitment, increased skills among workers covering for new parents and reduced healthcare costs for both mothers and babies.   Pet-Friendly Policies Some companies are offering benefits with the entire family in mind—pets included. Amazon encourages employees to bring their dogs to work, meaning up to 6,000 pups may be lounging around the company’s Seattle headquarters on any given day. “They make employees smile, and we’re proud this is such a uniquely Amazonian tradition. It’s truly ingrained in our company culture,” explains Lara Hirschfield, Amazon’s “Woof Pack” Manager. Companies such as Ticketmaster and Urban Outfitters even offer subsidized pet insurance.   Career Training & Leadership Programs Recruiting for high-level positions is expensive and time consuming. Which is why increasingly, companies are investing in the futures of their employees by offering career training and leadership programs. At AT&T University, employees can pursue web development, data analytics and entrepreneurship credentials. Amazon’s Career Choice Program offers hourly associates up to $12,000 to pursue certificates and associates degrees in fields as diverse as aircraft mechanics and nursing. “We offer training paths that could very likely lead to opportunities and careers outside of Amazon, but we think if we can help people realize their dreams, we want to be a part of it,” said Steven Johnson, global leader for the Career Choice program.   Creative Paid Time Off Vacation time and sick days are expected. But some companies are offering more creative paid time off to distinguish themselves from the average workplace. Each year, employees at retailer REI receive two “Yay Days” to spend in the great outdoors. Vermont-based snowboarding brand Burton takes a similar stance. While many companies expect employees to log in from home on snow days, Burton supplies workers with season ski passes and encourages them to hit the slopes. When an employee takes a day off, everyone benefits. Research shows that employees who use paid vacation time are more productive and happier with their jobs, reducing costly turnover.   Flex Time Study after study has shown that employees with flexible schedules are happier, enjoy a better work-life balance and are more loyal to their companies. Google’s famously laid-back culture allows for plenty of flex time. Employees can report to the office—where meals are free and ping-pong tables are plentiful—or work from home. “Clocking in” is all but unheard of at the tech giant, which is worth upwards of $750 billion and regularly ranks among the best companies to work for.   Financial Counseling Increasingly, employers are offering money-management benefits—such as programs on retirement planning, student loan management, and home purchasing—to complement the standard 401k plan. By empowering employees beyond their paychecks, organizations inspire more loyalty and even increase productivity, found a survey by SHRM.   Nap Pods Napping on the job is usually frowned upon. But some companies are leaning in to our midday grogginess, even providing employees with designated napping areas. At Google, employees can snooze in EnergyPods, futuristic bubbles featuring zero-gravity beds, sleep-inducing music and calming lights. Huffington Post’s headquarters features two napping rooms—appropriately named Napquest I and Napquest II—where staffers can recharge. While it seems counterintuitive, sleeping on the clock may actually boost productivity. When it comes to improving memory, motor skills and perceptual learning, studies have found that naps are more effective than caffeine.   Life Challenge Support Employees have lives outside the office—and sometimes, those lives can be challenging. Stressful events like divorce, grieving, financial trouble or caring for an elderly loved one can impact both an employee’s mental health and job performance. According to research by the World Health Organization, stress can lead to significant decreases in productivity, increased healthcare costs, and high turnover rates. Although Life Challenges are inevitable, companies can assist employees during difficult times by offering compassionate, highly trained peer support. Peer support programs pair individuals experiencing hardships with others who have navigated similar situations, and the results are impressive. Numerous studies have shown that peer support can increase self-esteem, improve outlook and empower people to make important choices.   The Future of Employee Benefits In today’s job market, a competitive benefits package is essential to attract and retain top talent. But it’s not simply employees who benefit from pet-friendly offices and generous flex time. When companies invest in the health and happiness of employees and their families, the bottom line enjoys a boost, as well.   Perhaps the last word is best left to the one and only Richard Branson. An early adopter of the importance of company culture, he has long prioritized employee wellbeing at the Virgin Group. "Clients do not come first,” once said Branson. “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients." Sometimes, to get the most out of employees, all it takes is changing your perspective.
The War for Talent and How to Win It

The War for Talent and How to Win It

Written by: Lifeguidesnow  Written by: Mark Donohue, CEO of LifeGuides Your company deserves the best and brightest employees out there. However, now more than ever, you have to fight to win them. The U.S. jobs report for April 2019 revealed that unemployment has now dropped to 3.6% – the lowest rate since 1969. While this is good news for job seekers, for employers it means an even tighter labor market in which it’s becoming harder to attract and retain top talent. According to a 2018 survey conducted by ManpowerGroup: 40% of nearly 40,000 employers surveyed were “struggling to fill roles” Employers listed skilled trades workers, engineers, and sales reps as hardest to hire 46% of U.S. employers reported talent shortages in 2018 compared to 32% in 2015 A Korn Ferry study projected that by 2030, there will be a global talent shortage of more than 85 million people It is a War for Talent, and it’s one of the biggest issues facing corporations in 2019 and beyond. As the president of Global Industrial Markets practice for Korn Ferry explained, “Organizations must make talent strategy a key priority and take steps now to educate, train, and upskill their existing workforces.” To ensure a competitive future, companies would also be wise to improve their onboarding, benefits, and overall employee experience.   A Changing Workforce While a tight labor market is one cause of employer retention and recruitment problems, it’s not the only factor. Many businesses have struggled to meet the needs of a changing workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more people are postponing retirement, and the fastest-growing age demographic is 65 and older. Meanwhile, millennials and Gen Z are entering the workforce in larger numbers. These generations are more diverse and better educated than their predecessors, have less job experience, and prioritize issues like workplace flexibility and social conscience. Another factor in the talent shortage is the growing discrepancy between the skills employers want and the skills applicants have to offer, known as the “skills gap.” A 2019 Society for Human Resources Management survey found that: 83% of HR professionals had difficulty recruiting suitable job candidates in the past year 75% of this group blamed a skills gap for the lack of qualified applicants 52% said the skills gap has worsened over the past two years A McKinsey & Company survey likewise revealed that nearly 60% of American employers found job candidates unprepared for entry-level jobs. This skills gap, the report argues, “represents a massive pool of untapped talent, and it has dire consequences, including economic underperformance, social unrest, and individual despair.”   Winning the War for Talent The talent shortage is clearly a problem that demands attention. Businesses who ignore the issue risk losing revenue and falling behind the competition. Luckily, there are plenty of proactive strategies organizations can take now to adapt to this new reality.   Design an inspiring onboarding experience. One way to attract talent in today’s market is to make a positive impression at the start. Some corporations are investing in orientation programs that foster community and loyalty, and provide training to bridge that initial skills gap. In one standout example, Deloitte has created an onboarding experience they call “Deloitte University.” New employees gather at a luxury campus in Ft. Worth, Texas for a program of classes taught by company leaders, networking events, and community-building. And it’s not simply for rookies – many Deloitte employees return for a refresher course after a promotion or career milestone.   Provide employees with formal, ongoing training. Formal employee training is non-negotiable in the war for talent. A comprehensive training and professional development program can tackle the skills gap while engaging workers and strengthening relationships. Studies have shown that the most successful trainings are conducted in-person and designed to be accommodating and accessible. One proven approach for new employees is the “boot camp” model, used by companies like Facebook. But ongoing training for current employees is also crucial – particularly as workplace demographics change. In a 2018 survey, 50% of millennials considered continuous learning opportunities “very important,” with 80% preferring “professional development or formal training.” In order to adapt to evolving technology, aging workers deserve regular training, too. Companies facing a skills gap crisis might even follow the example of industry leader AT&T, which is retraining its entire workforce in partnership with Georgia Tech University.   Enrich overall employee experience. Retention is key in the war for talent, as recruiting the best people is meaningless if you can’t keep them around. Sadly, Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace report found that only 33% of employees were “engaged” at work, with 51% actively job hunting. The first step in engaging employees is listening – soliciting regular employee feedback and promptly addressing issues. Other proven retention strategies include creating educational and leadership opportunities, setting challenges, and establishing a clear mission and set of goals. The latter is especially important today. Not only do companies with a purposeful mission have higher growth and retention rates, but also surveys of millennials and Gen Z show that they prefer organizations guided by socially responsible principles.   Improve health benefits and promote wellness. Many organizations don’t place enough emphasis on employee health, but research shows that it’s a worthy investment. Aging workers will need increasing support, and companies with solid benefits packages covering mental and physical health will appeal to job candidates. Many leading companies have also established wellness programs, which include everything from meditation and yoga classes to free healthy foods and fitness facilities to employee challenges and outings. Some organizations are also addressing burnout, which impacts productivity and drives down engagement, by mandating a strict 40-hour workweek or banning work email after hours.   Create a culture of flexibility and caring. To attract the most talented employees, many companies need to make big changes to their workplace culture. Younger generations consistently name flexibility as one of their top priorities, which means managers should consider less rigid work schedules, remote work opportunities, more vacation and personal time, and, perhaps most importantly, stronger support for families. Studies have shown that the main reason female participation in the U.S. labor force lags behind that of countries like Canada is the lack of affordable childcare and adequate parental leave. Substantial parental leave for new mothers and fathers and discounted or on-site childcare (offered by industry leaders like Patagonia) allows these valued employees to maintain their salary and relationship with the company, thus increasing loyalty. But it doesn’t stop there. Job candidates are now looking for companies that truly care about their employees and support them in their time of need. Many face financial difficulties, health challenges, or other personal issues that increase stress and impact job performance. For example, a mentoring system like LifeGuides, which matches an employee to a peer who has dealt with a similar Life Challenge, offers employees the care and support they need to manage work-life balance, and unlock their full potential at work. While the war for talent certainly presents a challenge, it is also an opportunity. By incorporating these changes, your organization will not only improve recruitment, it will become a more dynamic, stimulating, and caring environment for all employees, present and future.   Learn more about the specific value of investing in your employees here.
Forbes Article: Retain Your Employees & Make Them More Productive By Adopting A Village Worldview

Forbes Article: Retain Your Employees & Make Them More Productive By Adopting A Village Worldview

Written by: Lifeguidesnow      Written by Mark Donohue, CEO & Founder of LifeGuides and Featured on Forbes.com How would your productivity change if you were caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease or going through a divorce? While you might be physically present at work, you’d probably be less effective. Each year, we lose an estimated 57.5 days per employee to presenteeism, when they come to work while suffering illness, grief or stress, according to a Virgin Pulse report. In the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom combined, companies lose an estimated $1,500 billion a year as a result, making presenteeism 10 times more costly than absenteeism. When our ancestors lived in villages, they faced challenges together. Today, we are less likely to know our neighbors or have a support community. We need to get back to a village perspective and values, beginning with where we spend much of our lives: the workplace. This encourages companies to support employees through life challenges and create a culture of caring, which can reduce presenteeism and strengthen retention, focus and creativity. Here is what employers should keep in mind.   1. Unseen issues can have a visible impact. Presenteeism can stem from challenges ranging from caring for a loved one to facing unexpected expenses. Though seemingly unrelated to work, they drain employees’ energy, vitality and creativity, which impacts your bottom line. Employees are our most important stakeholders. If they’re unhappy, customers notice. Yet the workplace intensifies these problems, with 80% of workers saying they feel stress on the job, according to the American Institute of Stress. We must support employees to counterbalance normal work-related stress.   2. Perks don’t create culture. Culture is a huge driver of success. It’s especially important for attracting and retaining employees, a top concern among business leaders in the face of today’s disruption and talent shortage. While innovative benefits like onsite cafeterias and modern office spaces can improve employees’ quality of life at work, they don’t define culture or address the issues behind presenteeism. Impactful culture is more than fancy perks; it shifts organizational behavior and thinking. Ask yourself: Do your leaders care for their team? Are employees fulfilled, engaged and inspired? Do they support and challenge one another?   3. Purpose should be your North Star. Motivating employees around a common purpose raises engagement, unifies teams and builds resilience, according to a Global Leadership Forecast. After all, corporations are fundamentally communities unified under a shared capitalist purpose. Those with a compelling purpose statement outperform others by over 40%. When employees feel they have an important and appreciated role in manifesting that purpose, satisfaction and motivation increase. Purpose serves as a North Star when things get tough. Beyond organizational purpose, help employees identify their own purpose by training them on topics like self-awareness, creativity and personal growth. Community service projects also give employees purpose and fulfillment and strengthen intercompany relationships.   4. Walk your talk. When leaders weave purpose into their decisions and behavior, company financial performance jumps by 42%, according to a Global Leadership Forecast report. Actions speak louder than words. Walk the factory floor and listen to employees. Incorporate personal check-ins into staff meetings. It can be difficult to ask for help, which is why psychological safety is key in cultures that mimic the village mentality. Leadership must show vulnerability so employees have permission to do the same. Don’t penalize employees for sharing personal issues, and don’t force them to either. This creates trust and loyalty.   5. The sharing economy offers more than just products. Peer-to-peer education is an emerging megatrend. With an inadequate support system, challenges are overwhelming. Our ancestors had regular access to wisdom from their elders and neighbors — and we can recreate that. The sharing economy that brought us products like Uber and Airbnb can also connect us to others with relevant knowledge and skills via platforms that share life wisdom and experience. Recreate this village mentality with a mentoring or peer-support program, which can build a sense of empowerment, control and hope — and even decrease hospital admissions. Develop community by hosting team-building and appreciation events. Celebrate those who embody the company’s values and reward cultural impact.   6. Technology can create connection. Technology can help facilitate connections. For example, sites like MicroMentor connect you to business mentors, and there are numerous online therapy and talk therapy providers. Sites like Perks at Work and Zestful offer employee discounts on everything from health to travel to educational purchases. Taking advantage of tools like these can improve culture and life efficiency.   7. Health insurance isn’t enough. The best health assistance programs offer assessments, education and mental health coverage. Insurance often covers only diagnosable medical conditions; so supplement it with benefits like mindfulness training. Offer coaches to help with life transitions, fitness and nutrition, yet a coaching benefit can be pricey. Cognitive assessments and training can teach employees to notice when they or a co-worker need support. To reduce stress, give employees autonomy over where and when they work. Some companies, like the Motley Fool, offer unlimited sick and vacation days. Others adhere to 40-hour work weeks to avoid burnout or allow dogs in the office to reduce stress. Consider expanding parental leave and offering childcare support as well. Employers can learn more at human resources conferences, like the Perks Convention, which we sponsor, that showcase perks beyond basic benefits. Similarly, events like Culture Summit teach actionable tips to leaders to improve their employees’ work experiences.   8. Soft skills are the secret sauce. Fewer than 40 percent of employees say their employer provides sufficient resources to help manage their stress, according to an American Psychological Association report. Offer training on soft skills like time and stress management, problem-solving, teamwork and communicating with empathy. Soft skills training increases productivity, which is one of the reasons this is a priority for talent development teams today. Peer-to-peer education and guidance can help your team be more resilient.   9. Focus on financial support. More than half of employees suffer from financial stress, and nearly half spend at least three hours a week considering or dealing with resulting issues at work. Provide financial education and advisors who can help them understand and use their benefits. Half of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 expense. Consider offering a resource like PayActiv, which gives employees early access to paychecks they’ve earned. This reduces the cost of overdraft fees for any employees living paycheck to paycheck.   10. Notice the signs of life challenges. To truly address presenteeism, connect with employees so you can spot changes in their behavior. Pay attention if someone seems fatigued, starts arriving late or leaving early, or becomes less engaged or productive. Wise leaders don’t just evaluate outputs; they listen and understand their team.   11. It’s an investment, not an expense. Before taking action, survey your team to understand their challenges and what would be meaningful to them. Then continuously reassess how you can best support each other. After all, it takes a village. The World Health Organization’s Health and Work Performance Questionnaire helps measure the returns on investments in employee well-being. Don’t look at employee well-being as a cost; consider it an investment in the health and productivity of your business. Dare to do more and lead with deeper wisdom, as we did in villages in the days of old.  
The Real Value of Investing in Wellness Programs for Employees

The Real Value of Investing in Wellness Programs for Employees

Written by: Lifeguidesnow  Written by: Mark Donohue, CEO of LifeGuides Everyone knows you can’t work with the flu. Instead, you take time off and return to the office when you’re healthy and able to perform your job. But what about less acute problems? Do life’s persistent, and often unavoidable challenges – caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, dealing with divorce, the loss of a pet to name a few – also impact our performance at work? Do we carry the weight of stress caused outside of work with us into the office? The answer is not surprisingly, “yes.” Research has consistently shown that stress, mental health disorders and trauma significantly impact job performance. In a revealing study by Cigna, 62% of workers reported being less productive on days they came to work distracted by personal matters. And that’s just one telling example of the enormous impact Life Challenges have on the workforce.   How Can Employers Help? While a few sick days may suffice for the flu, it takes more compassion and empathy to ensure a holistic employee wellness. To start, ask why your employees are “sick.” Is it really a health issue, or a well-being, life balance issue fueled by stress? The good news is that many corporations are stepping up the plate and prioritizing employee well-being. In a bid to attract, retain and nurture top talent, organizations are increasingly investing in employee health and wellness programs. Today, 9 in 10 companies offer at least one wellness initiative, according to a recent study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. The programs have been shown to offer: Improved employee health habits Reduced healthcare costs Improved productivity Fewer missed work days Here are a few examples of some of the most effective programs leading employers are offering today.   Yoga, Meditation, and Mindfulness Programs In the past, perks like office yoga studios and meditation rooms were rare outside of Silicon Valley. But they’re becoming more mainstream as employers realize that healthier employees mean healthier bottom lines. A study by Ohio State University researchers found that guided workplace meditation and yoga lowered feelings of chronic stress—which is closely related to chronic disease—in employees by more than 10%. These employees reported feeling less distracted during the day, as well as enjoying better sleep at night. When Aetna noticed that highly stressed workers were costing their business an additional $2,000 a year per employee, the company launched a yoga and mediation initiative to promote better team wellness. The results? Employees experienced lower resting heart rates and increased productivity—and Aetna reduced its benefits costs by 7%. Similarly, although “mindfulness” has become a bit of a wellness buzzword, science has long supported its benefits, and leading employers are beginning to make it available to their teams. One of the most famous mindfulness programs Search Inside Yourself began as an internal program for Google employees interested in exploring workplace mindfulness. Wildly successful on campus, it evolved into an independent nonprofit that works with corporations around the world. The results are impressive, and illustrate the connection between stress, happiness and productivity: Participants report less emotional drain, with a 36% reduction in stress levels after completing the program. 64% of participants experienced a greater ability to focus and be more productive. Participants felt more prepared to lead, with 67% reporting a better ability to remain calm during challenges Mentorship Programs Formalized mentorship programs can be valuable in helping employees make lifelong connections and experience less job-related stress. Women and minority professionals especially value mentor relationships, according to a recent survey on corporate culture. Of those surveyed, 30% of women and 27% of minorities said their mentorship was “extremely important.” With turnover rates higher for underrepresented groups, retaining and nurturing top talent is essential. Five years after Coca-Cola instituted a mentorship program to increase corporate diversity, 80% of participants had advanced at least one step on the management ladder, and representation of African-Americans in salaried positions and leadership roles increased significantly.   Peer-to-Peer Connections It’s unsurprising that mentoring brings about positive change in the workplace. Studies have shown that peer support has the power to increase self-esteem and confidence, reduce stress and empower people to make life-changing decisions. Human connections, as it seems, are as essential as ever in the modern era. Just as corporations offer internal peer programs, they have an opportunity to assist employees outside the workplace. By offering qualified, trained peer support to employees experiencing life challenges, companies can enhance their organization’s culture of caring, increase productivity among workers and reduce healthcare costs. A 2018 study following individuals who used peer-staffed crisis centers found that those who accessed the services experienced lower hospitalization rates. Additionally, the one-on-one connection of peer support has been shown to: Improve quality of life Holistically improve health and reduce the incidence of chronic illness Increase engagement with complementary services and supportive care   The Takeaway for Employers “I’m not interested in bringing Buddhism to Google,” Search Inside Yourself co-founder Chade-Meng Tan explained in his 2014 book. “I am interested in helping people at Google find the key to happiness.” While the pursuit of happiness has traditionally been a personal endeavor, corporations are realizing that what’s good for the individual is good for the team. In supporting employees experiencing Life Challenges, companies can create a holistic culture of wellness. As they say, health is wealth. Schedule a demo with our VP today to learn more how LifeGuides can help your company enhance its authentic Culture of Caring.
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