What Holistic Investments in Employee Well-Being Look Like

Chicago tech companies have revised their perks and benefits packages and are normalizing talking about mental health at work.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on May. 23, 2022
What Holistic Investments in Employee Well-Being Look Like
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Stress and burnout existed before the Covid-19 pandemic. Being a parent and working full-time was already difficult before tech companies made the sudden switch to remote work as a result of lockdown orders. Finding time to stop working and focus on what matters most — life outside the office — is a struggle no matter what state the world is in. And yet, March 2020 and the months following served as a much-needed wake up call on such issues to many employers. 

A 2019 survey conducted by Mind Share Partners, SAP and Qualtrics found that less than half of respondents felt that mental health was prioritized at their company. Sixty percent of workers who experienced symptoms related to mental health conditions didn’t talk about their conditions at work. Tellingly, 86 percent of respondents said a company’s culture should support mental health.

The good news is that those 86 percent of people are being heard loud and clear today. Companies have doubled down on employee wellness, with a specific focus on well-being in all its forms, including mental health. Talking about mental health in the workplace is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Employee assistance plans have become table stakes as companies realize team members shouldn’t check financial, emotional and mental health stressors at the door when entering the office, virtual or otherwise.

Dealing with stress and burnout and finding ways to maintain a positive work-life balance will remain challenges for as long as people are working. What has changed is the way companies discuss, address and manage these challenges.

 

Black and white photo of OppFi team members at an all hands meeting
OppFi

 

Leila El-Badawi
Lead, Employee Benefits and Wellbeing • OppFi

 

OppFi is a fintech company that provides loans to consumers who are unable to access traditional lines of credit.

 

What are some of the key ways OppFi invests in the well-being of your employees? 

We prioritize and elevate a holistic approach to supporting our employees focused on mental health and well-being. We have consistently offered an employee assistance program but realized that wasn’t enough. In 2022 we added Modern Health, a mental wellness platform that makes it simple to access personalized care for life’s ups and downs. Services include one-on-one sessions with certified coaches and licensed clinical therapists, group support sessions, guided meditation and more. Modern Health aids us in better understanding the overall well-being of our employees through anonymous check-ins, enabling us to offer customized programming.

We recently implemented wellness days, which are planned days for intentional self-care. It’s often easier to prioritize time off for vacations, however, it’s just as important to take time off to intentionally care for your own well-being. Through wellness days, employees are empowered to proactively prioritize their well-being by taking one self care day each month, in addition to regular time off.

Employees are empowered to proactively prioritize their well-being by taking one self care day each month.”

 

How has OppFi adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

We continue to expand our benefits and perks package to focus on employee well-being and “whole person” initiatives by addressing each facet of well-being: mental, financial, physical, professional and social. We already offer services like Enrich, a financial education and tuition reimbursement program, as well as a LinkedIn Learning subscription to foster professional development. We’re building on those offerings, such as by partnering with LinkedIn to create a “Manager Mental Health 101” learning pathway to further support our people leaders and anyone managing a direct report. We also offer Fringe, a lifestyle benefit platform that allows us to subsidize a number of services, including childcare, other family support services and therapy. Modern Health has enabled us to provide more holistic resources through their vast network of therapists and coaches who can provide one-on-one support to address each pillar of well-being.

 

 

Two iManage team members holding succulent terrariums
iManage

 

Amy Nordness
Chief People Officer • iManage

 

Companies use iManage’s artificial intelligence-powered document and email management technology to enable teams to work more efficiently.

 

What are some of the key ways iManage invests in the well-being of your employees? 

We are constantly adding new programs and benefits to invest in the well-being and happiness of our people. We strive to provide a robust set of offerings that support our diverse employees of varying backgrounds, needs and life stages. 

In addition to wellness days off — inclusive of spot bonuses to fund each employee’s unique way of recharging and resetting — we offer unlimited paid sick leave and a flexible work environment. Whether in the office or working remotely, we foster personal connections and a culture of support through tools such as Slack, Zoom and Donut. Our employee assistance program offers immediate support for employees and up to five free counseling sessions on demand. To further support wellness we offer all employees the Healthy Minds app, which features guided meditation, wellness webinars and other tools to support mental health.

A recent update to our parental leave policy extends the amount of paid leave offered to all employees welcoming a new family member.”

 

How has iManage adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

We have expanded our benefits offerings to include HealthJoy, a healthcare concierge service that takes the stress out of health insurance and helps employees make the most of our benefits offerings! Our “Run-iManage” group brings together our global teams by promoting walking, running, cycling and generally getting outside and benefitting from fresh air. To support our employees working from home, we’ve held multiple global webinar sessions on topics including mindfulness, chair yoga and ergonomics. These sessions encourage our employees to step away from their desks during the day and take the mental and physical breaks they need. 

A recent update to our parental leave policy extends the amount of paid leave offered to all employees welcoming a new family member, be it through birth, adoption, fostering or otherwise. To provide even more support to those growing their families we have added pregnancy loss and unsuccessful adoption to our bereavement policy to ensure that employees have enough time to mentally and emotionally heal before returning to work.

 

 

Two Bounteous team members sitting on a couch in the office having a 1 on 1
Bounteous

 

Melinda Ramos
VP of Learning & Diversity • Bounteous

 

Bounteous is a digital product development company whose clients include Domino’s Canada, Coca-Cola and Wawa.

 

What are some of the key ways Bounteous invests in the well-being of its employees? 

We’ve developed a number of programs to support mental well-being, such as our employee resource group, “b: mindful,” which has the goal of destigmatizing mental health in the workplace. We also offer virtual yoga classes, mindfulness and meditation workshops, short cooking lessons and virtual kid-friendly events aimed at keeping little ones occupied while parents’ do what they need to. We offer a feedback and engagement tool that allows team members to share real-time feedback, suggestions or simply vent. Our take-what-you-need PTO policy continues to be a highlight for our team members, too.

Healthy minds and bodies are paramount to the success of our business.”

 

How has Bounteous adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

We’ve learned that healthy minds and bodies are paramount to the success of our business. We are proactively improving wellness and addressing Zoom fatigue and burnout with a new pilot program called Quiet Hours, a four-hour block of time for uninterrupted focus. 

Bounteous also offers a no-cost employee assistance program that provides mental health counseling, financial planning assistance and many other services. In 2021, we partnered with an employee advocacy service to assist our team members with the challenges of insurance bureaucracy. In addition, we added a well-being service that provides a variety of discounted work-from-home services from vendors in the fitness, entertainment and cuisine spaces.

 

 

Kelli Koschmann
Chief People Officer • Showpad

 

Showpad’s sales enablement platform is used by Honeywell, Xerox, Sitecore and other companies to train sellers and make it easier to access the collateral needed to close deals.

 

What are some of the key ways Showpad invests in the well-being of its employees?

We equip our managers with the resources and knowledge to support employees in difficult times. In fact, I owe a massive amount of credit to Showpad’s mental well-being committee. They are passionate individuals who share facts and resources to help destigmatize mental health and promote discussions around well-being. 

In addition, we offer a free subscription to the Calm app, provide access to expert workshops, think yoga and a sleep coach; have meeting-free “Focus Fridays” and our benefits cover an employee assistance program and mental well-being support, because mental health is health. We encourage all employees to take time off for themselves to recharge whenever needed, have holiday shutdowns and offer some summer Fridays and empower employees to unplug following any life events.

Showpad looks at all company initiatives through a mental health lens.”

 

How has Showpad adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

We aim to provide a wide variety of well-being solutions and are always evolving our offerings to meet employee needs. Following recent traumatic events, we have begun providing employees with the option to join listening circles hosted by trained counselors. Some heal best when getting the chance to share or listen with others, and these conversations help open the door to more conversations around mental health and wellness. This past year we also worked with Inclusivv to host engaging and informal conversations around topics related to mental health, inclusivity and allyship.

Showpad looks at all company initiatives through a mental health lens. We partnered with the MW Committee to launch future of work resources to navigate hybrid ways of working. This year, in Q2, we’re providing adaptivity and resiliency training for the entire organization, with managers receiving additional training to ensure they’re leading effectively today.

 

 

The Marketing Store photo collage with one team member doing yoga, another hiking and one on a boat with her child
The Marketing Store

 

Jen Dilillo
North America HR ROC Lead • tms

 

The Marketing Store is a customer engagement agency that helps brands connect with consumers via contests, games, in-store experiences and more.

 

What are some of the key ways The Marketing Store invests in the well-being of your employees? 

We provide a robust employee assistance program through LifeWorks, which includes free counseling sessions for employees and household family members, articles and resources to support mental, physical, social and financial well-being, a discounted perks program for further savings and webinars, and videos and podcasts on a variety of topics.

Additionally, our wellness platform, Vitality, features an incentive-based program that rewards employees for making healthy choices. They accumulate points by pairing a fitness device to count steps, gym trips or at-home workouts, participating in company-wide challenges or partaking in preventative annual care. Points can be cashed in for gift cards, fitness trackers and wellness devices, or charity funds. If employees reach enough points by the end of the year, they receive a discount on medical premiums for the upcoming year. 

We also prioritize keeping well-being top of mind. Through our always-on health and wellness internal chat channel, employees can follow along and participate as our HR team posts about various topics, resources and wellness challenges.

Employee well-being is always top of mind.”

 

How has The Marketing Store adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

We have increasingly encouraged flexible scheduling to promote work-life balance and empower our people. For example, we’re piloting “flex Fridays” in North America where we remove non-business critical meetings and let employees use that time how they please, whether that’s taking a walk, getting in a midday workout or starting the weekend early! In response to Covid-19, we also introduced the Chill Anywhere app, offering live and on-demand meditation, yoga and mindfulness sessions, as well as providing a discounted ClassPass membership. At the height of Covid-19 we gave employees days off to focus on their mental health. 

Employee well-being is always top of mind, and we do our best to highlight resources and promote initiatives that raise awareness. During past Mental Health Awareness Months we hosted company-wide meditation and yoga sessions, a “healthy selfie” photo challenge, nutrition-based bingo, “take a break” calendar holds, a webinar on overcoming burnout and more. We look forward to hosting similar initiatives this year.

 

 

Lisa Matuszek
Director, People Success & Total Rewards • Rival Formerly SilkRoad Technology

 

Silkroad’s HR technology provides a single place for teams to recruit and onboard new employees as well as upskill and manage the performance of current team members.

 

What are some of the key ways Silkroad invests in the well-being of your employees?

We take a holistic approach to wellness that includes the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial well-being of our employees. Flexible work arrangements, flexible PTO, extended parental leave benefits and a paid volunteer time-off program allow employees to balance work and family life and to support causes meaningful to them. We offer traditional wellness programs and financial wellness programs, including team-based fitness challenges, healthy lifestyle resources, lunch and learn sessions, financial education and free access to financial advisors.

We use traditional communication channels and internal social media to share information about our wellness campaigns and initiatives, with employees encouraged to share stories of how they use our programs. We celebrate successes together!

We take a holistic approach to wellness that includes the physical, mental, emotional, social and financial well-being of our employees.”

 

How has Silkroad adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

We have taken steps to reduce stress and burnout by prioritizing flexible work to help employees juggling family needs with work commitments. Mandatory paid leave benefits have been supplemented with more generous paid time off, and managers have been coached to recognize the signs of stress and help employees through difficult situations.

We expanded wellness benefits to include a mental fitness app and increased communication on mental health topics to enhance self-awareness and destigmatize the subject. We recently offered a program on building resilience during challenging times and streamed sessions on similar topics. Telehealth benefits were added to our medical plan for traditionally office-based care, including mental health counseling, and we ensured employees knew how to access this benefit. We found people were moving less and stressing more, so we gamified our annual fitness challenge, causing participation to rival pre-pandemic levels.

 

 

McMaster-Carr team members sitting around a table in a conference room having a meeting
McMaster-Carr

 

Drew Maurer
People and Development Leader – Technology • McMaster-Carr

 

McMaster-Carr is an industrial supply e-commerce company offering more than half a million products used to keep business in motion. 

 

What are some of the key ways McMaster-Carr invests in the well-being of your employees? 

We strive to build resilient and high-performing teams, which requires thoughtful investment in the well-being of people. It starts with onboarding. We build camaraderie and connection early with comprehensive orientation experiences for all hires.

We believe in supporting the whole person at work, not just the employee. To this end, teammates can join employee-led, company-supported workplace groups that connect employees with shared identities, experiences and perspectives. Mentors and mentees connect one on one to foster belonging and enhance job performance. We offer Women in Tech programming and group mentoring circles. Product demos in Learn Before Lunch gatherings ensure that we celebrate successes together.

Work is just one part of a full life. We build a healthy work environment by encouraging teammates to achieve balance that meets their distinctive needs. People use all of their paid time off in order to recharge. In addition, employee input led to a set of work-life balance guidelines. We hold each other accountable to honoring these standards. When you talk to engineers here, you’ll hear that they’re able to consistently focus on their passions outside of work.

 

How has McMaster-Carr adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

We aim to cultivate a community where everyone can thrive. It shows in inclusive and comprehensive benefits like premium-free healthcare, gender-neutral paid parental leave and matching gifts to nonprofits, as well as in-kind support for volunteers. Our commitment to learning and development is also significant. For example, we offer 100 percent tuition reimbursement, college assistance for employees’ dependents and annual trips to conferences or seminars. We reevaluate the benefits that we offer to meet the changing needs of our coworkers. 

In addition to a hybrid work environment with flexible hours, we recently added enhanced mental health benefits, flexible exercise stipends and dependent care perks. People have easy access to free therapy sessions and medication management. Care.com memberships ease the stress of finding nannies, babysitters, senior caregivers, pet sitters and more. Stipends for exercise classes, marathons and health memberships support physical health. Of all these benefits, we are most proud of the comprehensive expansion of our mental health and well-being benefits, which many teammates have appreciated these past few years.

 

 

Jason Brockman
Corporate Training Manager • RedShelf

 

RedShelf is an edtech company that works with colleges, book publishers and businesses to digitize textbooks, which can then be read on its purpose-built e-reader.

 

What are some of the key ways RedShelf invests in the well-being of its employees?

A new focus on flexibility, work-life balance, well-being and workplace safety has made it essential to thoughtfully manage the employer-employee relationship and develop the culture team members want to see. The first step has been to invest in training and development that focuses on creating an environment where psychological safety, respect, recognition and collaboration are at the forefront. Providing opportunities to learn and grow with topics that improve how people relate to each other is an essential component of our overall effort.  

RedShelf has provided workshops on emotional intelligence, conflict competence, change management and mental health first aid to build a foundation for communication and help everyone openly discuss the very real challenges we face as an organization and as human beings.

RedShelf has provided workshops on emotional intelligence, conflict competence, change management and mental health first aid.”

 

How has RedShelf adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

RedShelf continues to promote and showcase our employee assistance program, or EAP, an employer-paid program that provides expert resources to assist with personal and job-related issues. In addition, RedShelf started offering full parental leave three years ago and recently expanded our health benefits to include more coverage for mental health, including prescriptions and therapies. We’ve embraced work from home, and 20 percent of our staff live outside the Chicagoland area. This is part of a larger effort to provide flexibility and drive a healthier employee work-life balance. 

Whether they’re in the office or working from their desk in another state, employees can join one of the listening sessions our DEI committee regularly hosts. These employee-led events provide a safe space for candid conversations about current events. All of this is made possible by RedShelf’s great people managers who have been vulnerable with their teams during the pandemic and modeled the healthy behaviors of setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care.

 

 

Two Hireology team members smiling and chatting in the office
Hireology

 

Dina Fox
People Business Partner • Hireology

 

Hireology’s hiring platform gives people teams a single solution for recruiting and onboarding candidates as well as managing payroll and HR. 

 

What are some of the key ways Hireology invests in the well-being of your employees? 

We often hear the importance of work-life balance but I have never seen this concept truly practiced like it is at Hireology. A core belief here is that our health and families are more important than our jobs, and our CEO recognizes the importance of family and personal time. This acknowledgment motivates our employees to go all in during work hours with the understanding that we can close our laptops at the end of the day and unplug. We also offer unlimited PTO and encourage monthly mental health days so our employees can recharge. 

This quarter we’re focusing on mental health and we have already begun rolling out these exciting initiatives: chair yoga, an at-home yoga session that incorporates your desk and chair; a 60-minute peer-led mental health panel to learn about and discuss therapy, a visit from a mindfulness speaker and a wellness challenge that offers prizes!

A core belief here is that our health and families are more important than our jobs.

 

How has Hireology adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

For starters, we offer date of hire benefit coverage so new hires can access their health benefits from day one. When we started hiring during the pandemic, we quickly realized that new hires felt more comfortable with healthcare coverage that began on their first day, and now our health, dental and vision insurance all kick in on the first day.

We also implemented a new wellness platform that makes understanding benefits coverage easier to ensure our remote workers feel just as part of the team as those who choose to come into the office. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that one colleague on the screen when most of the team is physically present in an in-office meeting. We are constantly listening to our employees through surveys and discussions to ensure we are providing benefits and perks that are both mentally and physically important to us all.

 

 

Ashley Jackson
HR Manager • AllCampus

 

Universities work with AllCampus to develop and manage online education programs.

 

What are some of the key ways AllCampus invests in the well-being of its employees?

We are committed to fostering professional growth and ensuring everyone is happy, healthy and passionate about their work. Our competitive and comprehensive benefits package includes health coverage, retirement planning and an office-optional policy, which helps make it easier to maintain a positive work-life balance. We’ve also recently updated our employee assistance program to include more comprehensive benefits. In addition, we offer perks like lively in-person and virtual events and summer Friday hours. 

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, AllCampus has provided an hour each week for employees to decompress. These virtual and onsite events include a meditation session, a workout, bingo and a company-wide discussion with a therapist on the importance of mental health.

We are committed to fostering professional growth and ensuring everyone is happy, healthy and passionate about their work.”

 

The last couple of years have been especially taxing on people’s physical and mental health. How has AllCampus adapted or expanded your benefits offerings to support employees’ needs and meet them where they are?

Our office-optional policy supports in-office, hybrid and remote work. We support the work-from-home setup of our employees. Our holiday schedule includes major holidays, extra days around Christmas and Independence Day, mental health days and holidays that many companies don’t observe, like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth. We encourage team members to support their communities by providing two days of volunteer time for approved programs. We also offer an employee resource group that focuses on volunteering and charitable giving, “AC Cares.” Plus, summer Fridays mean leaving early and getting paid for the full day.

AllCampus offers professional development reimbursements up to $1,000 annually for skill-enhancing training as well as tuition discounts for AllCampus-affiliated programs. Employee resource groups help us celebrate diversity and provide opportunities for discussion and guidance on social issues. Everyone is included in our community through games and conversation at virtual events, too.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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