One size doesn’t fit all: You may have some employees who are baby boomers. You have some who are Generation X. You may have some who are Millennials. They have different approaches to wellness and have different needs. You also have to take into account the diversity of your workforce and recognize they have varying needs.
The pandemic pause brought us to a moment of collective reckoning about what it means to live well and to work well. As a result, employees are sending employers an urgent signal that they are no longer willing to choose one — life or work — at the cost of the other. Working from home brought life literally into our work. And as the world now goes hybrid, employees are drawing firmer boundaries about how much of their work comes into their life. Where does this leave employers? And which perspectives and programs contribute most to progress? In our newest interview series, Working Well: How Companies Are Creating Cultures That Support & Sustain Mental, Emotional, Social, Physical & Financial Wellness, we are talking to successful executives, entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and thought leaders across all industries to share ideas about how to shift company cultures in light of this new expectation. We’re discovering strategies and steps employers and employees can take together to live well and to work well.
As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Alan Ahdoot.
As one of the partners at Adamson Ahdoot LLP in Los Angeles, Alan Ahdoot is dedicated to being an advocate for clients facing a wide range of personal injury cases. Since earning his law degree from Loyola Law School and passing the California State Bar, Alan has been passionate about helping people and standing up for those who don’t have enough resources to seek the justice they deserve. He has a single drive — represent the injured and marginalized.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you better. Tell us about a formative experience that prompted you to change your relationship with work and how work shows up in your life. Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and to assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?
We have a clear mission at Adamson Ahdoot. Our attorneys work aggressively to ensure maximum compensation for our injuries clients and their families. Our cases from from premises liability and auto crash cases to complex catastrophic injury cases. There’s no question that achieving that mission comes with long hours of arduous research and preparation. We believe that wellness can’t be reached solely by what you achieve in your professional life. Wellness comes from the love you give to your family and loved ones and the love you get back from them. People should diversify their lives so that they are paying attention to all that matters — including good health and mental wellness. We can’t give what our clients need without being on good footing with our employees. We make sure that supervisors regularly schedule one-on-one discussions with their team members. Those discussions aren’t restricted to case updates and legal strategies. We care about one another and we make sure we provide help to those suffering financial or personal strain. Our partners and leaders at our firm know that trust is earned. We do what is necessary to earn the trust of our workforce. We make sure they get what they need from us and if it’s beyond our power to help, we direct them to the right people who can get them the help they need.
Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a well workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?
Production is measured by how well we do for our clients and how many clients we serve. We consider it an honor that our clients trust us with their cases. We’re determined to pursue justice on their behalf. To borrow and paraphrase a famous advertising slogan, “We do well only when our clients do well.” Everyone at our firm knows that. We take a selfless, committed approach to every case we take on. We don’t beat ourselves up over a stumble or snafu. It’s easy to do that in a high-pressure environment. We guard against that. Our attorneys pick each other up. We imbue wisdom and give encouragement. Healthy diversions are suggested and encouraged. We have partnerships and relationships with yoga studios, boxing gyms, running clubs and other organizations that encourage physical activity. Physical wellness and mental wellness go hand-in-hand. Being holed up inside a law library for too long can negatively affect mental health. Spurts of physical activity to break up the monotony is a great remedy.
Even though most leaders have good intentions when it comes to employee wellness, programs that require funding are beholden to business cases like any other initiative. The World Health Organization estimates for every $1 invested into treatment for common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. That sounds like a great ROI. And, yet many employers struggle to fund wellness programs that seem to come “at the cost of the business.” What advice do you have to offer to other organizations and leaders who feel stuck between intention and impact?
Impact is what matters. Find out from your employees what wellness programs work best for them. Our clients suffer trauma, not just the physical kind. Our attorneys uncover gory details during discovery. That can — and has — affected them. They often feel what our clients feel. They sometimes need to speak to someone. We provide them with all of the counseling they need. The best leaders know that the bottom line is far from the only thing to be concerned about. Additionally, not every great decision can be measured by metrics. Sometimes you cut into profit margins to cover the costs of programs that are designed to maximize performance from your employees. We make sure we do what it takes to ensure our employees have all they need. For our clients, we don’t focus on quick outcomes. We insist on making sure all of our clients receive compensation for their full medical recovery. We can’t credibly claim that if we don’t prioritize medical and wellness care for our own employees.
Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank wellbeing as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?
Our candidates know that we have a culturally diverse team. That starts at the top. One of our co-founders is African-American and the other is Jewish-American. That is a huge selling point. We believe in providing a welcoming workplace for everyone. No one is neglected at our firm. No one feels overlooked. We have a family atmosphere. We make sure every candidate recognizes that.
We’ve all heard of the four-day work week, unlimited PTO, mental health days, and on demand mental health services. What innovative new programs and pilots are you launching to address employee wellness? And, what are you discovering? We would benefit from an example in each of these areas.
- Mental Wellness:
- Emotional Wellness:
- Social Wellness:
- Physical Wellness:
- Financial Wellness:
We cover counseling for mental and emotional wellness, whether it’s in-person counseling or virtual mental health services. As for social wellness, many of our attorneys are active in the local Latino, African-American, Jewish and Middle-Eastern communities. We encourage active participation in various ethnic, racial and religious communities across Southern California. Our community partnerships opens the door for our employees to take part in athletic and fitness programs that benefit their health. As for financial wellness, our firm has that covered in a big way. Our winning track record translates to robust compensation for all employees — attorneys, paralegals and administrators.
Can you please tell us more about a couple of specific ways workplaces would benefit from investing in your ideas above to improve employee wellness?
We provide a welcoming environment for our clients, who represent the full breadth of California’s diverse population. Following the slaying of George Floyd, people in the work force demanded that companies prioritize social justice. We have done that since day one. Roughly 90% of our employees are bilingual. We take pride in how we can make an outsized impact on people who feel marginalized in American society. All companies need to have a workforce that reflects the communities they serve. When they don’t, people notice. Our charity work is also centered on advocacy. Our employees take notice and take comfort in knowing that their firm’s leaders walk the walk.
How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?
We’re much more perceptive these days when it comes to noticing the signs of trauma. That happens when you spend any significant amount of time as a personal injury attorney. Since the launch of our law firm, we’ve seen the toll trauma can take on a person. It can never go unnoticed. When we see something, we say something. We also teach our younger employees about what signs to look for.
Ideas take time to implement. What is one small step every individual, team or organization can take to get started on these ideas — to get well?
Ideas do take time. There also isn’t enough time to wait it out until you have enough employees who recognize the signs of declining wellness. Organizations need to act. It goes back to our belief that in order to provide the programs that employees need, companies need to spend money on their workers. Third-party counselors are available across the corporate world. They’re used regularly by news outlets when their reporters cover a shooting massacre or natural disaster. All industries should take notice of those programs and do their research. At the first sign you need them, turn to them.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”
- One size doesn’t fit all: You may have some employees who are baby boomers. You have some who are Generation X. You may have some who are Millennials. They have different approaches to wellness and have different needs. You also have to take into account the diversity of your workforce and recognize they have varying needs.
- Employers need to widen their scope after covid-19: Wellness is broadly defined. During the pandemic, nearly half of employees in the U.S. were working from home at least part-time. While managing a remote workforce isn’t practical for us, employees in other industries prioritize this when looking for work — especially younger employees. Companies need to weigh their own needs with the demands of job candidates who expect to enter a hybrid work environment.
- Take a more holistic approach: Benefits cover all phases of wellness — mental, financial and physical. In the wake of the pandemic, workers are more interested in resilience training than ever before. What younger workers want are programs that treat all aspects of health. Employers should expect to take a more multi-pronged approach to employee wellness for the foreseeable future.
- Mindfulness apps: One of those aforementioned prongs is surely to include mindfulness apps. Talkspace is one of the biggest mobile therapy companies that workers rely on and it continues to grow in popularity. Employers could offer free or discounted rates for Talkspace memberships. There is a greater emphasis than ever before on mindfulness.
- Diversity and inclusion: This is a big one. Employees everywhere demand that companies prioritize diversity. That is especially the case in Southern California, one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the U.S.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?
Social change is hard. It only happens when people dig in their heels and demand it. We’ve seen tremendous change brought on by the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement and a heightened awareness of the country’s treatment of immigrants. Tremendous progress has been made. You get the feeling that any attempts of a rollback on that progress will be blocked. History will reflect positively on the current era, in spite of all the heartache we’ve experienced. I predict harmony ahead as a result of the hard work that has been done.
Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?
Visit our website at www.aa.law/ and follow us on Instagram @adamsonahdoot.
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.