Have your team take the Meyers Briggs test on 16 personalites.com! Everyone loves to learn about themselves and share the results. It’s like astrology for the workplace. Then hold a meeting where people can share their archetypes and results to look at similarities and differences between different team members’ personalities. This goes a long way to showcase how individuals can communicate differently with one another to achieve better results and relate to one another more effectively.

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 Amber Frankhuizen.

Amber Frankhuizen is the Founder and CEO of AFMKTG, a boutique creative agency that serves brands across multiple industries including real estate, yachting, and the luxury services sector.

Her professional mission is to provide excellent creative and marketing services by bringing art into the business world while supporting her team’s personal and professional development.

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. How did your experience growing up shape your relationship with work and what changes had to happen to reprogram those beliefs?

I have always been very career focused and ambitious, often putting my work before myself. Both of my parents worked as I grew up, so I spent most of my childhood at daycare, with babysitters, or with a nanny. Hard work was modeled for me at a very young age.

But as amazing as my parents are, self-care was never a discussion in our household. I think it’s a generational thing.

I felt like I had to learn soft skills, self-care, and boundaries on my own once I got to the ‘business world,’ which put me in positions where I was facing being the youngest on a very competitive team, being the only woman on a team, and navigating things like misogyny and setting boundaries on the fly. I would often be turning to articles like this for answers, help, and guidance. Being so young, I wasn’t seeing a lot of successful and balanced women in my field to look up to. And I didn’t see any men talking about the importance of wellness in the workplace.

I stumbled quite a bit, but it wasn’t until I started getting formal support, in the form of mentorship, therapy, and education on professional and interpersonal communication, that I started to be able to look at situations and myself objectively to make changes.

Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?

We utilize a performance review program that sends out automated and anonymous monthly surveys to our team members to measure things like employee happiness, workload, identifying strengths and weaknesses in management, learning and growth opportunities, recognition and performance, autonomy, and ownership.

Anecdotally, I also make it a point to take the temperature of individual team members in our one-on-one meetings. The team member “drives’ the meeting, but I do have a set of questions to prompt conversations, including:

· How is your workload?

· What are your favorite parts of your job, highlights, and achievements?

· What has been a challenge recently?

· What are your roadblocks?

· How can I support you or what resources do you need to in reaching your goals?

We also support our team with wellness benefits in the form of team fitness activities and a comped membership to ClassPass. ClassPass offers physical fitness classes and self-care appointments like massages or acupuncture, so it gives our team the autonomy to choose the wellness options that suit them best. On top of that, we offer continuing education opportunities, off-site summits, and social events.

Based on your experience or research, how do you correlate and quantify the impact of a good workforce on your organization’s productivity and profitability?

I have personally struggled with mental health and seen the impact it had on my professional success. In a state of depression or anxiety, it’s incredibly hard to identify new opportunities, think clearly, or be creative.

When we focus on building a “well workforce,” we have team members who are getting better sleep and making better decisions for their overall health, so coming to work clearheaded. They are prioritizing nutrition and fitness which means they’re eating well for energy, are exercising for endorphins, and are generally more open-minded — willing to grow, learn, and listen. It’s not just about productivity, it’s about creating a culture where our team members can be there to support each other and be friendly, kind, and empathetic to one another. When our team is working in a supportive, creative, healthy environment where they’re not overworked and underappreciated, they’re not going to be resentful about being at work, which means they’re going to be happier to be there, happier to contribute, happier to be creative and that translates into the better output from our team, which in turn leads to better productivity and profitability.

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?

In my opinion, wellness and personal development need to be a core value and weaved into the fabric of every business.

We’re asking people to collaborate with, sell to, work for, and manage other humans, but most companies fail to equip their people with the tools or education to know how to do so.

In the same way we all lament high school curriculums excluding topics like personal finance and taxes from their lessons, businesses are failing their employees by not teaching them how to relate to other humans.

There are so many low-cost ways to implement wellness into a business, for example instead of sponsoring a happy hour or a pizza party, can you do an intro to yoga class or a team hike? Could you carve out an hour a month to do a fireside chat for your team about productivity, listening skills, or a breathwork class?

For companies that feel resistant to investing in wellness programs, I urge them to reframe the investment from thinking about it as a “cost” to thinking about it as a “slingshot.” Spending a few hundred dollars on a coach to come in and talk about Myers-Briggs personality types or coaching managers on leadership skills could give those employees a set of skills that might save you hours of time down the line. Instead of having to referee an employee dispute yourself, arm your team with the tools to avoid it upfront. Prioritize employee happiness and cut down on turnover and recruitment costs by retaining employees longer. Taking a step back to focus on self-development or wellness education will slingshot your business further than you could ever imagine.

Speaking of money matters, a recent Gallup study reveals employees of all generations rank well-being as one of their top three employer search criteria. How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?

I find it really funny when job descriptions list all the things they want the new employees to do for the company, but don’t talk about any of the benefits they’re going to give to the employees. Working as an equal energy exchange, and yes, the employee gives you ‘production’ in exchange for compensation, but this is not the industrial revolution. Our team members are not all factory workers. They’re humans. And they deserve to earn more than just a paycheck — they deserve dignity.

The benefits we offer at AFMKTG are very attractive to new talent. A hybrid work schedule, we’ve found, is one of the most exciting offers, as we understand that a flexible schedule is crucial.

An office that is atheistically pleasing and comfortable goes a long way to improving quality of life while at work.

Advertising our Ethos and Core Values goes a long way as well. It allows candidates to self-select in or out of playing with us, if they don’t resonate with what we stand for, we’re likely not going to have a good culture fit. But for all the candidates that we’ve hired that have been excited about our core values, they’ve been incredible additions to the team.

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: Continued education for career progression, personal development curriculum within the framework of the agency, personal and professional goal-setting workshops.
  • Emotional Wellness: Flexible schedules, access to wellness providers through ClassPass membership.
  • Social Wellness: Hybrid work schedule with short-term ‘work from anywhere options available to all team members, social outings, off-site summits.
  • Physical Wellness: Team fitness outings, ClassPass membership for access to fitness classes.
  • Financial Wellness: Personalized financial education opportunities with a fiduciary through our retirement savings program.

We don’t believe in unlimited PTO at AFMKTG. We know from science that humans crave certainty, especially in high-stress environments. Open-ended policies tend to be underutilized by personalities that are more politically conscious and tend to be taken advantage of by people who are more cavalier. This can breed resentment between different personality types. Having a predetermined policy takes the pressure off everyone and provides clear guidelines for all, which alleviates uncertainty and self-imposed anxiety about how to do what is right.

How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?

As a business owner, I must lead by example. If I am not prioritizing my physical, mental, or emotional health and it impacts the way I serve my team members, they will see the bar I set and lower their standards to meet it.

Wellness is something we talk about constantly. For example, if our team members are not feeling well, for physical, mental, or emotional reasons, we encourage them to take time off to rest. I don’t want someone coming in to infect our team with germs or bad attitudes! And quite frankly, it’s okay to have an ‘off day,’ — as long as we use it to take care of ourselves to feel better.

Cultures in other countries often emphasize these things naturally. For example, calling in sick to work in France might elicit a response such as “do you have anyone to care for you,” vs. “can you still make your deadline,” in America. In most of Europe, an entire month of holiday in late summer is the norm. A later start of the workday is common in many Latin American cultures.

As the leader of this business, I could work every waking hour, but I know I must take time to rest. It’s a struggle for me still, I feel guilty about taking vacations or time off. But when I’m better rested, balanced, and happy outside of work, I am a better leader at work.

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?

Here are three micro-steps to immediately and inexpensively implement a wellness initiative at your company:

1. Have your team take the Meyers Briggs test on 16 personalites.com! Everyone loves to learn about themselves and share the results. It’s like astrology for the workplace. Then hold a meeting where people can share their archetypes and results to look at similarities and differences between different team members’ personalities. This goes a long way to showcase how individuals can communicate differently with one another to achieve better results and relate to one another more effectively.

2. Offer coffee alternatives! Caffeine addiction is a real thing and overconsumption can lead to dehydration, which can result in short-term memory loss, depression, afternoon fatigue, inability to focus and lack of mental clarity, or “brain fog.” Provide caffeinated teas, mushroom-based drink mixes like MudWater, Kombucha, and sparkling waters to keep your team hydrated!

3. Sorry, but we don’t want more COMPANY SWAG when we hit our company anniversaries or holidays. At AFMKTG, we gift our team with certificates they can spend on EXPERIENCES that enrich their mind body, and soul. Gift certificates to TicketMaster, so they can go to a concert, to a spa or hotel so they can take a trip and relax, are our gifts of choice.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?

With how interconnected our work culture is with our personal lives, wellness and separation from work need to be an intentional effort for every level of the organization. Many companies are still treating wellness like a trend, but their employees are not. As I mentioned before, wellness or self-development was not in my parent’s vocabulary. This new generation is very clued into mental health, managing anxiety, navigating a diverse and inclusive workplace and feeling supported wherever they go. I believe it’s going to be this generation that continues to demand more from their employees in relation to wellness and now that we have so many more educational opportunities around this topic, including articles like this, I feel very optimistic about the future of workplace wellness.

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?

For more on AFMKTG, please visit us online at AFMKTG.com.

You can find our company on Instagram and LinkedIn @AFMKTG.

For more on Amber Frankhuizen, follow her adventures in leadership and wellness on Instagram @amberincalifornia.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.