Online Classes — We tested an online platform this year that offered group and self-led classes with a variety of topics for wellness. These types of platforms are going to take off in the future, as they’re easy to implement for employers and easy for employees to work into their day even if it is just for a 10-minute mindfulness break.
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 Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP® president and partner of Diversified LLC.
Andrew is the president of Diversified LLC, a comprehensive financial planning and investment firm that is ranked #9 in the top 50 fastest growing RIAs by FA Magazine. As a financial planner, he forges lifelong relationships with clients, coaching them through all stages of life and guiding them to better achieve their life goals. Andrew loves helping others by spreading his knowledge on finance, investments and the pursuit of happiness, and does so through his nationally recognized blog, his contributions to Forbes and Kiplinger, and his appearances in other publications and television programs.
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.
Like most people, the birth of my first child was life changing. It also changed my relationship with work, and I wanted more time to spend with my daughter and family. Another wake up call in my life occurred in 2018. I woke up with vestibular migraines out of nowhere and found that I couldn’t function. After this health scare, I started to embrace more balance and meditation in life. Not only that, but I realized I needed to promote the same balance to my employees in my business too. If I wanted more time with my family, and to prioritize my health and wellness, I’m sure that my employees also wanted those things.
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 let our employees define wellness by asking what it means to them. We value open communication and hold frequent 1:1 meetings within departments, in addition to quarterly and annual meetings within our executive team, which we then debrief to the entire company. We regularly survey our employees to check in with how they are doing, and we have work/life balance as one of our core values.
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?
We hire our employees for the long haul, and we want them to grow with us for their careers, so their wellness is of the utmost importance to us. We’re continually investing in our employees and our company, and investing in their wellness is one piece of that overall investment. An employee that feels well and has a true work/life balance is more productive, and happier at work, and more likely to stay with us for the long haul.
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?
My advice to you — just start. If you waffle between funding wellness programs thinking that they’re going to cost your business, you need to change the way you think. Investing in your employees is investing in your business. You can start with cost-effective wellness initiatives instead of dropping a large sum on a program. Switch to hybrid working if that gives your employees a better work-life balance. Offer summer Fridays or reduced summer hours, and you’d be surprised how productivity improves even with a reduction in hours. If you’re feeling stuck, just start. And if you’re not sure where to start, ask your employees. They know best what would help them in their own day-to-day lives, and what would bring the greatest improvement for the amount spent.
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 company culture is clear from the start — we state our core values in each job advertisement, and throughout the interview process, we continually express that we hire, promote and fire to our core values, so it’s no surprise that the employees that work for us all fit well within those core values. One of those core values speaks directly to work/life balance, as we want to be sure that our employees are prioritizing their own lives in addition to their work.
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: When we hire new employees, we have them take a personality test so we understand how they prefer to communicate. Are they super-detailed and want all of the information up front? Or are they a big picture person and just need the basics? We then tailor our communication and management style based upon how they prefer to receive information, which helps to alleviate stress on their end. We also hold frequent meetings (either 1:1 or team meetings) with our employees to get a pulse on how they’re feeling to ensure that no one is overworked, and survey them anonymously to check in with how everyone is feeling.
- Emotional Wellness: We’ve contracted with various companies to hold online wellness courses that are offered at a group level and also self-paced, in areas such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and fitness. Our company holds regular seminars with experts that provide tips on how to reduce stress, improve mindfulness and live within the moment.
- Social Wellness: We have a program called “Sending Smiles” where employees anonymously send each other gifts to improve their day. We hold frequent team building events, both in person and virtually to accommodate remote employees, from axe-throwing to bartending classes and virtual escape rooms.
- Physical Wellness: Our company hosts online wellness courses in topics ranging from nutrition to yoga, free to employees, and we offer employees free access to the gym located within some of our office buildings. We also have a program to improve each employee’s workspace, where an employee may purchase items that would make their workspace nicer (such as a standing desk, water bottle, plants, etc.)
- Financial Wellness: It would be silly for a financial company to not promote financial wellness within our own employees. We offer complimentary financial planning within our firm, and also host education seminars so that our employees can learn about financial planning topics. We also host lunch and learns, where we have lunch and discuss pertinent financial topics with our employees. Financial literacy is extremely important, not only for our clients but for our employees and their own personal lives. Above all, we pay our employees at a competitive rate with bonuses based on our core values, and provide a 401(K) match in addition to other financial benefits.
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?
One of our most loved initiatives is our every other Friday off. Having a three-day weekend every other weekend provides a built-in break that our employees really enjoy, and it promotes the work/life balance that is important to us.
It also starts from the top. If you implement wellness initiatives and your executives or leaders aren’t leading by example, then what’s the point? At our company, our CEO leaves early to coach his kid’s sports teams. Other executives work hybrid and remote. Some of us work from the beach during the summer. We all participate in the seminars and wellness services that we offer to employees. You’ve got to lead by example and show your employees that you practice what you preach.
How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?
We hold quarterly meetings with our executive team to determine how we’re going to run the company, and we base our quarterly goals off of our 3 and 10 year goals. Within these meetings, we set goals based on the wellness of our company and our employees.
It’s also an initiative of ours to strengthen our executive team, so we set aside time for retreats and team building days to go off-site and build our bond so that we’re effectively communicating with each other, and therefore, being better leaders for our organization.
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to us that we lead by example at Diversified. We want our employees to understand that we really mean what we say, from the top down — so we, as executives, lead by example. We have unlimited PTO, and instead of letting that go unused, we use our PTO and encourage our employees to do the same. We work flex schedule and hybrid to accommodate our lifestyles, and encourage our employees to do the same.
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?
The easiest place to start (and the smallest) is by talking to your employees. Asking them, what would improve their lives? Is it more time? Then perhaps you can implement a flexible schedule, a remote hybrid, or a no-meeting day. Is it more money? Then assess if you’re paying them competitively. You can’t know what would help your employees the most if you don’t ask.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”
- Financial Wellness — This isn’t just a trend, it’s here to stay. After the pandemic, we saw many lose their jobs, and the inflation over the last bit of time has exacerbated things for anyone in a poor financial situation. Offering a competitive salary with benefits is a wellness trend that will continue on into the future, as it encourages loyal employees and a thriving business. Financial wellness goes beyond just ensuring that you’re competitive with compensation — ensure that your employees have the proper financial literacy to plan for their retirement, college, and any goals in their lives.
- The Office of the Future — The pre-COVID work environment is gone. At our company, we joke that at one point, we could all sit around a conference room table together. Now, we’re spread across the country and many of us, even locally, work from home a portion of the time. It’s not that we don’t enjoy seeing each other and spending time together, but for some of our employees, they needed to move to be closer to family. For some of our employees, it makes sense to save the office space and have them work from home. Some people prefer working in the office and so they do, while others prefer working from home and so they work from home. The bottom line, our employees are capable of deciding where they’re most productive, and we have the technology to make it happen. And it works — we’ve grown so much that now, there’s too many of us to fit in a conference room at one time. The big companies that push a return to office may end up regretting it, because that talent will go somewhere else with a more flexible working environment.
- Changing Office Environments — While I mentioned hybrid working, I think that the office itself is changing. We already use convertible standing desks as some of our employees prefer to move around while working. We have initiatives to improve our workspace, and have seen employees make their space more comfortable in a myriad of ways both at home and at the office. The old cubicle and desk combo will go the way of the dinosaur, and will be replaced with something more health-conscious.
- Online Classes — We tested an online platform this year that offered group and self-led classes with a variety of topics for wellness. These types of platforms are going to take off in the future, as they’re easy to implement for employers and easy for employees to work into their day even if it is just for a 10-minute mindfulness break.
- Investing in Employees — I think we’re right on the cusp of businesses realizing that investing in their employees is a sound business decision. We always say that we’re nothing without our clients (which is true), and without our employees. Our employees are the driving force of our business, and we can’t do what we do without them. So what we invest into our business, we invest into our employees as well. We genuinely want our employees to be wealthy, healthy, and happy, just like we want for our clients. I think other businesses will catch onto this soon enough.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?
I’m optimistic about the culture of the future. If we’re working towards this culture of wellness now, imagine where it will be in a few years’ time.
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?
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.
Thank you for the opportunity! We wish your readers a lifetime of wealth, health and happiness.