Employee Wellness — Are you investing as much in your employees out of the office as you are in the office. Do they feel supported?

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Bob Hamer, Director of Corporate Wellness, ClassPass.

Bob and his team are focused on helping partner companies provide the best in fitness and wellness benefits to their employees. Prior to joining ClassPass, Bob amassed 15 years of sales, strategy, and leadership experience.

He started his career working in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns. He rose from an entry level salesperson to become their Vice President of Sales over the course of eight years. In his role he oversaw all ticket sales for the Suns along with all events happening at US Airways Center. After the Suns, Bob founded SBS Consulting, a boutique agency with a focus on sales training, leadership development, and strategic consulting. He grew that company over seven years and built a client portfolio of more than 100 companies.

Thank you for making time to visit with us. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

The first one was graduating college. As the oldest of three, and the first in my immediate and extended family to graduate college, it was a big deal. In many ways I grew a ton through that experience, and it prepared me for life in the real world, I’m proud of that. Go U of A Wildcats, #BearDown!

The second was leaving a very steady job and successful career working as a VP in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns to starting my own consulting business. I went from making good money to not making any money overnight. I was happy at the Suns, but something was missing. The decision was mission driven. I realized after leaving that the work I was doing each day, the ability to follow my passions, and the impact of my work were more important than the money I made and responsibility I had. I’ve evaluated every professional decision since then by looking at it through that lens and it’s served me well. It’s helped shape who I am today.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

Coming out of the pandemic, companies have adopted and embraced new technologies that make it easier to have a flexible workplace and have really prioritized employee health and wellbeing. The pandemic taught us it is possible to take your work outside of the normal four walls of an office — and I think this is something that we will continue to see in the future.

Through this shift, employers have become more supportive of balance. We hear a lot about a “hybrid workplace” but it really is what employees are now looking for when considering new jobs. New technology has given us the autonomy to go in and out of the office, work in different areas and regions, allow employers to not place limits on location when looking for the right candidate, and helps invest in overall wellbeing. All of this will be imperative as companies work to develop the right culture and retain talent, while attracting stronger job candidates. The industry realized we were missing the mark — the culture was previously more structured and rigid, but we will continue to shift into more results driven culture that gives employees more autonomy and better balance.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

Don’t wait too long. Make it a priority and commit to it. It’s one thing to say it’s a priority, but it’s another thing to commit to it. More companies are offering flexibility and better benefits and they are realizing the impact this has on their workforce. If you’re not part of that trend, it will put you at a competitive disadvantage for talent. Don’t just say it — do it as well. If your employees don’t feel like you’re serious or genuine about what you say, they will realize that and find somewhere else that is adapting to the current climate.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

The biggest gap will be evaluating the ROI on these investments. It’s hard to point to one thing specifically as to the reason someone stays or leaves a company. There’s a lot of factors at play and the company must weigh the hard dollars, cost, and budget, mixed with the impact and potential upside of the investment.

Although they might believe it’s the right thing to do, it is sometimes difficult to convince the leadership team to do this when you may not see the value immediately. Employees are now expecting these things to be offered and look for companies that have values outside of what was traditionally offered.

The gap that we are seeing is employees and potential employees are now expecting these benefits, but it can be very costly for the employer to invest in them. How we can look to bridge these gaps is to start listening to our employees. Conduct regular employee experience surveys to hear from your team members and track to see if your employees are taking part in your investments — these results can help quantify the impact of investment and track to ensure the investments provided are yielding the right returns.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working from Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

We have seen we are not limited to our city and office and that we really can do our work from anywhere. The challenge with this is it’s harder to develop camaraderie within your workplace and employees start to miss out on the culture and social relationships that come with work. It is important employers encourage team members find ways to get together and socialize or identify robust wellness benefits that promote healthy lifestyles and promote team building.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

We need to be more inclusive and understanding of not just the work product of our employees, but of their life commitments as well. This means being more flexible to those who have families, children, or various commitments outside of work. People may be working different hours or different times or may sign off for a few hours to be more present with loved ones and sign back on later at night. The remote world offers many benefits and if people are getting their work done and presenting a good product, we don’t need to be limited to the traditional 9–5 working hours.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

When you give your employees flexibility, they will start to feel more empowered and in control of their career and their work. This will drive overall happiness and better balance in their lives. This will also decrease burnout, increase engagement and increase overall performance.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

Companies need to find better benefits that work with their employees as they are now in all different parts of the world. It’s time to adapt to meet your employees where they are and offer benefits that are inclusive to everyone. Having a gym or free snacks in your office isn’t a big seller anymore — how are you working to meet your employee that has moved on from the big city and investing in their health and wellness?

But it’s not just about offering these benefits — it’s about working to drive the engagement and use of these benefits. That is what separates the good from the great companies. It shows your employees you value them and their health and wellness. Committing to it financially and committing to the use of it, even if it means spending more money, sends the message of importance and priority.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

What they need to hear is why employees are feeling the need to leave their organizations. Employers need to really take the time to analyze exit survey data, evaluate compensation and total rewards, look at the overall work experience in terms of in office, hybrid, and remote, and look at most popular and least popular benefits and programs. From there, employers should adjust their culture to align with what team members are looking for. It’s really all about listening to the feedback and putting a plan in place to activate that feedback.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends to Track in the Future of Work?”

  • Employee Retention — How well are we able to keep our top performers?
  • Employee Experience — How satisfied are the employees on all aspects of their workday?
  • Employee Mobility — How does where the employee works and what hours they keep impact the business?
  • External Factors — Market conditions, the economy, social and political issues etc.
  • Employee Wellness — Are you investing as much in your employees out of the office as you are in the office. Do they feel supported?

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

For me it’s “Control the Controllables”. We may not have control over external factors at work and in life, but we can always control how we show up to work each day, the positive attitude we bring, the work ethic, the commitment to the role and the organization, and the impact we can have on the business and on the people on our teams.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

In sports it’s Mike Trout, star baseball player for my favorite team the Angels. In business it’d be Elon Musk, Bill Gates, or Richard Branson, and in politics it’d be former President Obama. All for the same reasons, I’m so motivated by those who’ve reached the very highest highs in their field and the stories of how they got there and how they’ve sustained it are so inspirational. Please let me know if any of these lunches can be arranged!

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?

I’m an open networker, I love meeting new people and talking corporate wellness, sports, music, travel and really anything else! I can always be reached via email at [email protected] or on LinkedIn @ Bob Hamer

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