Provide all team members with additional stipend to cover any out of pocket therapy.

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 Charlie Saffro, President and Founder of CS Recruiting.

Charlie started CS Recruiting from the ground up and has over 14 years of direct recruiting experience within the Logistics, Transportation and Supply Chain. As the President and Founder of CS Recruiting and leader of her 40 person team, Charlie focuses on making meaningful connections to empower others to discover their full potential.

CS Recruiting’s goal is to partner with clients and candidates to develop long-lasting relationships and make appropriate and time sensitive career matches.

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.

I started my company, CS Recruiting — however, I spent the first 8 years as an employee of my own company. I thought it was important to learn the work and perform responsibilities for all positions before I took on a true leadership role.

During these early years, I was part of our leadership team and worked closely with two C-Level males to run the company.

In 2020, we had some personnel changes and both C-Level leaders exited the company leaving me as the sole “leader” in the organization. This sudden and unexpected change encouraged me to shift my focus and daily responsibilities to focus my time as thea true leader of my own firm.

CS Recruiting has always had an “employee first” mentality, but this became the number one#1 focus of my role when I assumed the President position in 2020. Since that time, our company has gone through a transformative evolution and we’ve put programs, processes, and technologies in place to ensure that our company is a place where people can thrive, feel safe and embrace their purpose with meaningful work. The examples listed below are all tactics and strategies that we’ve put in place over the last two years and our weekly check-in surveys and quarterly employee surveys have confirmed that our team is feeling optimistic, secure and fulfilled.

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 define employee wellness as our team members being in a place where they are mentally sound and financially stable; feel appreciated, motivated, and supported to do good work; feel their purpose and impact of their work and have a work/life balance.

We measure our employee mental wellness through weekly check-ins that touch on their overall wellbeing and quarterly employee surveys to take pulse of the teams mental state.

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?

Our employee survey scores increase each quarter, and our revenue has continued to increase during those same quarters. We also see results as to who is “engaged, moderately engaged, etc.” and, if we have unengaged employees, there is bound to be low performance somewhere on our team.

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?

Creating attention and supporting employee wellness does not have to cost a lot of money. While the obvious route is to provide a paid mental health resource to our employees (therapy stipend, etc.), not all companies can afford this, especially startups or smaller companies that are in growth mode.

Employers can promote employee wellness through a variety of other “perks” that support their mental health and these initiatives can work very well without an additional budget expense.

The most important thing is to create an open dialogue on mental health and for managers and leaders to remind their team that they are there to support them. Having open discussions on a difficult topic can bring a sense of relief to employees and give them confidence that their leadership team will support them.

All employees need to feel a sense of “Psychological Safety,” which is defined as feeling secure that you can speak up and won’t be punished or humiliated for raising questions, voicing concerns, ideas or mistakes. Companies that confront these difficult subjects head-on will foster a safer environment for employees which ultimately leads to loyalty and retention.

Additionally, when an employee’s mental health is affected by their work, it’s usually a case of burnout. Employers must be mindful of managing employee capacity and production expectations by offering additional resources and encouraging team members to manage their time to prevent burnout.

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?

We generally discuss and promote all our initiatives during the interview process.

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.

At CS Recruiting, we promote self-care and encourage our team doing what they need to bring their best self to work every day. All of these examples add up to our team members feeling that our leadership team is supportive of their needs and we do whatever we can to influence wellbeing as an employer.

  • Mental Wellness:
  • We offer a great PPO that does includes mental health coverage.
  • We have a “no email after 6pm policy” to allow our team members to reset each night without pressure from team emails.
  • We are 100% remote.
  • We offer Fridays off in the summer.
  • All employees get their birthdays off as a “free” PTO day.
  • We offer a “reset” day in Q1 and recognize it as a mental health “holiday.
  • We do leadership 1:1’s with every employee each quarter to have a personal chat and check in on their life outside of work.
  • We do weekly employee surveys to measure individual temperatures.
  • We do a quarterly employee survey to gather anonymous feedback on the state of everyone’s wellbeing.
  • Emotional Wellness:
  • We have flexible work hours to allow employees to schedule doctor appointments and find time for self-care.
  • We are involved with local charities and have one day in Q3 where employees take off to “give back” which can contribute to happiness.
  • Social Wellness:
  • We do an annual company retreat where we sponsor a long weekend for a reset.
  • We do monthly “optional” team sponsored happy hours and dinners to encourage connection outside of business hours.
  • Physical Wellness:
  • We are a remote company and encourage our employees to take walking meetings when possible.
  • As a remote employer, we also promote that since there is no commute, that leaves more time in the morning for them to be active to start their day if they choose to do so.
  • We also make it known that if they get their work done, we are comfortable with them working out mid-day.
  • When we were in office, we offered our team a guided meditation once a week that was optional to allow their brain to rest and support this type of self-care.
  • Financial Wellness:
  • In addition to our medical benefits, we offer free Financial Advising to our team members as it relates to their 401K and profit sharing.

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?

The ideas mentioned above are all very simple and cost-effective ways to demonstrate care and concern for employee wellbeing. It’s important that companies act and provide resources versus just “talking the talk.”

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

All our managers and above conduct 1:1’s with team members and use this time to catch up personally with very little discussion about their role or professional career. By doing this, we build a relationship and have the opportunity to peek inside our employee’s personal life so we are able to support whatever they are going through.

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?

Schedule and commit to consistent 1:1 meetings to allow employees a safe forum to feel heard.

What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”

  1. Remote work:

Sense of relief when employees feel trusted.

Motivation to show up as their best self because they feel trusted and cared for.

More time in their day for physical wellness and self-care.

2. Mental health stipends:

Provide all team members with additional stipend to cover any out of pocket therapy.

3. Meditation and Yoga Offerings.

This might be in the form of a stipend, organized group activities or just communication that leadership supports meditation and yoga as a form of self care and encourages team members to find time to clear their head.

4. Scheduled “Reset” Days.

Create a “company holiday” that offers employees an extra day off (paid) where they’re encouraged to take care of themselves. The company must support the initiative through communication with clients (Out of Office Messages, proactive emails, social media content) to make sure that employees do not feel guilty and manage their workload so they can use the time appropriately as a true day off work.

5. Email Cut-off times.

I’d love to see more employers adopt the mentality of “no email after 6PM.” It’s fine if employees choose to work after-hours, but by banning internal emails after-hours, you are supporting your employees work life balance and promoting this message internally. Once this policy is in effect, team members will be more responsive to after-hour “emergencies” and know that if they do get an email or text after hours, it is a true work emergency that needs to be tended to. Otherwise, emails should always be scheduled for the next day during working hours.

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

  • When leaders support employee wellness, they cultivate a sense of psychological safety and loyalty.
  • People who work with companies that put employees first are generally more motivated to show up and do their best because they feel cared for, appreciated, and seen for their unique strengths and efforts.
  • People want to bring their best to work when they know their leadership cares about them and when they feel comfortable discussing the topic of mental wellness.
  • When leaders demonstrate genuine concern about the people and company culture, there is a ripple effect that not only impacts employee enthusiasm and performance but also has a ripple effect and usually impacts the quality of customer service.

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?

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