Trust in your employees and support the growth of junior team members. Establish programs that supplement the expansion of the skillset and ensure that mentorship is a core element of your workplace model.

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 Claudio Da Soller, General Manager at Pininfarina of America.

Claudio Da Soller oversees P/L, operations, commercial strategy, and marketing activities for Pininfarina’s Design Studios across North, Central, and South America, in the area of architecture, industrial design and transportation. Claudio started his career as Lieutenant in the Italian military as logistics department leader. Later he has spent over 15 years working for several F50 multinational companies, such as GE and Philips. Throughout his career, Claudio has focused on international business development and marketing across Europe and the United States, specifically in the consumer goods premium and luxury market. He covers also the role of President for the Florida branch of the Carabinieri National Association and the Vice President of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce South-East.

As a design house, creativity is the primary driver and inspiration behind all of the work we do here at Pininfarina. In turn, it’s essential for us to purposefully curate an environment that stimulates and inspires creativity among our team. While this can be accomplished through many different means, we choose to support and motivate our employees by investing in their wellness at all times.

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?

The pandemic was a drastic turning point for all, and Pininfarina used this as an opportunity to respond directly to the needs of our team, promptly allowing them to work from home while we invested in IT infrastructure to support this new model. We are proud to say that during that period we were able to retain all of our employees, giving them a sense of stability throughout a tumultuous time. It was also important for us to continue enriching our company culture by organizing several remote activities, including wellness-centric classes in yoga, meditation, and exercise, as well as cooking classes and even a virtual holiday party.

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 organization has experienced a significant correlation between financial results and wellness of our employees. Our revenues almost tripled since the start of the pandemic and the implementation of several new wellness activities for the employees.If the team is happy and healthy, they’re better prepared to enter the workplace with a positive, collaborative mindset. In order to invest in the wellness of the team, we’ve increasingly scheduled activities that target the enhancement of each individual’s wellbeing. We also exercise empathy, being flexible to the needs and personal matters of our team, which has made a remarkable impact on cultivating a positive workplace for all.

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?

The impact of investing in employee wellness has truly been invaluable to our firm. Not only does it increase productivity (and, in turn, ROI), but it also brings our office closer together, encouraging teams to collaborate and support one another, which is an immeasurable, but endlessly beneficial element to the workplace. While we always valued employee wellness, the pandemic has truly highlighted how integral it is to any business model.

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?

Wellness is our firm’s priority from the first day of work on. Along with the ongoing initiatives we established during the pandemic, we’ve come to realize that an important element of wellness comes from physical proximity with other colleagues to create a community and shared experience of working in the office together. We also started communicating our wellness programs online so that potential hires can get a genuine sense of our corporate culture and understand how seriously we take the wellbeing of our team. Additionally, we are proud to have been named a 2022 Great Place to Work for a second consecutive year, scoring 39 points above the average typical U.S.-based company, a recognition generated from an anonymous survey of employees that recognizes outstanding employee experiences.

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?

Working closely with our HR, we’ve found effective ways to engage our team across a variety of wellness sectors to craft a well-rounded experience for each individual. We established programs that engage the minds of our employees such as Creativity Day, to allow their interests and passions to flourish. We’ve also instituted educational programs customized for many employee to further their knowledge of a selected topic. We also want to continue to push our employees to give back to our community by participating in social events such as recently Stand Up for Kids, an initiative to help youth experiencing homelessness, and International Coastal CleanUp Day, where our team goes out to local Miami beaches to help rid the shores of litter and waste. As for physical wellness, we join events like corporate marathons for our team to participate in, and we offer free use of the well-equipped gym located at our premises. We also implement wellness into the infrastructure of Pininfarina itself by offering top health insurance plans for all employees that are improved year to year.

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?

Wellness in the workplace should be holistic and multifaceted, bringing each member of a team a unique, yet positive experience. As the Latin phrase “mens sana in corpore sano” says, we want each of our employees to be a sound mind in a sound body. By investing in the individual, you’re investing in building a community within your workforce, empowering your team to feel passionate about their work while developing their own skills.

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

We are constantly offering educational programs to our employees that are tailored to their needs and interests. From professional development and leadership to technology and design-specific training, we want to provide our employees with the resources they need to improve any skills or interests that allow them to thrive. In 2021 we invested more than 400 hours on training and development programs, which is an average of 25 hours per employee. And we will continue to invest in those programs.

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 foundation of our team comes from our diversity; It’s crucial to develop a team of different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge; from there, great ideas grow from the perspectives of each team member. We have a workforce with an average age of 34 that speaks 15 different languages, making each individual a valuable contribution to inspiring the culture of our workplace. I would advise employers to listen carefully to their employees and respond accordingly, ensuring everyone feels heard and valued. Also, the development and effective execution of the ESG framework will help the organization to set the direction and the roadmap to improve the workplace wellness.

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

  1. Avoid exploiting the work-from-home model. If implemented incorrectly, employees can feel burnt out and taken advantage of. Instead, celebrate the benefits of virtual workplaces (spending more time with family, more time to explore interests, etc.) while also emphasizing the importance of forming a community in the workplace.
  2. Simplify your IT system and get rid of the redundant virtual tools. Ensure that the virtual environment is seamless and efficient for employees to avoid frustration and setbacks, giving employees back valuable time.
  3. Get involved in your community, and ensure you stay involved. Find new ways for your team to leave the office with a common goal of giving back. Whether it be volunteering your time or raising funds, getting involved in community programming is a great way to boost team morale and strengthen your office’s connection to those around you.
  4. Value inclusivity and diversity as key factors in generating groundbreaking ideas. Celebrate the unique contributions and perspectives of each team member and empower them to bring new ideas and concepts to the table.
  5. Trust in your employees and support the growth of junior team members. Establish programs that supplement the expansion of the skillset and ensure that mentorship is a core element of your workplace model.

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

I feel hopeful that many organizations are finally adopting wellness as a priority in the workplace. Employers need to continue to put their team members at the center of their organization, not just valuing their productivity or skills, but their character and contributions as human beings. Community is everything, and the workplace is no exception.

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?

We enjoy sharing our initiatives across our website and social media, which readers can find below:

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