Work/Life Balance: Despite employees working remotely more than ever before, they might not necessarily have the opportunity to enjoy time with their families. Working from home and playing with your children at home are two very different things. In the future, there will be more opportunities for employees be productive and get their work done, but also find more time to spend with their loved ones.
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 Jon Zacharias.
Jon Zacharias is the Co-Founder of GR0, a focused, dedicated and committed digital marketing agency that will “GR0” your brand online. He has over a decade of experience working in organic SEO and his agency was named “Fastest Growing Company of the Year” by the American Business Awards.
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.
Following my graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I began a law degree at the California Western School of Law in San Diego, CA. While in law school, I started in a position with a local wage and hour class action law firm, where I utilized not just my growing knowledge of judicial practice, but also my business and marketing experience. I quickly noticed how search engine optimization was an amazing tool for driving client acquisition.
I eventually became more interested in acquiring cases through the modern practice than actually litigating them, and decided I would pursue a career learning how to best utilize Google instead.
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?
At GR0, we strive to create a work culture that supports mental, emotional, social, and physical wellness by implementing “The Golden Rule.” In addition to treating clients the way that we want to be treated, we do the same for our employees. I believe that this is the cornerstone of a strong work culture because it always yields great results and a positive outcome. We measure wellness by regularly checking in with our entire team to see how they are doing in their professional and personal lives.
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?
I cannot emphasize the importance of communication throughout our entire team. It is essential to truly listen to what our employees are looking for in an ideal workplace; knowing that information, we can make the necessary adjustments from the top down. These adjustments are what will guarantee increased productivity and profitability. By living with this mentality on a daily basis, leadership at GR0 will always focus on the best ways to improve wellness for our employees today and forever.
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 way that I see it, if you cannot create a work environment that promotes wellness for your employees, you will find that soon enough you will not have any employees left to manage. Especially in the midst of the Great Resignation, employees are looking to work at organizations that promote employee wellness. If you choose to not invest in wellness programs, be prepared to lose potentially incredible talent to an organization that does.
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?
Throughout the talent recruitment and hiring process, we encourage potential and new hires to be vocal with management about ways that we can do better. We implement an open-door policy at GR0, and invite all employees, new and tenured, to be honest with us at all times. We especially want to know if members of our team are going through difficult periods in their lives, because we want to be able to accommodate their needs in every way that we can. Finally, we also offer benefits to our employees that include mental health support as well.
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: We offer guided support programs outside the office for employees who are experiencing work-related stress issues.
- Emotional Wellness: To create a psychologically safe space for employees, we emphasize that any signs of intimidation, bullying, or sexual harassment contradict our corporate values and will not be tolerated.
- Social Wellness: We foster social connections by participating in group activities, such as “lunch and learn” sessions, where we enjoy a meal together and simply get to know each other without focusing on work.
- Physical Wellness: By offering employees memberships to nearby gyms, yoga studios, and other fitness facilities, we are encouraging our team to take a vested interest in their physical health.
- Financial Wellness: We track metrics such as employee morale, financial stress, and retention, to improve the value of workplace financial wellness for all employees.
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?
As I mentioned before, if your employees can see that you are not taking a sincere interest in their wellness, they are going to be less inclined to work for you. People want to be fulfilled in their work, and wellness is one characteristic of that sense of fulfillment. Think of wellness as a five-piece pie — mental, emotional, social, physical, and financial. One or two slices might taste good, but you need to be serving your employees the whole pie. That is what is going to keep them working as their best selves.
How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?
Because we communicate so openly as an organization, all of our leadership is aware of our values and what we represent as a company. Honestly, there is not a lot of reskilling that needs to be done because we are all very much on the same page. The key is to be available to our team, so that we can get feedback about any areas where we might need to improve as leaders.
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 decision to get well needs to come from within. As an organization, we can do our best to offer wellness opportunities to our team. Our sincere desire is that they want to incorporate them into their lives.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to realize that we want, or need, to improve ourselves and be well. At GR0, understand that, and are there to give support if an employee is in that position as well.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”
i. Emphasis on Hybrid Work Models: We have seen that working from home can reduce stress, and in turn, increase wellness. However, coming into the office is also beneficial because it increases social connections among the team. Organizations need to be accepting of this by offering flexibility to employees.
ii. Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga: Guided practices will become more prevalent in the workplace. Time will be set aside for teams to take an instructed yoga or meditation class by a professional as a way to reduce anxiety, improve mental clarity, and reduce distractions.
iii. Non-Work-Related Team Building: Organization-wide meals and activities will be the perfect opportunity for employees to strengthen social relationships without having to think about work. The important thing is to create a situation where people feel comfortable enough to be themselves and bond with their co-workers and management.
iv. Financial Wellness Check-Ins: Financial concerns are nothing new. I feel that in the future there will be an emphasis on management corresponding with employees to ensure that finances are not negatively influencing the personal or professional life of the employee.
v. Work/Life Balance: Despite employees working remotely more than ever before, they might not necessarily have the opportunity to enjoy time with their families. Working from home and playing with your children at home are two very different things. In the future, there will be more opportunities for employees be productive and get their work done, but also find more time to spend with their loved ones.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?
The pandemic has caused a global shift in consciousness around why wellness is important. The whole world stopped and took time to reflect about what really matters; an emphasis on increased wellness is a byproduct of that. I believe that this appreciation for wellness, and becoming a better person each day, will be a continuing trend. I am hopeful for the future, and am excited to see what it will bring.
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?
Feel free to follow along with GR0 at (https://gr0.com/) and my own personal website, (https://jonzacharias.com/).
Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and wellness.