If you’re not building something you don’t need to be in the same room. We’re not building a model T, so being on an assembly line is no longer a benefit. Our workforce is one that thrives in their own environments and it has led to longer retention and happier employees.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan Tyler.
Mr. Tyler the founder & CEO of Jordan Digital Marketing, a pioneer of the remote workplace and a remote digital agency focusing on paid acquisition and organic digital marketing. It brings in-house levels of expertise to an agency setting with impeccable service. JDM has 31 total employees and has generated $7 million in sales since the launch of its business five years ago.
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 worked for a startup where the Founder & CEO preached that everyone was part of one big, happy family. At one point I got frustrated with the direction my team was going, I submitted my concerns to the anonymous feedback portal at the company, because I trusted the company and wanted to see things improve. I was fired the next week without any reason. That’s when I realized that no matter what a company says, the company is not your friend. I’ve grown to realize that’s not a bad thing, as long as you don’t preach your company as “family”.
Work should be a mutually beneficial relationship built on trust and respect so that both parties can advance their own interests. If you’re not getting what you need to get out of the company, or if the company is not getting what it needs to get out of you, then something needs to change. Companies are not families, they’re more like sports teams that need to be able to rely on one another to be successful, and if the company is successful the employee is successful.
My experience working in a toxically positive startup culture led me to this realization and it has shaped how I think about my own company and how we consider employee wellness.
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?
Our company defines wellness as general happiness or contentment with one’s job. The opposite of wellness would be overwhelming stress. We advocate for mental and physical wellbeing as well as the financial well-being of all of our employees. We also focus on building out clear paths for people to advance, which may sound like it’s not related to wellness, but in my experience, ambiguity about your career or your position within a company is a great source of stress for a lot of people.
We offer our team a health and wellness benefit that they can use on things like gym memberships, peloton memberships, monthly massages to help alleviate stress that may come up, or anything else that they need to feel refreshed and well.
We also create an environment where people know where they stand within the company and understand what they need to do to make the next step to further their career to help avoid unnecessary stress. I think the biggest factor that hurts wellness is the unknown aspects of a job. We try to avoid that by being as transparent as possible with our teams and people.
For financial wellness we offer 401k match, HSA, and FSA options for all employees, and for parents, we offer 529 College Savings options and dependent care FSAs so you can use pre-tax money to save for childcare and to start planning for their future.
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 regularly ask our team “How likely they are you to recommend JDM as a great place to work.” We use that a barometer of how well we are fulfilling on our promise of creating a productive, healthy workspace. We don’t generally think about this in terms of productivity or profitability, we view it more as a moral obligation, and the rest is just icing on the cake. I always try to think about how I would want to be treated if I just got a job at my company, and I try to act in a way that would make me want to continue working here and keep me engaged. Happy people are less likely to leave, and more likely to be successful, and to help others excel.
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?
- Retaining employees is always going to be cheaper than finding someone new, having your team take time away from their work to train them, and spending months on new hire training. We just went through the great resignation and are still going through it. People are choosing to not work, rather than work for a company or in a job that they don’t like. Right now, companies have to do more than they did in the past to retain employees, and a lot of that is about aligning with their values and understanding who they are as people and what their motivations are. Companies for too long have been able to force people into working situations that didn’t work for the employee, didn’t align with their values or interests, but with the expansion of remote work, and a generational shift in working mentality, companies now more than ever have to do the right thing and consider the human rather than the only considering the employee and their output. Work is changing and more than ever it’s about an alignment of interests and I think that’s a great thing.
- Promoting employee wellness is a major factor in considering the human in work. We’re in a job seekers world and we need to attract employees by making sure that they feel comfortable and happy so that they can produce at a high level.
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 have a home office stipend when employees get started so that they can make their home workspace as comfortable as possible. Once employees start here, they get a monthly health and wellness stipend, summer Fridays, unlimited PTO, and of course we cover 100% of employee health care, dental, and vision. For our employees that are parents, we offer college savings funds, and dependent care FSAs to help alleviate some of the financial stress that comes with caring for children as a remote company we’ve always taken the money we save on office rent and put it directly into our employee benefits and perks, and it’s been a major win for us
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: Meditation apps (Headspace and Calm) are offered by our company’s insurance plans, and we’ve encouraged people to use them. Offering days off and time away to overworked employees has been a great way to lower the temperature when people get overworked.
- Emotional Wellness: Unlimited PTO, summer Fridays, and a lot of holidays. Taking time off to remain fresh has been a huge win for us, because our employees are able to operate at an extremely high level because they have the space to recharge when they need to.
- Social Wellness: Our company has raised $1,000s for causes that our teams have highlighted as important to them, raising money for charities in the wake of the George Floyd killing, supporting organizations focused on stopping AAPI hate, and donating to organizations helping feed and care for Ukrainian refugees. Our company has matched every donation dollar for dollar because we want to make sure that our team’s concerns are shared by the company and that we stand up in support of our employees.
- Physical Wellness: The health and wellness stipend at our company has been a huge selling point in hiring since the early days of the company, it goes towards gym memberships and more recently a lot of Peloton memberships
- Financial Wellness: We’ve been matching 401k spending since we were a 12-person company, and we’ve actively advocated for our team to take care of their financial future. We also offer 529 pre-tax college savings plans, and dependent care FSAs for parents to help use pre-tax dollars for taking care of their children. Each of these things is a small benefit that we can offer to our employees, but together than can be extremely powerful for the financial wellness of our people.
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?
- In each of our two most recent employee surveys 100% of our employees have said that they recommend Jordan Digital Marketing LLC as a great place to work.
- Employees have stated wellness-based perks as reasons they stay with the company
- In Glassdoor reviews employees have mentioned that feeling part of a team, and feeling heard as pro’s for working here
How are you reskilling leaders in your organization to support a “Work Well” culture?
We haven’t really had to reskill any of our leaders to match a wellness-based culture because it’s always been part of our DNA. Part of having a wellness-based culture means promoting form within and supporting your people, so everyone in leadership positions came up through our culture rather than coming in and having to adopt it. We’ve always tried to consider the human rather than simply the employee in all our decision making.
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?
Start surveying your team to understand what they actually want. Don’t assume you know what is best for others, or you are already working against a work well culture. Ask people what they want and try to find ways to adopt their suggestions completely, or ways that you can work in that direction.
What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”
- If you’re not building something you don’t need to be in the same room. We’re not building a model T, so being on an assembly line is no longer a benefit. Our workforce is one that thrives in their own environments and it has led to longer retention and happier employees.
- Our health and wellness stipend has allowed people to take on gym memberships, Peloton memberships, or to get massages. They get $100 each month for whatever benefits their personal wellness.
- Unlimited PTO & Sumer Fridays. If you need a personal day, take a personal day, if you’re burnt out take a week off and recharge. We believe in a workplace based on trust and transparency, as long as your time off is not at the expense of other employees health and wellness, we advocate for time off. You just need to share vacation photos! At the end of the day, if people are burned out they can’t perform at their peak, give people space to stay happy and refreshed so they can do their best work and the whole organization wins.
- Workcation bonuses. One of my favorite things about remote work is that I can extend vacations and work from paradise for a week. So we introduced the Workcation Bonus, which is a bonus that allows people to extend their stays in other cities by up to a week and work from their hotel or Airbnb while the company flips the bill (or at least part of it) on their place to stay.
- Subsidizing Meditation apps. We have been able to subsidize Headspace and Calm subscriptions through our insurance plans, for the people who use it they absolutely love it! I’m a huge advocate for mindfulness and meditation, and I don’t think we would have made it this far if I didn’t personally have that outlet for my stress.
What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of workplace wellness?
I expected remote work to take over the course of a 5–10 year period, but one of the few benefits of a global pandemic has been that the world got to see all that is possible with remote work. People save time on commutes, can spend more time with their families, define their own work schedule, and performance and output actually improve as a result. One thing that was seen as so taboo when we started doing it 5 years ago has now gone mainstream, and I think the world is better for it. Think of all the pollution that is not going in the air because commuters are off the road, the reduction in traffic, the impact that allowing parents to be with their kids more will have on their lives! Remote work is not for everyone, but for those of us who thrive in that setting, there is no going back, and I think it’s amazing.
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?
Check out our blog (https://www.jordandigitalmarketing.com/blog) where we write about marketing and remote work. Follow us on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/company/jordan-digital-marketing) for updates on remote work and our culture as well
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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.