Providing paid time off for employees to attend therapy and medicine check appointments.

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 Kris Reynolds.

Kris Reynolds is the Managing Partner and CEO of Arrowhead Consulting. His training sessions are designed to challenge audiences to move beyond conventional thinking for true innovation and creative problem-solving. Audiences enjoy how Kris weaves his subject matter expertise with his love of pop culture and trivia for the perfect blend of education and entertainment.

Kris is a Six Sigma Black Belt and Project Management Professional (PMP). He earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Business Administration from Centenary College in Louisiana and a Master’s degree in Marketing from Oklahoma City University. Kris is currently an Adjunct Professor of Project Management at the University of Tulsa. He was awarded the 2022 Tulsa Small Business Summit Award for Entrepreneurial Success and recently published his first book, “Lessons from the Lemonade Stand: A Recipe for Entrepreneurial Happiness”.

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.

Early in my career, most of my time was spent working hard to climb the corporate ladder. I remember starting a new job at about the same time as soccer season began. Playing soccer for more than 40 years and coaching for more than 20 years, soccer is an important element of my life. I had coached two seasons with my daughter’s team but with the new job, my schedule wasn’t going to allow for me to continue as a coach. During that season, I realized I was missing out on something more important than work, not only spending time with my daughter but helping mentor her in a sport that had given me so much. I’m proud to say that was over 16 years ago and was the only season that I didn’t coach any of my three kids in the game we all love.

Fortunately, I learned early that the work will always be there, but the time with your family won’t. As such, I make sure to attend as many scheduled, and impromptu, family activities as I can. I still coach my youngest daughter’s soccer team on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and at games on Saturdays. On Wednesday evenings after work, I cook dinner for the family, often with my youngest serving as my sous chef. Like many families, I continue the tradition my parents set with Friday being a family pizza and movie night.

Work is still there when I come back to it. It typically gets priority after my family goes to bed before they get up in the morning, or maybe on weekends when they are busy with friends. There is time for both family and work, but I prioritize my time and opportunities with my family that I can’t make up if I miss them.

Harvard Business Review predicts that wellness will become the newest metric employers will use to analyze and assess their employees’ mental, physical and financial health. How does your organization define wellness, and how does your organization measure wellness?

At Arrowhead Consulting, we take a holistic approach to wellness inside our organization as we believe several facets need to be maintained to have a truly “healthy” employee.

Specifically, from a physical wellness standpoint, we have a gym on our floor for all employees to use. Our office kitchen is stocked with healthy snacks and is regularly used to prepare healthy lunches.

Rather than only donating money to non-profit organizations, we leverage our “Move Forward, by Giving Back” core value to engage in hands-on or physical volunteer activities in the community. We offer health, vision, and dental insurance as well as four weeks of paid time off to help when people aren’t feeling in their best physical shape.

From a mental wellness perspective, we have a library with books to suit almost any interest. We also have a Masterclass subscription that our employees use to explore topics ranging from Strategic Thinking to Dog Grooming. Having people to talk to and network with about things that are impacting your orbit is important for good mental health.

As a close-knit organization, we’ve often held impromptu “lunch-and-learns” to discuss some of the troubling events that have recently taken place in the world. We also have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that employees can leverage should they need outside guidance on things that are troubling them.

To aid in providing financial health to our employees, we provide competitive salaries, a shared bonus program (for hitting EBITDA targets), a 401k plan with a 4% match, and an EOY matching contribution to the charity of their choice. We try and go beyond these basics by being very transparent about the financial health of the organization, which allows the employees to be more educated about their financial future. I enjoy having discussions with my staff about non-competing side jobs they are doing or interested in pursuing (e.g., real estate) or other financial interests they have, (e.g., the stock market) guiding from what I’ve learned throughout my career as a serial entrepreneur.

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? 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. As a businessperson, 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?

I remember a sign growing up that said, “The Family that Plays Together, Stays Together”. I guess I’ve carried that over into our Core Value of “Work Hard, Play Hard”. Our team works diligently to provide the best service to our customers and meet their deliverable deadlines. While the outside-the-office “work-life balance” is important and is given a lot of attention, a similar “work-fun” balance in the organization is important as well. Our weekly “Friday Follies” time allows us to embrace healthy competition, whether that’s through a game of foosball, pool, Mario Kart, and other video games, or a popular board game. We also engage in fellowship by getting out of the office and giving back to the community. We may be missing billable work for the customer, but I feel the tradeoff we get through building stronger team relationships is a greater and sustainable return on productivity and ultimately, profitability.

The distance between intention and impact is action. For leaders who feel stuck, my advice is to err on the side of taking direct action to ensure that your employees know that your organization’s greatest asset is the people. The intention is the aim but without action, there is no impact. Make sure any action is done collaboratively. No one likes to be “voluntold” to do something. Work with your team to create a healthy program that fits the framework and culture of your organization. You don’t have to launch all the initiatives all at once. It’s okay to start small. The longest journey begins with the first step.

How are you incorporating wellness programs into your talent recruitment and hiring processes?

Wellness is a key element throughout our employee lifecycle. In the recruiting phase, we make sure prospective candidates learn about all that we offer in support of employee wellness. During the interview and onboarding process, we give them a tour of both our work and play areas, kitchen space, gym, and deli that they can use for healthy meals.

Once they are hired, new employees get a copy of our culture handbook. This is not to be confused with our more policy-laden employee handbook. Our commitment to the team, understanding stressors, and what work to delegate versus elevate are all described in the cultural handbook. It provides ways to ensure our people feel supported and stay motivated at work. 30, 60, and 90-day check-ins with me or our leadership team help to ensure communication is clear, consistent, and continual. This process has been well received, making sure the new employee is adjusting and acclimating to Arrowhead Consulting.

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:

This may not be a new concept or innovative, but we seek to normalize conversations about mental health within Arrowhead to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health topics. We are constantly looking for additional tools, resources, knowledge, and skills to further promote a mentally healthy workforce.

Emotional Wellness: We’re updating our handbooks with clear workplace guidelines for health and safety. This is helping us create a healthier workplace environment by developing processes for addressing prevention, early identification, support, and rehabilitation for distress, burnout, substance abuse, and other mental health concerns.

Social Wellness: We encourage all staff to join professional organizations, nonprofit boards, or other groups in the community tied to areas of interest. Community engagement activities are a regular team-building practice. We are also looking at putting together a company softball and/or bowling team.

Physical Wellness: In addition to having the full gym as part of our workspace, I have brought in a personal trainer to come train and guide our staff. This program, unfortunately, had to take a hiatus, but with a growing staff, this would be something good to start back up.

Financial Wellness: At Arrowhead, we have created our own Speaker’s Bureau, including a financial planner. We have scheduled an in-house lunch and learn opportunity for our staff to give them direction and advice for their financial future.

Additional Wellness items to create a positive work environment:

All team members can attend outside training that they find relevant to their professional growth. Team members are also welcome to attend any of our public training classes that interest them. All team members have a role in company new hire interviews as well as participate in our annual strategic planning sessions. We leverage EOS’ Delegate and Elevate activity which provides a check-in on work balance and stressors, making sure we can focus on work items that give us positive energy.

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?

  • Offering health plans with adequate coverage for mental health services and psychiatric medications.
  • Providing paid time off for employees to attend therapy and medicine check appointments.
  • Adding an organizational psychologist to your team to provide life coaching for employees.
  • Partnering with local mental health providers to offer free counseling on-site.
  • Facilitating support groups that allow employees to gather and discuss workplace mental health.

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

Working well is a part of our culture. We have consistent checks to ensure employees are taking ample time off through vacation/PTO. We make wellness a part of our annual evaluation process and pulse checks consistently throughout the year. These are all ways we are reskilling not just our leaders but all employees to know that their wellness matters.

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?

A hard look at your existing core values is a great place to start moving toward better wellness inside your organization. How do your existing mission, vision, and values speak to and incorporate wellness? What metrics will you use to determine the overall health of your organization? When you can get a clear picture of those questions you are on the road to overall organizational and employee health and wellness.

What are your “Top 4 Trends To Track In the Future of Workplace Wellness?”

  • Co-location offices with clinic/gym/daycare options (enticing people back to work who may still be hedging returning to the office).
  • Ensuring HR roles have some basic training around mental health/ trauma to be made available to employees.
  • Flexibility with workday — prioritizing opportunities to work from home during certain cycles of business (e.g., Summer when kids are out, seasonal business, etc.)
  • Incentivizing Wellness / Competition — giving employees wearable fitness devices and setting up in-office, voluntary competitions that reward employees to start and maintain a wellness program.

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

Workplace Wellness refocuses the organization back toward what is most important — its people. When we get intentional about caring for our people, our organization ultimately gets better.

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?

To learn more about me and my road to becoming a serial entrepreneur and small business owner, I have my first published book called, “Lessons from the Lemonade Stand — A Recipe for Entrepreneurial Happiness”.

To share thoughts on workplace wellness, I encourage them to contact me on Linked-In or they can email me at [email protected]

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