ORGANIZATIONS WILL BUILD TRUST IN HYBRID MODELS. Some companies still struggle to embrace hybrid models, but modern employee wellbeing demands options for where, when and how employees work, when possible. Successful managers will let go of fear and control and instead establish high-functioning hybrid workforces that prioritize organization, accountability and open communication.

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 Liz Pavese, Ph.D.

Liz Pavese, Ph.D., is the director of behavioral science (N. America) for CoachHub, the leading global talent development platform. At CoachHub, Liz marries her expertise in organizational psychology, employee experience and organizational development to close the gap between coaching research and practice. Prior to CoachHub, Liz’s work as a director of organizational development, external talent consultant, and leader in HR tech has centered on supporting organizational transformation through building employee listening strategies, assessing and supporting culture transformation, transforming performance management, delivering 360-degree feedback programs and designing talent reviews and succession planning.

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.

A couple of years ago, I went through several significant life changes, simultaneously. My longtime partner and I divorced and, at the same time, I accepted a new job that required a cross-country move. Two weeks after my arrival on the West Coast, COVID-19 shut down much of the world. In other words, just about every aspect of my life changed in a matter of months. As an organizational psychologist and coach, I know that stress depletes energy, zaps motivation and diminishes productivity in the workplace. But experiencing this was profound. I sought out help — therapy for solution-oriented work (aka fixing things that weren’t working) and business coaching for more forward-looking growth and goal achievement. My experience underscored the importance of what I had spent my career doing and helped me understand and what my training taught me: Wellbeing is a prerequisite to unleashing a person’s full potential.

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 company I work for, CoachHub, is committed to coaching as behavioral science. Consequently, we tend to follow the World Health Organization (WHO)’s definition of wellbeing: “Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

One special thing about CoachHub is we live our product. Every employee, regardless of seniority or department, gets free and unlimited use of the company’s coaching platform, which provides certified business coaches and regular, one-on-one coaching sessions. What does this have to do with measurement? The platform not only provides live coaching via video chat, but it also allows stakeholders (usually HR teams) to track the workforce’s goal achievement, satisfaction, participation and other KPIs. While this data is always aggregated and completely confidential, it sometimes uncovers surprising insights about the workforce’s overall wellbeing and a coaching program’s impact on the employee population.

Of course, not all workplaces have access to turnkey digital tools. In that case, I suggest leaders send out a regular cadence of pulse surveys that gather wellbeing statistics. Executives can tailor these anonymous questionnaires to assess stress levels, employee satisfaction, psychological safety and a variety of other issues. And, armed with this intelligence, they can build targeted wellness programs, set relevant goals and ultimately turn the dial on workplace wellness.

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?

Too many business leaders ignore unhappy, unmotivated employees in an effort to save on the bottom line, only to pay the price with low productivity and high turnover. As economic volatility increases and budgets tighten, I urge executives to continue investing in their employees’ wellbeing. We have to consider fundamental human behavior to help our people and companies flourish. Do people excel at their jobs (or anything, for that matter) when they’re exhausted, stressed or disengaged from the task at hand? Absolutely not. Supporting mental health and wellbeing can counter burnout and create a ripple of positivity that completely transforms organizations. A great place to start when looking to assess impact and identify where the opportunities exist is to listen — be it through employee surveys, focus groups, town halls, or other passive measures. Gather the data and insights from your employees, look at scores on engagement or other experience surveys and use that to get unstuck.

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?

During CoachHub’s hiring process, our talent acquisition team goes into a deep dive discussion with prospective employees about our pay, benefits and culture during the first round of interviews. Once a prospective employees makes their way to the final round of the job interview, CoachHub presents our candidates with a presentation deck to outline pay, benefits and our coaching and wellbeing offerings.

According to Deloitte, flexibility is the most important attribute offered by potential employers. Offering flexibility during the hiring process shows empathy and understanding.

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: CoachHub establishes a caring culture that helps the company flourish. We do this not just with happy hours but with meaningful and purposeful work, flexible schedules, remote offices and free coaching services. Kind, smart, highly-skilled leadership and colleagues from across the globe also challenge — and support — each other to rethink people development.
  • Emotional Wellness: Although the modern workforce demands flexibility, studies show that remote team members are more likely to feel disconnected compared to their in-office counterparts. As a highly remote team, CoachHub works to boost its employees’ sense of belonging and encourages collaboration to prevent isolation. We’re all on a mission to do better in how to manage virtual teams and reinforce the company’s values. It’s about progress, not perfection. It also helps that we all rally around a shared mission: to democratize coaching.
  • Social Wellness: At CoachHub, we believe in giving back, and we make those positive contributions by doing what we do best: coaching. Our CoachHub4Good program offers aid organizations immediate access to our network of top-tier coaches, completely free of charge. We also give employees the opportunity for paid leave to volunteer at their preferred organization because doing good is beneficial to the mind and the world.
  • Physical Wellness: We offer 150 (in currency of location) annual reimbursement for an app of choice for physical or mental wellbeing to employees. This offering helps boost self care in the field of fitness, mindfulness, meditation, nutrition, mental health and general wellbeing.
  • Financial Wellness: We offer a mix of base pay, potential for bonus and virtual share options to employees. In some countries we offer 401k programs and financial wellness support through access to an Employee Assistance Program.

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?

Wellbeing in the workplace drives organizational performance. Why? For starters, engaged employees usually show up for work without taking excessive sick days or racking up extended absentees. Satisfied, motivated employees also tend to have longer tenures at their jobs, reducing resource-intensive employee turnover. I already touched on the monumental increase in productivity, innovation and engagement. If that’s not enough, it’s also worth noting: millennials, the generation making up half of the global workforce, prioritize wellbeing more than any previous generation. To recruit competitively, organizations must showcase workplace wellness initiatives like specialized wellbeing programs, flexible schedules, hybrid options and clear paths for growth.

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

Workplace wellness is an integral part of an organization’s recruiting and talent management strategy, so educating and engaging senior leadership is essential. I think presenting the “why” is a good place to start, and that’s where the previously mentioned pulse surveys can be effective. Does the data show areas where wellbeing is waning and thriving? And then, why do we need to address this issue? Data outlining the remarkable impact of wellbeing on work can help get leadership on board. After establishing the general importance of wellness, professionals should help executives on the intersection of wellbeing challenges like motivating remote teams, navigating employees’ work/life boundaries and supporting diverse and often dispersed employees. This shift in mindsets and altering behavior will require additional support.

In 2022, we are planning to bring our leaders together in Berlin for our Annual Summit to discuss leadership behaviors to best support their growth as well as employee growth. We are also working on building out a leadership development program that we plan to launch in Q4 of 2022.

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?

While I fervently believe in the power of business coaching, I realize not every organization has a coaching platform — yet! Businesses without coaching services can borrow from proven coaching science. In coaching, we often focus on foundational skills, also called soft skills. For example, how can stressed-out employees manage their days to improve wellbeing and productivity? Managers might encourage employees to reflect on their performance over a period of time to examine what went well and what went poorly. How could employees improve those negative outcomes? Supervisors can support employees in better planning and prioritizing their actions before jumping into a busy day and breaking down goals into manageable steps. Continuous work on foundational skills can help individuals maintain workplace wellness and move forward on their career journey.

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

  1. CHROS WILL BECOME THE NEXT CEOS — AND THAT’S GOOD FOR WORKPLACE WELLBEING. Today’s CHROs are tech savvy, visionary, transparent and agile. And they have the unique ability to lead with empathy. Although few CHROs make the leap to CEO, this will change — especially as continuous workplace change demands more astute people leadership.
  2. COACHING WILL FURTHER OPTIMIZE RESULTS, THANKS TO AI. Some coaching providers use artificial intelligence (AI) to match learners with their ideal coaches, and data shows that good pairings increase positive coaching outcomes. Tech-forward coaching providers will take AI a step further, pinpointing suitable matches (and maximizing results) by inputting data on the type of learning and development goal, length of time to goal achievement and preferred coaching approach.
  3. MORE ORGANIZATIONS WILL GIVE THEIR EMPLOYEES A VOICE IN ORGANIZATIONAL DECISIONS. As companies look for ways to increase wellbeing in the workplace, leaders will turn to employees to help shape the business. This empowerment gives employees a stake in their workplace and can help businesses, too. After all, employees have a unique understanding of the workplace’s overall health.
  4. ORGANIZATIONS WILL BUILD TRUST IN HYBRID MODELS. Some companies still struggle to embrace hybrid models, but modern employee wellbeing demands options for where, when and how employees work, when possible. Successful managers will let go of fear and control and instead establish high-functioning hybrid workforces that prioritize organization, accountability and open communication.
  5. COACHING WILL HELP RETAIN AND PREVENT BURNOUT AMONG HIGH-POTENTIAL EMPLOYEES. Leaders often search for ways to engage and retain their high-performing employees, and high-quality learning and development programs will increasingly be the answer. For example, ongoing coaching helps high-performers level up on gaps and find strategies to curb burnout, prepping them for future leadership positions while demonstrating their value to the organization.

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

We’re learning more about how to improve workplace wellbeing. Last year, a meta-analysis looked across several studies to determine which psychologically informed approach yields the best coaching outcomes. I found the results particularly fascinating because an integrative coaching approach — combining various methodologies — had the highest impact on outcomes, compared to any single-focused methodology. And some methodologies were better suited for long-term goal achievement while others work better in the short term. These findings will shape the future of coaching and only make it more effective.

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?

I encourage readers to reach out and follow me on LinkedIn.

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