Flexible Work: Work and life are more intertwined than they have ever been. Employees check their emails on their phones and receive after-hours texts/IMs. In kind, employees want the opportunity to manage their time by flexing hours and working remotely. Supporting these trends will allow employees to prioritize their doctor visits, utilize gym memberships, and find time and energy for wellness.

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 Rebecca Rogers.

Rebecca Rogers has a decade of experience partnering with HR teams to deliver meaningful employee engagement and strategic results through enterprise mentoring and well-being initiatives. She is currently researching the influence mentoring has on employee resiliency through increased connectedness and its role in improving employee satisfaction and retention.

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.

When I started working with MentorcliQ, I had a supervisor with a high IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence) who picked up on the Type A, pressure cooker that I naturally am. He was great at motivating the team based on their individual needs and for me, he emphasized patience. He helped me understand how to best blend work and life by encouraging use of PTO, and asking about my family. His tailored guidance helped me slow down, prioritize projects that make a big impact, and practice making time for those things that we love to do — those things that keep us from getting burnt out. This perspective is imperative if I want to develop my career and live/work well.

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?

MentorcliQ focuses on a shift in workplace well-being trends: integrating employee well-being into the employee workflow, rather than relying mostly on stand-alone initiatives that aren’t tied to the role of an employee.

What does a workflow well-being initiative look like?

At MentorcliQ, employee engagement, satisfaction, and inclusivity are top-down priorities, which allows us to bring more of our authentic selves to work. With that, we’re provided ample opportunity to create spaces we need to thrive. I launched our Well-Being Circle a few years ago where we focused on the five pillars of well-being. We met during work hours and, almost as important as the space itself, at least one member of our C-suite actively participated — a true sign that it was okay to engage with these employee initiatives. In tandem, others started a Parents at Work Circle, a Silo Buster program, and a Remote Work Circle that are open to anyone at the organization.

Additionally, our feedback on process improvements to make our jobs easier is taken seriously. It’s not a 5k run, but having the ability to remove workplace obstacles is a huge weight lifted and gives us the energy to actually get on the rower after work!

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?

Holistic well-being impacts every organization’s bottom line. There’s so much research connecting holistic well-being with productivity, lower rates of absenteeism, and increased resiliency that prevents burnout.

Overlooking one or many of the pillars leads to employee burnout and turnover. It’s easy for companies to overlook these because the impact isn’t realized overnight. But without holistic well-being, employees are not showing up and doing the work you need them to. They feel stressed, and if they can’t find a fix within your organization, they start taking other job opportunities more seriously.

Where is this most easily seen in the context of profitability? Bear in mind the cost of replacement can be as much as 2X that employee’s salary. You can bet you’re losing money if you’re not prioritizing employee well-being in your culture because employees will leave for a company that does. At MentorcliQ we’re over the moon about our employee retention, especially through the Great Resignation, and I contribute that to the integrated workflow approach I mentioned earlier.

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?

Especially given post-pandemic well-being needs, leaders need to start shifting their perspectives on workplace wellness to make it easier for employees to engage. Employer wellness programs are an uphill battle because they typically ask employees to prioritize non-work initiatives while they’re at work. The cognitive dissonance impacts buy-in.

Rather, let’s start strategizing wellness by asking, “What can we enhance in an employee’s day-to-day experience that will open up space for them to take ownership of their own well-being?” Solving workflow challenges, prioritizing social connections, practicing empathy from the top down — this is integrated employee well-being.

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?

The candidate experience begins long before candidates speak with a MentorcliQ recruiter. We highlight our values, benefits, and the causes we support right up-front on our website and social media in order to stand out in a competitive talent market. Talent trends show us that candidates are asking deeper questions about a company’s culture and how they invest in their people. Our amazing recruiting teams are aware of this and are not only prepared to answer questions, but because it’s something we genuinely appreciate about MentorcliQ, we find ourselves bringing it up naturally. For example, we talk to candidates extensively about how we engage remote employees, our employee-driven Circles, our office with stationary bike chairs, our schedule flexibility, etc.

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: Therapy is very accessible at MentorcliQ. Our health plan includes free remote therapy to support employees no matter where they are. My favorite MentorcliQ trend is having therapy appointments visible on calendars. Just five years ago, those would have been hidden. If you want to reduce the stigma on mental health in the workforce, your calendar is an easy, integrated place to start.
  • Emotional Wellness: We have a mentoring program called CliQ Care to provide confidential support and a listening ear to all employees. I also need to give kudos to our leadership team. Their transparency and openness to listening creates an emotionally safe work environment.
  • Social Wellness: MENTORING. If travel is the antidote to prejudice, then mentoring is the remedy for social wellness at work. Participants in our programs constantly share how they have more respect for other roles and departments after being in a mentoring partnership. That sort of networking is invaluable for engagement and career development.
  • Physical Wellness: If your office doesn’t have stationary bike seats, you’re missing out! We also have a treadmill desk, and I’ve been known to do walking meetings with colleagues (on the phone or in-person). In addition, flexible work hours enable employees to integrate exercise, meditation, etc. into their work day. Some of my colleagues even have standing exercise times blocked on their calendars.
  • Financial Wellness: In addition to the 401k match & advisor we have access to, I love our CliQ Give program. With CliQ Give, MentorcliQ matches employee charitable donations. I’ve taken it upon myself to give donations in someone’s name as a gift, knowing I can double the gift with the help of MentorcliQ!

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?

Aligning as many of your initiatives with what employees are showing up to do (i.e. work) will create a sense of autonomy to opt-in to wellness, which we know is especially important in the U.S. If you give employees the tools to be more active at work (standing desks, stationary bike chairs, etc.) those tools will get used. If empathetic leadership is practiced from the top down, you’ll see more ideas being brought forward because employees feel safe doing so. If your managers have therapy visual on their calendars, your employees will be more likely to find the help they need. The best part about these? Little to no cost!

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

Our People Operations team is active in sharing employee feedback, priorities, and perspectives with organizational leaders, including our CEO. One example of a new employee benefit that came out of this feedback is our CliQ Give program. Additionally, leaders throughout the organization “lead by example” with flexible schedules, taking vacation time, and celebrating personal milestones during company meetings (e.g. new babies, bucket list trips). Because mentoring and wellness are so intertwined, we find ourselves talking about it. Our leadership team is able to stay updated on trends, new initiatives, and employee perspectives.

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?

In our post-pandemic world, social connections as a key talent strategy cannot be overlooked. Three in five U.S. employees show up to work thinking their supervisor, or anyone else at work, doesn’t care about them as a person. Even pre-pandemic, Cigna reported that 3 in 5 Americans feel lonely, left out, poorly understood, and lack companionship. Without this basic human need being taken care of in the place where most of us spend the majority of our time, the other pieces will struggle to fall into place.

To do this with easy employee buy-in, make sure all employees have access to a mentoring program and prioritize making it scalable.

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

  1. Flexible Work: Work and life are more intertwined than they have ever been. Employees check their emails on their phones and receive after-hours texts/IMs. In kind, employees want the opportunity to manage their time by flexing hours and working remotely. Supporting these trends will allow employees to prioritize their doctor visits, utilize gym memberships, and find time and energy for wellness.
  2. Social Connections: Loneliness isn’t a buzzword, it’s a reality. The pandemic emphasized the loneliness we’re experiencing, partially due to the digital transformation. To counteract it, employers need to create intentional and meaningful connections in a scalable way. This is especially true in a more virtual world!
  3. Digital Balance: The impact of having a computer in our pocket and social media’s negative impact on our psychology will be a huge conversation at work over the next decade. Companies will have to explore how to help their employees find a digital balance by setting “don’t send emails during the holiday weekend” expectations and offering non-e-learning development opportunities.
  4. Purpose: Checking in that employees are feeling fulfilled with their work, that their work has meaning, and that they are progressing within their work will increase resiliency and retention. This is another undervalued benefit of mentoring. While someone’s role may stay the same, talking to a colleague with different experiences progresses personal perspectives and can help employees feel more engaged and fulfilled.
  5. Caring for Caretakers: More and more employees are finding themselves caring for children and parents — another responsibility that drains much-needed energy for the increasing demands of work. The need to prioritize someone else’s well-being over our own will be a blocker to employee well-being. Supporting employees in these circumstances will be a critical initiative, especially for employers looking to retain women in their workforce, as caretaking often falls within their workload. Flexible schedules are a place to start, but there’s so much more to explore here.

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

My clients. They show me every week how much energy, time, and resources they are putting into employees. They’re working swiftly and flexibly to move their company cultures toward people-oriented solutions because they care about the people they work with. That commitment will go a long way.

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?

Please 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.