Communication in a hybrid workplace — As remote work continues to become popular, hybrid workers are faced with similar challenges switching between remote and in-person work. Communication is always going to be one of the most important pieces to workplace wellness, but when it comes to hybrid work environments, staying connected and keeping the door open for conversations is an integral piece of a hybrid environment.

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 Tate Hackert, Co-Founder and President of ZayZoon.

The brain behind ZayZoon, Tate developed the idea of providing access to funds before payday in 2013 along with the vision of bringing financial wellness to the masses and creating a social impact around the world. Now President of Zayzoon, Tate attended the University of Victoria to study Economics and completed his final semester at the City University of Hong Kong.

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 grew up in the commercial fishing industry. I once spent 43 days on a boat commercial fishing. It taught me the value of grit and determination. When you’re away from home for 40+ days, dealing with the power of the ocean, working long days, you’re in a seemingly never-ending groundhog day, which can wear on you physically and emotionally.

But, it teaches you that this too shall pass, which is a critical reminder to keep in mind while developing in life, whether it be with work or personally. It also teaches you communication. Being in closed quarters and sharing space with 2 other people helps with leadership and you ultimately need to tap into your EQ.

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 ZayZoon, our entire team receives a survey every 90 days. Similar to a Net Promoter Score, used to measure customer loyalty and satisfaction, we have an eNPS — employee net promoter score.

Our eNPS is a result of 2 simple questions:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to tell your friends and family that ZayZoon is a great place to work?
  2. Tell us why you chose that rating. What do you currently like and what would you like to see in order for ZayZoon to be an even better place to work?

As an executive team, we read every piece of feedback and set actions where necessary. We also distill the results (good and bad) and communicate this out to the entire ZayZoon team. This helps create a culture of transparency and accountability.

We pair this with a Quarterly Planning session and “Founders AMA” event shortly thereafter. This ensures that there are ample opportunities for team members to voice concerns, ask questions and provide input.

It’s this continued feedback loop that we are continually measuring to further our initiatives around employee wellness.

For context:

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’ve found that the most valuable ways to correlate and quantify our impact consists of surveys, data collection, and open communication. As previously mentioned, we use surveys on a regular basis to measure employee wellness. Additionally, utilizing baseline and continued data collection and open communication through 1:1s and AMA sessions have proven to be successful.

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?

It’s not always easy to invest in it — I get it. As someone who has a large team experiencing hyper-growth and various competing priorities, I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say it can be difficult to keep wellness at the top of mind.

The intention is always there, but sometimes weeks or months can go by and you realize you haven’t actually done anything to improve the wellness of your team. Here are some thoughts that I find useful:

  • Communicate
  • Engage with employees through surveys and interviews. Have an open dialogue.
  • Experiment
  • Build a culture of experimentation and have this extend to wellness too.
  • Find benefit programs that are easy to implement.
  • Jeff Bezos talks about 1-way door decisions, which are decisions that are difficult to reverse after making. Try to avoid making 1-way door decisions until necessary.
  • Give yourself the opportunity to fail fast.
  • Implement
  • After you’ve collected the data and felt the results from your experiments, then you need to embed it into the fabric of your company: awareness, repetition, and continued feedback.

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?

Much like how workplace culture goes far beyond an office with ping pong tables and a stocked fridge, wellbeing goes far beyond workplace programs and wellbeing-specific topics.

Workplace wellbeing is a pervasive cultural trait that needs to be built into the foundation of your company — not supplemented with wellbeing features.

In our recruitment and hiring process, we lean into 2 of our core values of People Driven and Trust. What really helps us here is that we are a company building a financial wellness platform, so employee wellness is baked into the fabric of who we are. We believe in what we are trying to do for our customers, and that empathy is reflected during our hiring process and speaks to how we treat our own employees. We have had many candidates (now employees) mention to us how that was a major factor in the hiring process.

Also our flexibility on remote/hybrid as well as not (in most of our roles) being a “this is the schedule you must work” empowers employees to find that “self-balance” and manage their own schedules to reduce stress. This improves wellness by employees being able to feel like they have flexibility when they need it.

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.

I don’t necessarily agree with the four-day work week or unlimited PTO, as I think both are symptoms of an unhealthy organization, not the solution to one. Instead, I would recommend taking a look at emotional/mental, physical, social, and financial wellness within the company. For emotional/mental wellness, we work to ensure internal meetings are valuable and run with an objective and key outcome in mind. We also utilize Slack and internal management software Jira and Confluence to manage our documentation and projects in an asynchronous manner. Ensuring that employees are able to work asynchronously, especially when they need it, is critical. Physically, taking walks or stepping outside as a refresher from the computer screen makes a world of difference. Socially, we are constantly staying connected and focusing on team building, even as a remote team. One example of this is our Friday Drink & Think sessions where we have employees (and sometimes special guests!) present on something they are passionate about. It’s a great way to lean into our core value of Mastery. Lastly, as a company offering financial wellness as a benefit, it is part of our team culture and we do regular pulse checks to ensure we’re making movement in the right direction towards financial health inside our own organization.

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 previously mentioned, communicating, experimenting and implementing ideas to improve employee wellness has proven to be effective for us. By communicating and engaging with your employees you can maintain an open conversation that fosters a healthy working relationship with every single employee. Experimenting with culture, idas, benefits, etc., presents numerous opportunities to grow, and maybe make some healthy mistakes along the way. Once you’ve figured out what works for your team, you can implement it and keep a constant cycle of communication and feedback flowing as you continue to grow.

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

What I’ve found to be one of the key pieces to supporting a “work well” culture is creating meaningful connections with a remote team, which has significantly impacted and driven engagement and wellness among our employees.

Additionally, empowering every single person with a safe and collaborative platform to voice their concerns, opinions, and ideas has also been a critical piece.

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?

Do a baseline pulse check and have an open dialogue about the results.

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

Financial health — Earned wage access provides employers with an opportunity to minimize financial stress with their employees and increase workplace wellness. ZayZoon has been proven to minimize workplace financial stress and improve productivity, employee retention and recruiting, and increased cost savings for companies. Focusing on employee financial wellness is the most important and effective trend to the future of workplace wellness.

Remote team building — Like so many of us over the past 2 years, ZayZoon has moved largely to remote work. Our team has had to evolve our best practices for managing remote employees, but utilizing tools and increasing communication, especially 1:1s, has proven to be effective in remote team-building. Ensuring that your team can stay connected and still develop meaningful working relationships is critical to fostering a healthy remote workplace.

Example :

Communication in a hybrid workplace — As remote work continues to become popular, hybrid workers are faced with similar challenges switching between remote and in-person work. Communication is always going to be one of the most important pieces to workplace wellness, but when it comes to hybrid work environments, staying connected and keeping the door open for conversations is an integral piece of a hybrid environment.

At ZayZoon, one of the many ways we ensure clarity in communication is through daily scrum: a 15-minute meeting every morning with every single ZayZoon team member.


Flexible benefit plans — The employee-first mindset is coming out on top after two years of a pandemic and people realizing the benefits they were getting might not be enough, or might not be the right ones. A pick-and-choose approach is something I see becoming more important as diversity in the workplace grows. No two people are the same — age, race, sex — which makes it difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all benefits package.

TeleHealth — The rise of remote work means the rise of remote services. Telehealth will become more prevalent. It just doesn’t make sense to take 2 hours of your day for a 30-minute appointment. Transportation to and from appointments, taking time off work — these are difficult for anyone, but especially for those living paycheck-to-paycheck.

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

The fact that conversations like this one are happening shows an immense shift in focus towards the importance of workplace wellness. What’s interesting is, like anything that gets repeated, a compounding effect occurs. Having open dialogue around the topics of workplace wellness and continuing this conversation is a true source of optimism for furthering the narrative moving forward.

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?

Connect with me on Twitter at @TateHackert and Linkedin: Tate Hackert

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