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The Company Culture Transformation is Happening

Employee choice is everything

Colleen Reilly //December 14, 2018//

The Company Culture Transformation is Happening

Employee choice is everything

Colleen Reilly //December 14, 2018//

A client and I spoke at a wellbeing industry event last month and after we both found out that the biggest surprise of the event was learning that companies are only just now catching on to the trend. Indeed, organizations that reward healthy choices create a more humanistic workplace. This translates into increased engagement, better working relationships, increased productivity and innovation and boosted revenues. 

It's true, some companies are slow to evolve. What we spoke of at the conference and what audience members were eager to hear was that focusing on people can provide an organization a true marketplace advantage. While many organizations still operate under the assumption that they are too busy for these softer initiatives or the business of wellbeing gets delegated to people who don't really care or don't have influence across the organization, our "Three key trends and five best practices" presentation struck a mighty chord. Dated initiatives like penalizing employees for poor lifestyle choices doesn't work, but proven innovation backed by research and data does.

The three key trends we covered:

1. The employee experience encapsulates what people encounter, observe or feel over the course of their employee journey at an organization. Today, thriving companies know that employee wellbeing is no longer a nice-to-have as millennials take on leadership roles and Generation Z joins the workplace.

2. Wellbeing is not a program, but a cultural norm. Wellbeing must be a part of the culture, the organization and individual health.

3. Health-care premium discounts for participation in a wellbeing culture do not lead to behavioral change and will not save on costs. Choice, however, can inspire behavior change that is sustainable.

The industry's message and the client's leadership message were the same: It is the responsibility of leaders to create environments where people can discover their gifts, develop their gifts and share their gifts – to be recognized and appreciated for doing so. This doesn't naturally come to all leaders and managers. Training and development and feedback loops make a difference. Leaders set the tone for their organization, while management's behavior determines whether interactions in their organizations are characterized by the company's core values.

As a global company with a forward-thinking leader, the aim is to develop a culture that supports wellness and a program that is inclusive of the audience and includes something to meet the wants and needs of all employees.

This started by gathering data and producing a global wellbeing audit. The results produced the mission and goals of the initiative, focusing on what the employees wanted and needed. This branded the backbone of the program: "5 Pillars of Health & Wellbeing," a holistic approach to address physical, financial, social and community wellness, as well as career and purposeful success.

A healthy environment, including nutrient-rich food at work, standing desks and other small but meaningful additions or subtractions to the office can make a difference. So, too, can a wellness savings account. This transformational invention allows employees to use the dollars on what's most meaningful to them. Some employees use it for yoga or gym memberships, while others use it for pet care, eldercare or childcare. Others use it for healthy food delivery or life coaching. 


Focusing on the full employee experience by providing choice and creating the conditions to support and inspire each employee to bring their best selves to work, personally and professionally, results in a win-win-win.

Financial health includes 401k match, but also resources and advisory support. Surprisingly, educational lunch-n-learns are not effective to help employees increase their financial acumen and change spending habits. 

Community volunteering is also important to employees and the initiative suggested that companies should provide at least 24 hours of paid volunteer time to all employees, as well as matching donations to organizations that employees resonate with. It is no longer a one-size-fits-all model in which the entire company must give to a specifically designated cause. Caring about our team, the success of our clients and the fabric of our community creates an authentic cycle of care all around.

Social relationships are critical as well. Something like a game room can go a long way toward facilitating inclusion and belonging, which is critical for thriving both personally and professionally.   

Having a sense of purpose is essential to well-being. Equally important is having a sense of purpose in your work to keep you inspired. Prioritizing relevant training and development is a part of this client's fabric and culture; so is offering a generous tuition reimbursement program to aid long-term employee learning.    

Attendees of the conference lined up to pepper us with questions, fueled with inspiration to go back to their organizations and begin concentrating on wellbeing as a strategic initiative that could be just part of the way they do business. This means a fusion across leadership, middle management, operations HR from talent acquisition, on-boarding, career path development, to even exiting the organization, must occur. It truly is a win-win-win formula for the employees, the employer and the community.