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These companies are handling employee well-being like a boss

Posted by Neha De

February 24, 2022    |     5-minute read (966 words)

A poll by NPR shines a light on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the day-to-day lives of Americans. Conducted Aug. 2 - Sept. 7, 2021, the study aimed in particular to home in on the state of U.S. households’ mental well-being. 

Some 38% of overall respondents reported they had undergone serious financial problems within a few months of the survey. This percentage was even higher among Black, Latino and Native American households.

The survey also found that 66% of respondents with children attending kindergarten through 12th grade last year believed their students had fallen behind in their learning due to the pandemic.  

In addition, NPR’s study highlighted data from the FBI showing that hate crimes in the US are on the rise, increasing 6% in 2020 over 2019 levels. For instance, a quarter of Asian households in the U.S. reported the fear of being threatened or physically attacked in recent months. 

This NPR report reveals how the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health, now more than ever. According to the report, “Half of households report at least one person in the home has had serious problems with depression, anxiety, stress or sleep in recent months.”

Preexisting mental health challenges have also been magnified by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on an analysis by McKinsey, “A potential 50 percent increase in the prevalence of behavioral health conditions could lead to $100 billion to $140 billion of additional spend in the first 12 months post-onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Stress, anxiety and other mental health issues are not limited to the home. They seem to be on the rise in the workplace, too. According to a survey by Indeed, 67% of respondents report that “burnout has worsened during the pandemic.” 

How businesses are tackling employee well-being

Employee well-being was already becoming an essential element on the agenda for many companies before the pandemic hit. “Well-being was the top-ranked trend for importance” according to the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study, with 80% of the respondents “identifying it as important or very important to their organization’s success.” 

The Deloitte report revealed, “Against that backdrop, when COVID-19 took hold, the crisis cast new light on the importance of well-being and made us acutely aware of the consequences when well-being is put at risk. Organizations took quick action to redirect resources towards making work safe and keeping workers healthy: moving workers into remote work arrangements, implementing testing and contact tracing strategies for onsite workers, and establishing new programs for emergency medical leave, childcare and eldercare support, and physical, mental, and financial health.” 

Let’s take a look at how these eight companies made employee well-being a priority — and continue to do so:  

Gravity Payments – Credit card processing company Gravity Payments raised its base wage to $70,000 a year in 2015. Since then, the company has reported increased revenue and signs of thriving employees. “We've had a 10 times increase in the number of first-time homeowners every year and 70% of our employees were able to pay down debt,” Dan Price, founder and CEO, Gravity Payments, told Business Insider. Also, about a third of employees reported they were debt-free. 

Slack  – Slack was one of the first organizations to adopt the workplace flexibility trend. Early in the pandemic, the company announced that its workers would have the freedom to work remotely. Research has shown that “location flexibility has a significant impact on knowledge workers’ ability to manage stress (58% higher for those working fully remotely), their work-life balance (45% higher) and their overall satisfaction at work (30% higher).”

Buffer – Software application provider Buffer offers its remote staff members access to online therapists along with free subscriptions to health and wellbeing app Joyable. Employees are encouraged to use tools such as Slack to share and discuss mental health resources. Buffer also puts a lot of emphasis on preventative measures, such as the “Unsick Day,” which is a day off dedicated to preventative care. 

Accenture – At IT major Accenture, there is an understanding that, sometimes, work-related stress is related to what is going on outside the office. The company offers confidential support services to its employees to help them with issues such as substance abuse, stress, anxiety or depression. 

Google – Google has a comprehensive wellness program that features on-site health care services, including a physician, massage services, chiropractic physical therapy and access to fitness centers, among other things. Employees are also encouraged to learn professional and personal skills by taking coding degree programs, cooking classes, guitar lessons and the like. 

The multinational company also offers financial wellness resources to its workers, including access to financial planning services and financial advisers. 

Twitter – The social media powerhouse allows its employees to participate in high-level decision-making in order to bridge the gap between workers and leadership. They do so by setting up working groups with the CEO, a simplified talent development program and periodic employee satisfaction surveys. 

Citibank – In order to separate the personal and professional lives of its workforce, Citibank encourages its employees to take time off, has launched Zoom-free Fridays and actively discourages scheduling meetings and calls outside of office hours. 

Microsoft – Not only does Microsoft offer education and resources for weight management, smoking cessation and fitness training, it also funds its staff’s gym memberships or fitness equipment. Additionally, the company provides free Zumba classes, walking and running tracks, as well as basketball, volleyball and baseball courts for its employees.

During Microsoft's “Know Your Numbers” health screening events, employees and their spouses receive screenings for heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure, as well as mammograms and flu shots. 

As part of Microsoft’s CARES initiative, employees can also access free counseling and stress management, as well as referrals for elder and child care.

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