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Jenna Anderson of AccessElite: “Understand your team demographics”

Over the last year, organizations have been forced to go through substantial change, and whether they had a foundation in place for it or not, it didn’t matter. Most companies have seen the impacts of how engaging their team and setting them up for success is critical, now more than ever. 2020 taught us that […]

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Over the last year, organizations have been forced to go through substantial change, and whether they had a foundation in place for it or not, it didn’t matter. Most companies have seen the impacts of how engaging their team and setting them up for success is critical, now more than ever. 2020 taught us that employee development, training and providing our teams with the right tools and resources is key in every organization, everywhere. Like many others, we had to take our business from fully in-person to fully remote and we had a lot of growing pain in the process, including uncertainties, communication mishaps, who’s on first scenarios and much more. Collectively, we took a moment to stop, re-connect and ask ourselves what we needed to succeed personally and professionally.


As a part of our series about the things you need to successfully work remotely, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenna Anderson.

Jenna Anderson is the CEO of AccessElite, the first digital platform to deliver comprehensive physical, mental and emotional support for the employees of companies of all sizes. Additionally, Anderson is an advisor, speaker, and well-being and telehealth advocate. Throughout her career as a life-science and technology marketing executive, Anderson has been on the front lines of innovation in digital health and corporate well-being.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a few words about your career path, and how you’ve come to lead this revolutionary startup?

After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in public relations, advertising and applied communication, I got my start as an account executive and then a senior account executive in marketing, serving pharmaceuticals clients. I continued within pharmaceuticals marketing, eventually moving in-house and launching multiple mobile health platforms including ShoutMD, Carepoynt and Concierge Key Health. Then, in 2019 I joined the AccessElite team as CEO to support the company as it fully commercialized.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I don’t know that there is one particular story that stands out in my mind. If anything, it is a concept or idea that has changed with time and experience that I find very interesting. When I started my career, I believed that I had to work as hard as possible to ensure that when I decided to start a family, which I thought would negatively impact my career, I would be ahead and its impact would be lessened. This belief was instilled by managers, experiences and maybe even society that told me it was hard to have it all. Even though I was determined to prove everyone wrong, subconsciously I still believed it would be hard, maybe even impossible. If we fast-forward 17 years into my career, three children later I am delighted, surprised and encouraged by the experiences I have had. The three biggest leaps in my career all came while being pregnant. While I was pregnant with my first daughter, Addison, I received my first SVP promotion and took over the management of close to 100 people. During my second pregnancy with Everly, I started my own company, exceeding my employed salary and financial goals in the first six months. And finally, while pregnant with my third daughter, Olivia, I accepted my first CEO job. I point out these experiences as the most interesting because they went against my preconceived notions. My output and ability didn’t decline when I became a mom; on the contrary, I am now more focused, more determined and better at everything I do because I better understand the value of my time.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You have to believe in your ability and envision your success in order to achieve it.” Everything I strive to accomplish I envision myself doing. By imagining what it looks like, I start to chart the course to achieve it and it no longer feels daunting.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?

As a leader, it’s important to model desired behaviors for employees and create the space for them to care for themselves physically, emotionally, mentally and soulfully.

Can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?

Working remotely has its pros and cons and productivity is very dependent on the employee. Everyone has different learning styles and methodologies, so there is no right or wrong answer. Across the corporate landscape, we’re seeing different results depending on the company and how they lead internally. Many companies have thrived remotely and are now reconsidering their need for office space, whereas other organizations have learned in-person connection is imperative to their business.

In any combination of remote and in-person work, it’s critical to ensure that team members are set up for success. Some may need more hands-on guidance and support, whereas others are more comfortable self-managing. True management is about leadership and providing not only the tools and resources needed to thrive, but also the emotional, mental and social support necessary for true success.

Supporting employees who are working remotely takes foundational change to ensure that the organization is functioning like a well-oiled machine. These changes are achievable and easily implemented with the right partners, platforms and tools.

What would you say are the five main challenges when it comes to working remotely?

What we’re seeing right now is that many employees who are working from home are not reaching their full potential and are not getting the needed breaks to do so. Working from home has prevented them from taking a moment to focus on themselves and reset, as many of the ways they would typically do so in the office, like going to lunch with their co-workers, leaving the office at 5 p.m. because others are walking out the door at the same time and having quick over-the-wall check-ins or water cooler strategy sessions have stopped.

The emotional and psychological stress of a global pandemic has taken a toll on employees and often made it more difficult to find purpose in their work, which decreases their engagement and overall performance. This has also had an impact on productivity, which can increase stress and negative emotions if employees feel they are falling behind. Additionally, global and personal stressors coupled with extended periods of isolation have negatively impacted employees’ mental, physical and emotional well-being. Working remotely has also presented a communication challenge for teams that are used to working together in-person, as well as a lack of social connection due to the halt of water-cooler chats, coworker lunches and after-work drinks.

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?

Employees set up for success are much more likely to remain engaged in their work, making it critical for leaders to ensure their staff has the tools, training and resources needed to complete their job. Additionally, setting clear expectations for each team member empowers employees rather than overwhelms them, boosting productivity and giving their work value. Managers must check in on their staff, whether by email, text message or phone call, to see if they are doing well, if they are facing personal or professional challenges or if they need support. Since coworkers are not seeing each other at the office daily, more connection is needed to ensure no one falls through the cracks. Communicating with tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams help replicate deskside conversations over collaborative projects and engaging, unique company team-building exercises held virtually, such as a game show night or cooking class, can foster social connection between coworkers who are not working together in-person.

Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic? Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?

Over the last year, organizations have been forced to go through substantial change, and whether they had a foundation in place for it or not, it didn’t matter. Most companies have seen the impacts of how engaging their team and setting them up for success is critical, now more than ever. 2020 taught us that employee development, training and providing our teams with the right tools and resources is key in every organization, everywhere. Like many others, we had to take our business from fully in-person to fully remote and we had a lot of growing pain in the process, including uncertainties, communication mishaps, who’s on first scenarios and much more. Collectively, we took a moment to stop, re-connect and ask ourselves what we needed to succeed personally and professionally.

Specifically, teams must recognize that some upskilling and reskilling will be involved as the company identifies skill gaps within their team and plans for future growth and training solutions. For example, companies with in-person IT departments struggled when the move to online work left employees stuck at home attempting to identify computer issues by themselves. We also learned that soft skills are more important than ever, and employees must understand all forms of communication, active listening and online etiquette to ensure their communication style is appropriate in a digital setting.

What do you suggest can be done to create an empowering work culture and team culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?

Understand your team demographics. Team members are the center of any business, and while knowing your client demographics and understanding your customer base is important, knowing your team demographics is equally important. Businesses need to ensure their teams are supported based on their personal demographics. Corporate culture is not one-size-fits-all and making an impact on your team requires a deliberate understanding of people, places and cultures.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifermons/ and learn more about AccessElite at https://accesselitenow.com.

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