Believe it or not, despite being the founder and CEO of a workforce wellbeing solution, I didn’t come out of the gates prioritizing wellbeing. That came later, after years of pushing through exhaustion to achieve “supermom workaholic” status, sacrificing family time and self-care along the way. It wasn’t until I took a step back into a rejuvenating mid-career sabbatical that I learned one of the most powerful life lessons of all: it’s only when I’m feeling physically and emotionally balanced — as the direct result of prioritizing my wellbeing — that I can be there for my family and show up at work as my best self. And the same goes for my employees.
Wellbeing for one and for all
When I founded Grokker.com in 2012 to make the personal pursuit of wellbeing easy, enjoyable, and work/life-affirming, I had a very clear intention that my team was going to live and breathe our mission. This doesn’t happen by accident, though. I knew that I needed to lead by example and demonstrate, with authenticity and candor, that it’s okay — and actually a good thing! — to take care of myself and seek balance in the competing areas of my life, including being the CEO of a fast-growing startup.
My approach was put to the test and into action when my mother was diagnosed with cancer and I stepped in as primary caregiver during her treatment and recovery. I made the important and deliberate decision to be open and honest with my entire team about why I might need to take a personal phone call in the middle of a meeting or sneak in a stress-reducing mid–day yoga session right there in the office. Continuing to give myself permission to prioritize my wellbeing, out in the open, gives my employees the permission they need to practice self-care, their own way.
With respect to workforce culture and benefits, putting employees’ changing needs first is my company’s North Star. As my employees started having babies, for example, we introduced parent-friendly policies including a completely flexible schedule for the first month upon return to ease back in and adjust. When we began welcoming remote teammates from across the world, they were made to feel at one with the home office via video conferencing, work-from-home Wednesdays, daily colleague connection activities, and even regular care packages. When the pandemic struck, we had many of the “right” pieces in place to maintain personal connection as well as day-to-day functioning, and even take our commitment to wellbeing to the next level.
Live your core values and deliver on your mission
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged every company — and we turned on a dime to ensure that our now-fully remote workforce had the support they needed to feel safe, healthy, and connected with one another. This enabled us to undertake the organizational heavy-lift of dropping our paywall to make our solution available to everyone who needed it during the early months of the outbreak. This required everyone on the team to provide their very best work and devise new processes they could execute quickly and effectively with the goal of delivering timely, actionable wellbeing content to our clients and members.
I am doubtful that we would have success stories like this if my employees weren’t prioritizing their own wellbeing. It’s part of who we are, as a team. To that end, we feel closer today, having been remote for almost a year now. While our newest team members haven’t met anyone “in person,” together, we’re thriving.
The proof that “wellbeing works” as a cultural focus is in the outcomes. We can do well by doing good. When you consider that treating yourself — and your workforce — well is integral to building the trust, resilience, and wherewithal required to succeed, the effort you put into cultivating a connected wellbeing-focused approach will pay off in the long run.
Go forth and actually prosper!
If employees aren’t given what they need to feel their best and balance their lives, even in the best of times, what support will they have to help them through when the going gets tough, as it inevitably does? Knowing they’re cared for, supported, and encouraged to take care of themselves, is precisely what they need now and in future, so they can take care of your customers in turn.
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