By Melissa Gilkerson, VP, brand and communications, StayWell
StayWell’s employee well-being program, called Bean—a light-hearted nod to “well-being” and “human being”—gives us a chance to have fun with the work we do each day on behalf of the health systems, insurers, employers, and associations that we serve. It’s also an opportunity to sustain our commitment to using evidence-based strategies and determine how to establish the kind of culture that is effective for employees.
Here are four findings from Bean that we want to share with other employers.
- Be committed and consistent
In what I view as a nationally-leading move, about two years ago our CEO Nicole Latimer launched “Bean:30”—a 30-minute window every day when StayWell employees pause to pursue their own health and well-being. Bean:30 occurs at the same time across the country and is held on employee calendars as blocked time to ensure employees can truly take a break without having emails pile up or having to attend internal meetings.
The executive leadership team, along with managers and Bean Champions, work together to promote daily use of Bean time. Studies have shown that these types of breaks can dramatically improve decision-making and creativity, while prolonged attention on a single task can hinder performance. We’re trying to discourage a “working through Bean culture” as the time allows us to recharge and refocus on doing the best work for our clients.
- Start with building culture
Four of every five StayWell employees work remotely—and nontraditional working environments require special strategies to develop a great culture. For other employers it may mean engaging employees in manufacturing plants or clinicians in a hospital, all of which present a unique set of challenges.
For StayWell, Bean:30 has served as a great unifier and a way to create cohesiveness across the organization regardless of location. We ground many company activities in the Bean brand to signify our commitment to evolving our culture and to group culture-building activities for better internal employee awareness.
- Invite employee feedback—and stay on the move in response
StayWell’s history of applied research has served as a guide as we measure whether the program is effective. While we offer limited, voluntary programming during Bean:30—from casual “water cooler” meetings to video conferences on well-being topics—the greatest success with this component of the program has been a quarterly survey that gauges how well we are living up to core values. The survey asks questions with the goal of understanding each employee’s engagement in the business, their challenges, and their thoughts on culture.
Because we have had solid participation, we’ve established a baseline and can react quickly to the results. For example, our most recent survey showed that connectedness and transparency were two opportunities for improvement. This past quarter we developed employee-led monthly tactics in each area to chip away at the difference between where we were and where we wanted to be in terms of the numbers. A quick pulse-check with our team members indicated a majority responded favorably to increased transparency, while we still have room to go on fostering connectedness.
- Be open to what the data tells you
Additional survey results on Bean:30 show:
- 84% of employees either love or like their Bean:30 time
- Those who participate more in Bean:30 were more likely to report improved happiness, well-being, stress levels, job satisfaction, and sense of community
- Of those participating on average one day per week, just 9% reported improved happiness, compared to between 78-85% participating four to five days per week
While these are positive results, we did find a few surprises—such as the correlation between employees having a strong understanding of our strategic direction (including our commitment to Bean) being much more likely to recommend StayWell as a great place to work. We believed we had already communicated strategy effectively, but it was clear that we needed to find additional ways to communicate to ensure employees understood the content, reiterating information on several channels over time.
After putting in place activities like companywide training with built-in quizzes, small-group discussions with our CEO, and reinforcing messaging during all-hands meetings, we could see a huge swing in the right direction. It’s not something we would have been likely to catch without the clarity of the data.
See Bean in action
StayWell’s well-being program is always in a state of motion. Where I think we’re thriving is in listening to employees, providing frequent and consistent opportunities for them to let us know how things are going, and then adjusting quickly in response.