October is National Work & Family Month, which provides an opportunity to step back and take stock of how your organization is addressing the needs of employees in both their work and personal lives. WorldatWork recommends “conducting a work-life needs assessment” as on of the top five ways organizations can participate in the National Work & Family Month. They even offer a complementary download of a Work/Life Self Audit created by the Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP) — an excellent resource for getting started in understanding what your organization currently offers to employees (which is reason for high fives) and may begin to highlight areas for attention.
Moving from Work/Life to Employee Well-Being — Practicing Our Philosophy
Horizons Workforce Consulting, along with Dan Henry, Bright Horizons’ CHRO, have taken our thinking to the next level – beyond work/life needs assessments to employee well-being assessments. If you’ve read posts by Dan, Lucy English, or me, it is probably clear that we share an excitement and conviction around the power of supporting employee well-being. Following is a case study to illustrate our belief in the importance of moving from work/life to employee well-being.
In 2011, Horizons Workforce Consulting had the opportunity to work with an organization near and dear to our hearts – Bright Horizons! Based on interviews with leadership as well as individuals from various departments across the country, a customized well-being survey instrument was created. Instead of asking how Bright Horizons was doing as an organization, as is the case with typical employee opinions surveys, we asked how each employee was doing.
It was a personal set of questions. Therefore, it was critical that respondents know that the survey was completely anonymous.
Do Employees Really Want Employers to “Go There?”
We asked our employees questions relating to their confidence in developing a personal budget and then sticking to it, the importance of their social relationships and spiritual lives, and whether or not they feel inspired or creative at work. Although the resulting quantitative data was enlightening, the survey comments were full of emotion.
Respondents expressed gratitude, and a little surprise, that Bright Horizons would ask such personal questions. Many said that this survey told them that their employer truly cared about them as people. The comments were also filled with stories of how their work was impacted by their roles and responsibilities outside of work — the world employers have typically viewed as “off limits.”
Through the well-being assessment, we learned that many of the supports Bright Horizons offered were making a difference in employees’ lives. We also learned that there were a few areas where adjustments needed to be made for the support to have the desired impact.
Digging Deep Enough to Find the Real Workforce Challenges
Like most organizations, Bright Horizons encouraged employees, through a variety of communications, to participate in our 401K program. We were discouraged by the response and would then try another communication campaign. Why weren’t more employees participating, especially since Bright Horizons will match contributions?
We learned from the well-being assessment that employees were really struggling and lacking confidence in their personal finances. Respondents reported being stressed trying to figure out their monthly budget and the more day-to-day decisions around their finances. We had a “light bulb moment”….How could we expect employees to think about saving for retirement when they were struggling with today?! In response, Bright Horizons has developed supports around personal finances such as budget development, tracking monthly spending, etc. We are still promoting our 401K but in a way that connects with the here and now.
We are viewing the well-being assessment and approach to supporting employees in a longitudinal manner. Our 2nd Annual Well-Being Survey is currently open and available to Bright Horizons employees. Our team pulled a few initial findings and was very excited to see differences, when comparing the 2012 to 2011 data. Bright Horizons’ organizational approach of caring and supporting employees’ well-being is making a difference — we are moving the needle on employee well-being!
Ready to Dive In? We’re Replicating the Approach
As other organizations have learned about our approach and methodology, Horizons Workforce Consulting has been given the privilege of replicating the Well-Being Assessment for other companies. The assessment survey is customized and unique to each employer given that organizational culture and type of work impacts the types of questions asked. It is an exciting opportunity for employers to really learn what constitutes well-being for its workforce, which will then result in data-driven decisions around how best to support that well-being.
Why should employers care about their employees’ well-being? Data indicates that employees who have positive well-being are more engaged, energized and creative. What organization wouldn’t want a highly engaged, energetic and creative workforce?