Coming out of the pandemic, empathetic companies changed their perception of the workplace and learned how to better treat their employees. Workers, seeing the devastation wrought by the virus outbreak, realized how precious and fleeting life is at times. People decided that they will no longer put up with disrespect, low pay and capricious dictates such as being forced to go into an office every day after demonstrating for two years that remote work, worked well.
Empathetic leading companies have intuitively noticed this shift in mindset. These organizations established new policies and programs to uplift and empower their team. They pay close attention to the mental health, emotional well-being and happiness of their staff.
The Chief Wellbeing Officer
Frank Giampietro was named the Chief Wellbeing Officer at EY, the large global accounting, audit, tax and consulting firm. Indicating the importance of the role, EY’s board of directors was involved with the creation of the inaugural C-suite position. It’s not just a feel-good act. There is a strong business case for the creation of the CWO.
Leaders recognize that to remain competitive and excel they need to attract, recruit and retain the best talent. To do this, they have to stand out among their rivals. In an interview with Ginnie Carlier, EY Americas vice chair of talent, and Giampietro they discussed the movement and rationale for the newly created position, and what it entails.
Carlier, the vice-chair of talent for the Americas, has led the charge on the mission to ensure that EY is an empathetic workplace. The goal is to improve and maintain the mental health and well-being of her employees.
It’s not an easy task. We live in a volatile time. Workers not only have to be concerned about their jobs but bear the effects of geopolitical events such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, runaway inflation that is dramatically increasing the prices of everything from food to gasoline, devastatingly heartbreaking school shootings and a politically toxic climate in the U.S. that has people constantly bickering with each other.
These, and other serious issues, take their toll. Carlier and Gaimpiertor are diligently working hard toward taking care of their people during these turbulent times.
Making People Happier
Happier workers who feel empowered, respected and trusted by managers will likely outperform, as they appreciate the confidence and autonomy. Their positive attitude will help create satisfied clients. This should lead to a growth in revenue and everyone benefits.
One of the ways to make both employees and their families happier is by offering a flexible workstyle. A person could decide for herself if she desires an in-office, remote, hybrid or another manner of working based on what is best for the individual and her family.
Carlier shared her thoughts on the future of work in a LinkedIn post, written in light of World Mental Health Day, “Our people are under increased pressure at home and at work as a result of the ongoing crisis—health, economic, social, racial and mental. Consequently, our role as employers has changed. Managing the physical and emotional health and well-being of our employees must be at the top of every leadership team’s priority list every day, not just World Mental Health Day. Companies can, and must, do more to support the mental health and well-being of not only their employees but their employees’ families as well.”
Installing a well-respected empathetic executive leader in the position demonstrates that the firm is passionately devoted to improving and enhancing the work-life of its more than 312,000 employees in over 700 offices and 50 countries.
How EY Is Taking Care Of Employees’ Mental Health And Emotional Wellbeing
Giampietro, EY’s Americas Chief Wellbeing Officer, said he has the best job in the company. As the CWO, Giampietro says he will focus on cultivating a climate of caring that holistically addresses the emotional, physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing of his team. Before this role, he was a leader in people advisory services, talent management and culture transformation.
The accounting, audit, tax and management consulting firm had been active in this space for a long time. Fairly recently, in early 2020, EY initiated a $2 billion investment in total rewards for their team members that involve compensation, bonus programs and wellbeing benefits.
Here are some highlights of their new programs:
The accounting giant is increasing its no-cost counseling and mental health coaching sessions from five to twenty-five per year. This will include both the worker and her household family members. Their thought process is that what happens at work is brought to the home. If you are treated well and taken care of in the office when you return home you’re in a good mood which will improve the attitude of the entire family. When a family member is dealing with mental health issues that aren’t addressed, it will likely impact the mindset and performance of the worker. Focusing on the family and worker proactively helps improve the emotional well-being of everyone.
The company added to its annual Well-being Fund from $500 to $1,000 per person. The funds will help cover a wide array of expenses such as vacations, travel, gaming consoles, fitness classes, ergonomic home office equipment, meal delivery services and outdoor fitness equipment. They doubled benefits for the child and adult care support programs, expanded backup care from 12 days to 24 days and offered tutoring resources.
The accounting, tax and audit firm implemented the EY Way of Working. The program provides people flexibility in where and how people want to work. EY WOW encourages teams to collaborate on formulating what combinations of remote and in-person interactions and team-building exercises work best.
To create more togetherness and bonding, the firm started the EY WOW Transition Fund. It promotes leaders actively engaging with their teams and provides reimbursement for any expenses related to hybrid team building activities such as commuting, dependent and pet care.
The Wellbeing Index
EY is testing out a Wellbeing Index. By analyzing the data emanating from the new programs and policies, the company can gain insights into what is working, and determine if they are achieving their goals of improving the well-being of the employees. The results will help indicate whether changes need to be made or interventions are warranted to help folks in different ways.
As we are starting to see hiring freezes, downsizings, a slowing economy and a falling stock market, the fears from the pandemic come back to mind. By instituting a progressive well-being program, it will help people cope and thrive despite the uncertainty and turbulence.
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