Curating the week in wellness June 28–July 2, 2021: Vaccines promise long-term immunity, the myth of office collaboration, and more

The week’s essential content and fresh industry pickings for those dedicated to employee well-being.

By Robby Brumberg      @robbybrumberg      
Curating the week in wellness, 6-29-21

Greetings to you, wellness pros!

We hope you enjoy this week’s collection of thought-provoking articles, savvy tips and takeaways.

As always, please get in touch with any ideas, suggestions or feedback on how we can serve you better. We are grateful for all the excellent work you do.

1. Vaccines offer ‘years’ of protection against COVID-19.

A new study shows the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines could shield against COVID-19 for longer than expected.

As The New York Times reports, “The study consisted of 41 people who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and the researchers extracted samples from lymph nodes of 14 participants. They found that 15 weeks after the first dose, the number of memory cells that recognized the coronavirus had not declined.”

These findings lead scientists to believe that vaccines could offer protection against COVID-19 for years, but that “boosters” may be required for older people and those with compromised immune systems.

Regardless, the takeaway for wellness pros remains: Vaccines are a safe and effective way defeat the pandemic. To increase uptake among employees, build confidence in the vaccines through transparent communication, and consider offering incentives to get the jab.

You might not be able to offer a Hong Kong condo, but you can never go wrong with free doughnuts.

2. The in-office collaboration myth.

Many leaders around the world are eager to get everyone back into the office ASAP. There are multitudes of motivations fueling this desire, but one of the top arguments is typically some variation of, “We need the office to produce spontaneous collaboration and innovation!”

Are those serendipitous sparks worth the trouble of everybody schlepping into a brick-and-mortar every day?  

The New York Times writes that there is “no evidence” to support the notion that “chance meetings at the office boost innovation.”

Tim Cook, Jaime Dimon and other bigwigs lament the potential loss of culture and productivity in a remote work setting, but being in an office “may even hurt innovation, experts say, because the demand for doing office work at a prescribed time and place is a big reason the American workplace has been inhospitable for many people.”

Workplace researchers concede that sheer proximity may increase encounters and conversations. But how many of those actually boost innovation, creativity or meaningful collaboration?

Scientists interviewed for the Times piece “suggested reimagining the office entirely—as somewhere people go to every so often, to meet or socialize, while daily work is done remotely.”

Regardless of how your company proceeds, it’s crucial to prioritize workers’ healthy and humanity.    

3. Unleashing your secret DE&I weapon.

HR Dive writes about the beauty and power of workplace mentoring, which can help level the corporate playing field and fuel professional—all while forging meaningful connections among employees. The key, however, is to invest in such programs and to incentivize participation.

The piece notes that companies are struggling to retain and engage diverse employees—especially in a virtual work environment—but that “reverse mentoring” and peer-coaching programs such as Imperative can help.

If you fail to prioritize inclusive workplace mentoring, you risk alienating or losing top talent.

4. Lessons on reporting CSR, ESG progress.

If you’re struggling to report on your company’s sustainability initiatives or philanthropic ventures, have a look at these heavy hitters’ recent reports:

5. New research on gender-related messaging and expectations.

Porter Novelli just published a report that analyzes how companies are communicating about gender-specific topics—and how consumers increasingly expect more nuanced language about these sorts of issues.

The study finds:

  • Sixty percent of Americans say companies should be more inclusive in their approach to gender identity in their marketing and advertising.
  • Fifty-seven percentare less likely to engage with a company that misrepresents or stereotypes gender identity in advertising, marketing, and communications.
  • Fifty-five percentbelieve gender stereotypes exist partially because of the way companies have represented gender identity in marketing and advertising.
  • Fifty-five percentwish companies offered more products and services that were not marketed to only one gender.

The study reveals a generational split, noting that:

  • Gen Zers (63%) are more likely to believe companies have been active in perpetuating the gender stereotypes that exist in society today (vs. 55% average American).
  • Six-in-10 Gen Zers are more likely to purchase a product that is not marketed toward one gender (vs. 47% Average American).

Certainly something to keep in mind when crafting internal and external messaging.

6. Supporting and celebrating LGBTQ employees all year long.

As Pride Month winds down, are your efforts to engage LGBTQ slowing down, too?

Take a page from Duke Energy, which “celebrates Pride Month all year” by providing benefits to same-sex couples and actively supporting its WeR1 employee resource group.

You might also learn from HP’s LGBTQ workplace inclusion, including its “Business Impact Networks.”  

Hootsuite’s mental health offerings are worth a look, too.

7. How to help working parents, post-pandemic.

Is your company doing enough to support the harried moms, dads and caregivers in your midst?

HR Dive writes that companies mustn’t forget the lessons learned from COVID-19, not least of which is that working parents need a lot of help, grace, empathy and understanding.

Moving forward, the piece suggests:

  • Keep talking to parents and gathering new data points on what they need.
  • Revisiting flexible work options.
  • Normalizing the human aspects of working.
  • Applying a DE&I lens to your benefits and policies.

8. Polishing up those employee policies.

HR Executive offers seven items in your employee handbook that might need freshening up post-pandemic, including:

  • Workplace conduct
  • Media contact protocols
  • Confidentiality
  • Conflict of interest
  • Use of intellectual property
  • Leaving work

You might also want to clarify your stance on the boundaries of workplace dialogue—and what content is out of bounds on social media.

9. Science shows how to ease back into social settings.

If you’re a bit nervous about the prospect of returning back to the office—or perhaps just getting back out into public—The Conversation offers science-backed tips to get back into the social swing of things.