Curating the week in wellness June 7–11, 2021: Supporting LGBTQ workers, what benefits employees want, and more

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

By Robby Brumberg      @robbybrumberg      
Supporting LGBTQ workers

Greeting to you, wellness, HR and comms 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, so please keep it up!

1. Engaging LGBTQ workers during Pride Month—and beyond.

Is your workplace truly welcoming toward LGBTQ employees?

New data from Glassdoor reveals that LGBTQ employees are less satisfied than their straight colleagues, with many reporting they still don’t feel free to be their authentic selves on the job.

How can you take meaningful steps toward a more inclusive workplace? For one, it takes more than empty virtue signaling, “rainbow capitalism” or swapping out your company’s avatar for one month per year.

Glassdoor writes:

“While many companies will turn their logos and social profiles to rainbows for Pride Month, creating a more equitable company is more than just symbolic or superficial moves. It’s about action. Company leaders should take time to solicit feedback from their LGBTQ+ employees to better understand what’s working well and what needs improvement to further support their workers.”

Actively soliciting employee feedback is crucial here, as bias and discrimination are not always overt. According to LinkedIn, “31% of LGBTQ workers say they have faced blatant discrimination and microagressions in the workplace, with 1 in 4 leaving a job all together because they did not feel accepted.”

As you craft and augment DE&I policies, make sure you’re prioritizing how well your company recruits, retains and supports LGBTQ employees.

Here are some brands that are going above and beyond in this regard.

2. Sussing out the specifics of the EEOC’s new vaccine guidance.

HR Dive provides a bit of clarity regarding three big questions looming over corporate vaccine drives and incentives, including:

·         What does a reasonable accommodation for a vaccine policy look like?

·         How does CDC mask guidance square with medical information rules?

·         What types of incentives might employers consider?

The gist is that the law has swung toward the side of employers in terms of vaccine incentives and mandates—so long as you provide reasonable accommodations. However, employees are increasingly suing employers over vaccine mandates, including a large group of workers at a Texas hospital. So, there certainly is risk to consider.

However you decide to proceed, make sure your policies are crystal-clear to ensure everyone’s on the same page in terms of expectations and requirements.

3. What benefits workers want most moving forward.

Employee Benefits News summarizes a Randstad study, explaining that the pandemic has dramatically altered employees’ workplace expectations. And that’s not likely to change, even as the threat of COVID-19 abates.

EBN writes:

“Seventy-seven percent of employees say they are ready to return to work on a temporary basis, but they are looking for certain benefits and concessions from their employers regarding flexible schedules, childcare support and their overall well-being,” adding:

“Fifty-four percent of employees say they prefer a flexible work arrangement that allows them to work both on-site and remotely beyond the pandemic. Those employees are willing to make a career move to continue working from home. Twenty-three percent of employees changed jobs for the opportunity to work remotely.”

According to EBN, workers are no longer willing to accept benefits that don’t match their “new normal.” To wit, Randstad found that almost one-in-five workers changed jobs during the pandemic, and that “Forty-two percent cited compensation as the deciding factor, and 30% of employees switched jobs for better benefits.”

So, if your company is planning to snap back to pre-COVID norms, you can expect to see an exodus of your top talent fleeing for the nearest exit.

In an environment where employees are gaining leverage, companies should consider themselves on notice. Smartphones and gifts are nice, but flexibility reigns supreme.

4. Maybe don’t harass employees about their OnlyFans accounts?

T-Mobile is the latest company to come under fire for an invasive, wildly inappropriate HR incident sparked by an employee’s alleged activities outside work.

The Verge writes:

“When Stevens submitted a complaint to HR, a man on the team called her and began asking questions about her personal life, including ‘whether she had a ‘sugar daddy’ and whether she had an OnlyFans account.’ Stevens was shocked. ‘I immediately started crying,’ she tells The Verge. ‘I told him I did not feel comfortable and he still continued to ask the questions.’”

These sorts of incidents are on the rise. The Verge reports:

“This isn’t the first time that a woman has been shamed or retaliated against for having an OnlyFans account. In April 2020, BuzzFeed News reported that a mechanic in Indiana was fired from her job after her bosses found out she was making amateur porn on OnlyFans outside of work. In December 2020, the New York Post tried to ‘out’ an EMT who was making ends meet through OnlyFans (whatever the New York Post was trying to do here backfired — the publication was widely criticized for ‘doxxing’ someone simply for trying to earn a living’ according to Rolling Stone). The incidents point to how far some companies will try to go to control the lives of their workers, while also refusing to pay people enough to allow them to maintain a single stream of income.”

If your company doesn’t already have a policy in place regarding how to proceed if an employee moonlights or dabbles in, er, “content intended for mature audiences,” now would be a great time to do so. Ideally, that won’t involve shaming them or subjecting them to harassment from HR.

5. Dealing with the fallout of historical racial reckoning.

Chances are, your company, institution or even industry has an ugly history marred by systemic racism.

What should you do to rectify past wrongs?

The Washington Post has a fascinating piece about the racial reckoning rocking the world of ornithology. WaPo explains:

“As with the wider field of conservation, racism and colonialism are in ornithology’s DNA, indelibly linked to its origin story. The challenge of how to move forward is roiling White ornithologists as they debate whether to change as many as 150 eponyms, names of birds that honor people with connections to slavery and supremacy.”

That problematic history includes John James Audubon, whose name has been synonymous with birding for more than a century. He was also happened to be a slave owner who spouted repugnant racist views.

Should the Audubon Society change its name? Should every bird that bears the name of a disgraced person be rebranded as something less offensive?

These are certainly issues worth considering. However, such drastic actions can be a slippery slope. Regardless, historical transgressions are something companies should expect to grapple with at some point in the future. Past sins have a knack for being exposed. The trick is how to address those bad deeds, make meaningful amends, and take action to do better.

6. The case for more video in the hybrid workplace.

Employee Benefits News offers evidence why HR and wellness pros must become savvier with video moving forward. Compelling videos can help you do a better job of:

  • Attracting talent
  • Teaching employees
  • Boosting productivity
  • Easing departures

If you want to maintain some semblance of connectivity, collaboration and culture, make sure video is a key part of your messaging mix.

7. Why wellness programs fall short.

The Conversation offers a must-read on why corporate well-being programs so often fall flat. The piece says:

“COVID-19 has raised ‘wellness’ up the agendas of corporations like never before – and not always in a good way. Many companies have introduced exercise classes, fruit and other sticking-plaster solutions rather than measures which assess risk, focus on prevention and prioritize ‘decent work’ as a driver of both well-being and productivity.”

To create more substantive wellness initiatives, the author suggests:

  • Health and productivity can and must coexist.
  • Lifestyle evangelism is no substitute for decent work.
  • Context is everything.
  • Employers: beware of ‘fool’s gold’ and ‘miracle cures.’

8. Results of a three-year workplace wellness program.

The long-term study found that, “At the end of three years, employees at the treatment worksites had better self-reported health behaviors, including a higher rate of actively managing their weight.”

However: “No significant differences were found in self-reported health; clinical markers of health; health care spending or use; or absenteeism, tenure, or job performance. Improvements in health behaviors after three years were similar to those at eighteen months, but the longer follow-up did not yield detectable improvements in clinical, economic, or employment outcomes.” 

9. Learning from Comcast’s DE&I reporting.

Comcast/NBC Universal have published a DE&I progress report, which offers helpful guidance on formatting, metrics and storytelling.

10. Redefining the future of workplace wellness.

This piece offers insights into how major Minneapolis companies are viewing well-being initiatives after the traumatic events of 2020.