Curating the week in wellness March 8th –12th 2021: Fortifying your female superheroes, the profound power of appreciation, and more

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

By Robby Brumberg      @robbybrumberg      

Good morning, wellness warriors!

We hope you find great value and enriching content in this week’s must-read batch of links.

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

1. Supporting your superheroes juggling impossible situations.

International Women’s Day has come and gone, but profound gender imbalances persist.  

As USA Today notes, “superhero” moms are being forced to juggle an impossible amount of tasks during the ongoing pandemic. The burdens have been especially heavy on women of color. The piece states:

“The number of women with child care-related absences in any month more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. Women accounted for 84% of all workers who missed work in the average month last year due to child care issues – a five-year high. Orr also pointed to the pandemic’s large impact on women of color. Since March, Black and Latina moms have stopped working, either voluntarily or due to layoffs, at higher rates than white moms.”

For a slew of raw, candid perspectives, consider this AdWeek piece that shares the immense pain and struggle of 100 working women.  

The takeaway: Your female staffers are holding up more than their fair share of the sky right now, and they merit every ounce of support (and child care benefits) your company can muster.    

2. The profound power of appreciation.

Do your employees feel valued? If not, brace for turnover.

According to EBN, employees are “desperate” for appreciation from their managers:

“Forty percent of employees say they feel unrecognized for the work they’ve been doing during the pandemic, according to a report by the Achievers Workforce Institute. A quarter of employees say they plan to quit their jobs once the pandemic is over, according to a survey by Eagle Hill Consulting.”

Sometimes, just a simple “thank you” will do. However you show gratitude, be mindful of people’s time. The piece continues:

“In the beginning [of the pandemic], we thought if we get people together virtually to celebrate or have a mocktail, that would drive people and get them excited. But now that feels like it’s taking up more calendar time. Be sensitive about how much time you’re taking up on behalf of others. That’s one way to show respect to your people.”

3. Shoring up your wellness framework.

Regardless of your program’s status, it’s always wise to revisit best practice basics.

SHRM offers a nine-step framework to “establish and design” a robust wellness program. The toolkit offers communication tips, too, including:

  • An attention-generating program rollout.
  • A wellness program logo and slogans for various components of the program.
  • Visible endorsement and participation by upper management.
  • Wellness education based on sound research.
  • Persuasion of employees based on anecdotal situations.
  • Sustaining the message and the program over several years.
  • Multiple avenues of communication, such as e-mail, fliers and presentations.
  • Repetition of the message.
  • Keeping the message fresh with new information.

4. Easy ways to lower cholesterol.

The “Quarantine 15” is no joke. To help staffers ease into healthier eating habits, Eat This, Not That! offers five smart ways to reduce cholesterol, including:

  • Reduce added sugars.
  • Avoid trans fats.
  • Replace saturated fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, avocado.
  • Eat more soluble fiber.
  • Get more exercise.

5. Pushing for greater diversity—and reporting on progress.  

A savvy way to bolster your own DE&I progress is to learn from what others are up to. For some inspiration:

KFC India is touting its commitment to hiring workers with disabilities, Alliance Data is investing in employee resource groups, Cisco is promoting its Networking Academy, and Stanley Black & Decker is telling DE&I stories through its blog.

It’s crucial to provide updates on progress, too, as Comcast does here by sharing the status of its $100m commitment toward advancing racial equity.

6. Helping workers who are suffering from anxiety.

CNBC reports that “demand for anxiety management classes skyrocketed almost 4,000% in 2020.”

To combat anxiety, CNBC recommends:

  • Check in with everybody—and more than once.
  • Connect employees with the right resources.
  • Be as vulnerable as you feel comfortable with.
  • Depersonalize the feeling.
  • Advocate for yourself.

7. What should the post-COVID workplace look like?

Harvard Business School faculty members offer guidance on creating a new work world that will keep employees happy and healthy, including:

  • Prioritize face time at the office.
  • Have honest conversations with employees.
  • Weigh the risks of loneliness.
  • Consider a flexible hybrid approach.
  • Be honest about the company’s needs.
  • Keep talking about caregiving obligations.
  • Show compassion amid the stress.
  • Be sensitive to trauma and burnout.
  • Lead with empathy.
  • Prove that your building is healthy.
  • Reject virtual work at your company’s peril.

8. Do wellness programs work?

SHRM hosts a lively debate about the efficacy of corporate wellness initiatives. One author writes:

“Wellness programs are successful in organizations that:

  • Acknowledge wellness is an individual and institutional journey.
  • Measure success both individually and institutionally.
  • Understand the need for ongoing efforts that include many thoughtful, methodical and well-communicated actions. 

The piece adds: “For employees to reach their maximum engagement and productivity, enterprise leaders must lead by example and provide the necessary expertise, tools, support and encouragement so that functional leaders can provide wellness resources locally,” and, “For wellness programs to be even more successful in a future filled with uncertainty and opportunity, they must be treated as more than a series of benefits. They must be part of companies’ overall decision-making and instilled into corporate cultures. Ultimately, each organization will define its own commitment to well-being by aligning its approach and actions with its culture, strategy and market position.” 

9. Building a business case for a culture of health.

Harvard University now offers courses on building a corporate culture fueled by well-being. The prestigious school writes:

“To advance building a Culture of Health, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health developed three unique programs to train executives and corporate teams to develop and implement Culture of Health practices in their organization: