One of the most difficult of last year’s many challenges was the near-universal transition to a remote workforce, sometimes implemented in just days—or a week or two—even for large, global organizations.
And then following the transition, organizations had to figure out on the fly how to sustain morale, keep up employee engagement, find new ways to support culture, and ensure participation in well-being initiatives. Virtual happy hours were rolled out. Remote steps competitions and yoga sessions replaced the in-person versions. But more was needed. Organizations had to support workers juggling work and life responsibilities with kids home from school. They had to address burnout and isolation.
These issues and more will be addressed at the upcoming Workplace Wellness Conference on April 21st. We caught up with Pilar Morales, one of the speakers on the session “Work From Home Strategies For 2021 and Beyond.” In this Q&A, Morales offers a preview of her session.
Workplace Wellness Insider: What challenges exist in long-term work-from-home strategies?
Pilar Morales: S&P Global has had all employees working from home since March 10th, 2020, when the impact of COVID-19 first affected us. We immediately knew we wanted to make sure our people-first philosophy supported our team physically, emotionally, financially, and for work-life balance.
We know that mental health is essential to our overall well-being, and enables us to enjoy our lives, work and communities. Our priority is ensuring that our people and families across the globe feel supported, connected, recognized and rewarded.
WW: How far along are you in your WFH policies and benefits?
Morales: Our goal was to provide a comprehensive and consistent global wellness strategy across 32 countries. S&P Global partnered with LifeWorks to implement an innovative Well-being program that was provided at no cost to the participant. Our people receive expert guidance and practical work-life services, referrals to well-being coaches and other specialists, and connections to community resources.
Traditional employee-assistance programs have a utilization rate of less than 5%. Our objective was to have a much higher utilization rate by proactively reaching all global team members with personalized assistance. Our program offers a huge variety of support including COVID-19 support, tax consultations, financial counseling, child and elder care matching, anxiety and depression counselling, substance abuse, lifestyle and health changes, work and stress management, and much more.
WW: What techniques do you use to support and enhance connectedness and corporate culture?
Morales: Tackling the task of implementing a true global program to over 22,000 people in less than two months was quite an undertaking. There were logistical considerations, because all employees in the U.S. and several other countries were now working virtually. To execute this project, each region utilized our benefits lead. The lead spent a significant amount of time focusing on internal communications. Individualized communications for each country was key in seamlessly integrating LifeWorks into our company culture to get our people engaged from the onset.
The project kicked off on Sept 4th, 2020, and was successfully rolled out to all countries the week of October 19th. From a technical perspective, completing this implementation in seven weeks took significant effort and teamwork. The team worked through a secure data exchange process to migrate global employee data, so all people had the correct access. In addition, there was Single Sign-On configuration, branding considerations, URL creation, and a full round of user testing to roll-out this project on time.
WW: How are you measuring progress?
Morales: To celebrate the commencement of the program, S&P Global kicked off the partnership with LifeWorks with a week of events focused on well-being. Events included: Boosting your Positive Outlook, Mindfulness, Stress Relaxation Techniques, Welcoming Change into Your Life, and Overcoming Burnout. In order to measuring the progress and success of the implementation, one of our KPIs was to track attendance during the week-long event. These sessions were well received and highly attended. Another KPI was 50% of team members registering with LifeWorks within the first six months. We are happy to report that we are on target for achieving this goal.