Covid-19 through a wrench into a lot of our plans ... school is cancelled, we're no longer in our offices, parks and open spaces have restrictions. We are now all working from home, and trying to find a balance between work and non-work ... with nowhere to go!
Many of us are now sharing kitchen tables with our kids who are doing remote school work, or have set up temporary desks in the corner of living rooms, and we certainly aren't getting the exercise we used to. It's safe to say, that comfort has taken a back burner and our bodies are really starting to feel it! So, we felt it was our duty to provide our employees with the tools to protect their minds and bodies.
We are proud to have offered every person on our team a $500 Wellness/ Home Office Benefit! This could be used for home office supplies, or tools that will help them to move their bodies and minds during covid-19. Our HR & Operations Manager, Bettina Urban, was the driving force behind the initiative and answered some questions about the benefit. Keep reading!
1. What was the inspiration for the wellness/home office benefit?
Each year we allocate a portion of our salary budget to improving the employee experience! Employees let us know their preference for the improvement through our annual employee engagement survey. This year, gym memberships came out on top … that is until COVID-19 hit.
Not knowing when gyms will reopen, we had to think a little differently. Many of our teams have had to turn their kitchens and dining rooms into home offices and find new ways to seek self-care and wellness. We wanted to encourage them to find ways to keep their body and mind both comfortable and challenged. So, we were thrilled to offer them a wellness/home office allowance.
2. Why do you think it's important that we support employees this way?
Now more than ever, we need to support our teams! Everyone has had to fundamentally shift not only how they work, but how they recharge and re-energize themselves outside of work. When your office and your living room are the same place, it's really hard to find balance. Working and coping with life in this new normal is challenging, and it's our responsibility to support our people by keeping them healthy, engaged and productive. It was important to us the we shared our appreciation of how hard they are working.
3. What're some of the things employees can purchase?
We debated initially on how to best roll this out. We didn’t want to just deposit money into their accounts; we wanted it to feel special and have a thoughtful impact. We wanted it to feel a bit like Christmas - you know how as a kid you used to page through the Sears Wishbook (for those of you old enough to remember that) or now scroll through all the various Amazon offerings, and then finding it under the tree. Well in this case, the tree is your front door and Santa is the delivery guy, but you get the idea!
It also then makes you think a little bit deeper about how to invest in yourself. Since each person is unique, it was important to provide choice! Whether that is through making their home office a little bit more comfortable, or through wellness - either physical or mental.
4. What was employee reaction like?
We shared the launch of this at one of our weekly Town Halls and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive! We had our first purchase the very next day and the submissions keep coming in with employees sharing their appreciation through emails and even sending photos of what they bought. Employees really appreciated the investment in their health and wellness, and getting to choose what is right for them.
5. Are you surprised by any of the submissions?
We are thrilled at how creative some of the submissions have been. Who says insurance people aren’t creative! A few of our most unique submissions so far are a hammock and a shiny purple violin … love that!