Overcome Stubborns

Holistic Wellness for Women: Supporting Health in Every Life Phase

When Shauna Murphy Cour, the vice president of employer sales at Ovia Health, had her three kids, she was working for a tech company. From the outside, it looked like she had all the right benefits to support her journey through pregnancy and early motherhood.“I had 20 weeks paid leave, but the culture, at the time, had me sneak out of the back door [for family obligations and for doctors’ visits], I’d be pumping in the storage closet,” she told journalist Kelly Bourdet during a From Day One webinar on fertility and parental benefits titled “Why Fertility and Maternity Care Management Are a Perfect Pairing for Workers and Their Employers.”And while stigma for conditions such as mental health and fertility issues has decreased, the truth is that many still consider women’s health a niche benefit, even though it’s an extremely vast industry with different goals and facets. In the case of fertility, there is an overall lack of awareness on the matter, which is a missed opportunity in terms of proactive family planning and early detection.A platform like Ovia, a maternity and family-planning benefits solution for employers and health plans, allows patients to explore all paths to parenthood, including ART, adoption, and the collaboration with a gestational carrier. That’s where Cour eventually landed, and she currently leads Ovia’s sales team. “I was fed up with the lack of focus on women’s health.”A Proactive Approach, Before the Family-planning StageOvia’s platform includes preventive care, such as preservation, but it can also include the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. “In terms of treatment, most of us think of IVF, but there’s also medical treatments: drugs, IUI, it can also include donor sperm for male infertility, which involves 30% of infertility cases,” says Dr. Leslie Saltzman, Ovia’s chief medical officer.Other benefits also include gestational carrier services. That’s the competitive advantage of a platform like Ovia, an exclusive focus on fertility care as opposed to preventive care and assistance through early parenthood lacks understanding of what can happen downstream. “The thing about fertility service is that there’s all types of data: all types of medically assisted reproduction, including taking medicines, make pregnancies higher risk,” says Saltzman.It’s not an assessment based on gestational age, but it’s the result of the comparison of an unassisted vs an assisted pregnancy among women of the same age. Other higher-risk factors include: multiple gestation, preterm birth, preeclampsia, abruption, and C-section delivery. “We also see other types of risk factors: Black women using ART have higher rates of infant mortality,” continues Dr. Saltzman.The leaders from Ovia Health were interviewed by journalist Kelly Bourdet (photo by From Day One)Still, it all starts with preventive care and a proactive approach to reproductive health. “We’d prefer that a person with PCOS and endometriosis be diagnosed earlier, so they can learn how to best maximize their chances,” she explains. “And because these pregnancies are higher-risk, it’s good to have the resources.” Such an approach will, ideally, avoid using unnecessary technology, and prevent high-cost outcomes because people are supported through their pregnancy.Support in All Stages of Life“What happens, often, is that when you try to get pregnant, you try to jump into the deep end,” says Cour. “By that point, you should have been monitoring for many years, and we have women starting at age 18.” On the other end of the spectrum, last year Ovia added perimenopause focused care, which has historically been massively underserved, both in terms of research and science. “Like many things, we’re told to muscle through it,” says Cour. “That’s where we have people come in. We understand where they’re at, what they’re looking for. We’re that source that’s there.”This also means supporting patients in their day-to-day management of their fertility and family-planning journey. “It can feel dark and isolating, but after a few appointments, appointments happen very frequently,” says Betsy Akins, Ovia’s VP of client success. “It’s all based on your ultrasound schedule, and when you’re attending with someone else, it’s also difficult for their schedule.” This means it’s also important to be empowered to learn what benefits are readily available: sometimes you’re unaware that you have, say, 10 free sessions of therapy, or mental-health screenings. And, ideally, when people are aware of their suit of benefit, they can help their coworkers, by pointing out something that they were unaware of.Benefits as a Catalyst for Gender Equity in the WorkplaceMaking fertility benefits accessible is essential. Especially in an era where women’s representation in the workforce is lower than in the 1980s. “Now it’s about DEI and retaining talent: how do you make it real, so that’s tangible and quantifiable?” Cour asks rhetorically. That’s when fertility and family-planning benefits become huge: women start trying later, and might want to freeze their eggs to keep options open. “Having alternative pathways has become such an important benefit,” she says.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Ovia Health, for sponsoring this webinar.Angelica Frey is a writer and a translator based in Boston and Milan.

BY Angelica Frey | June 09, 2023
Overcome Stubborns
By Krista Sherer | June 09, 2023

Compassion and Transparency in Performance Management

“We need to know what we do matters,” Janet Ahn, president of Americas and chief behavioral science officer of MindGym said with regard to employee needs and the evaluation of their work. “How does my personal purpose grow and align with the wider organization's purpose?” Ahn introduced the panel session titled “Performance Management in an Era of Rising Worker Expectations” at From Day One’s Silicon Valley conference. Steve Koepp, co-founder and chief content officer at From Day One moderated the panel of four expert leaders to discuss the changing landscape of reviews, compensation, feedback, and employee wellness.Swati Sarupria, the senior director of talent and organization effectiveness at Splunk, said that many companies are creating clearer guidelines with more structure and transparency around performance management, and embracing employee feedback. “When I hear about the feedback from the employees, it's welcoming because it has always been this black box,”  Sarupria said. “I think the structural changes and the transparency are also welcome.”Laura Lomelí, Ph.D. the area vice president of people insights at BetterUp said she is pleased with what she and her colleagues see in their partners. “Our partners are spending a lot of energy on up-leveling their managers and their skill sets to provide effective and kind feedback,” she said. “This investment reinforces a culture of feedback, which ultimately makes these performance conversations a lot easier.”Leah Pimentel the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and culture with the University of California (UCSF) said that a performance review should not be the first time an employee gets feedback.“You should be getting feedback at every one-to-one with your manager, and they should be very clear about your goals, where you want to go, and how you get there?” she said. Pimentel said the review is a partnership and that managers should look at how to help their employees grow, achieve in their job, and assess what training and resources they need to excel. “I believe the pandemic renewed these conversations with a breath of fresh air,” Pimentel said. “It allowed us to pivot in a new direction, make sure that our managers have enough training, and look at how we were equipping our managers to be better performers and better givers.”Having consistent feedback is vital, Pimentel said, and having a six-month check-in on an employee's career path is also helpful, so no one is blindsided. “Having employees feeling empowered with the ability to paint their own career is something that can inspire people,”  she said. “Asking them, ‘what do you want to do? How do you get there? How can we work together to achieve it?’”The full panel of speakers during From Day One's Silicon Valley conference (photos by David Coe for From Day One)Rekha Gurnani Chowdhury, senior director of global compensation and people analytics at Box said that the future of performance management will be the transparency between pay and performance. “Ultimately what employees want is a feeling of control,” Chowdhury said. “They want to know that they have a way to influence their outcomes, whether it is pay related, or other organizational outcomes.”The way to do this is to make the outcome very clear, Chowdhury said, and that there is an assumption we don't know how compensation is determined or that these decisions are being made somewhere in secret. “If anything, we're actually getting more clear with how we think about performance, how we make the connection between your position and range and how your performance for the year is,” she said. “We are enabling managers to have these conversations and to make that link.”Creating a Safe Space in Your WorkplaceAs for the question of employees asking for empathy in the workplace balanced with the need for managing employee evaluations, Lomelí with BetterUp was happy to lean into the challenge. “I love this question. So recently, the U.S. Surgeon General put forward workplace well-being as a top priority. And one of the components of workplace well-being is mattering at work,” she said. “And, I think that compassion and empathy are really critical for people to feel that they matter at work.” Lomelí said it’s important when we think about performance management systems and the process when assessing how we deliver feedback. “If you think about the system that you might be developing, it’s important to ask, ‘how do I actually deliver the feedback within that system?’” she said. “It’s about appreciative feedback, and appreciative feedback doesn't mean you only say good things. It's actually clear, very prompt, and kind.”Pimentel said that oftentimes people are worried about how they will be perceived or are fearful of speaking up because of possible retaliation. She said she and her counterpart worked on creating psychological safety with confidential safe spaces for staff, faculty, and residents of the University of California (UCSF) to address the issue.“You can come and say what you wish, come up with ideas and we can implement them,” she said. “We take all of that data and we share it with the chair of the department, and we work to use my budget to implement solutions.” With a rising competitive job market, Pimentel added that giving new hires welcome kits to understand their brand and feel appreciated is helpful. “You spend more time at work than you do at home,” she said. “And with this competitive market, you want people to realize why they are working with you, and that you care about them and value them.”DEI Efforts in a Changing Work SettingAs for the hot button regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, Sarupria said that as companies are acquiring people to come back into the office more, there will be an impact of diverse representation and that in the context of performance management, the missing element in traditional practices has been the appropriate conversation about equity and talent, and not ratings. “The conversation between managers and their peers and the conversation between managers and their senior leaders needs to provide equal access and visibility to talent,” Sarupria said. “And typically under ratings, the quality gets masked because you're just talking about numbers and who needs to go where.”Sarupria said at Splunk they are working through a structured guide overlaid with data to highlight certain pools for what these review conversations look like. “I think the more we can overlay data and the more we can provide structure, there is going to be equity naturally in the process itself,” she said.Lomelí added that focusing on teaching managers how to lead inclusively and being cognizant of cultural differences are also important when focusing on DEI practices. “So what are those key behaviors and mindsets that managers need to be working on in order to be inclusive, how they provide those ratings, and how they're providing that feedback?” She said it is also key to prepare employees for these conversations, so both parties are set up for success. Koepp asked the panel about compassionate feedback and Lomelí said that in the gathered metrics at BetterUp, they have more than 2 million coaching sessions added to partner data. The metrics show that in times of uncertainty, having a strong culture of feedback and a well-built coaching structure, employees feel more supported by their manager, peers, and their organization. “And because employees feel more supported, we see improvements in team innovation, agility, resilience, and performance,” she said. When it comes to burnout and highly motivated people such as healthcare workers, Pimentel said UCSF saw a great deal of disengagement from their faculty during the pandemic. Her team’s solution in addressing the issue was offering appreciation and increased communication about employee needs such as pay. “We started having different cultural events with the faculty and residents to show them our appreciation,” she said. “We did an underrepresented minority bowling event so people could meet one another and feel that there are resources, and others that care about them.”Transparent and Contextualized Compensation With the goal of increased transparency and reducing gender and racial pay gaps, new laws in California and other states require the position’s salary or hourly wage range to be posted in any internal or external job announcement.As the compensation expert based in a public company in California, Chowdhury said this conversation has been her focus for the last few months. There are different ways companies are sharing their pay structures, some upon request, others publishing on an accessible shared site. “Most companies have really embraced this change, it’s the way of the future,” she said. Chowdhury said Box has decided to share their salaries globally, not just in the states where mandated.Chowdhury shared the importance of context in compensation.“We wanted to have consistent treatment,” Chowdhury said. “We didn't want employees in California to feel like they had to ask to get that information, and then if you're in New York or Poland you can't.”Additionally, conversation and context are important before sharing numbers, Chowdhury said. “You have to help people understand how these ranges are developed and what their position and range is,” she said.Although it can be tricky to communicate about pay without sharing performance ratings, Box’s process with employees is about sharing feedback, sharing the message behind the rating, and avoiding labels. “I feel like more and more, we will have to be very transparent,” Chowdhury said. “We are going to have to share that if you have this specific performance rating, this is the kind of increase you're gonna expect to get, with this as the multiplier.”Chowdhury said she believes we are also going to start seeing leaders and managers being more regimented in their compensation decisions. “They have to own those decisions, be able to talk about it, and explain it to their employees,” she said.The concept of pay parity, ensuring that employees in the same job and location are paid fairly to one another regardless of gender and ethnicity, is also being added to the conversation. “I think there's gonna be more discipline and more focus on the internal parody of making compensation decisions,” Chowdhury said. “ I see it as a positive thing with pay transparency. The more knowledge we can share, the more we're all on the same page, the better.” Chowdhury said this will all take some time but that she was interested in how other companies are managing these conversations and enabling managers.Sarupria said Splunk uses segmentation (a tool in performance management that defines different groups of employees) for their talent acquisition decisions, which does affect an employee’s goals and compensation. “People do not know where they stand relative to certain individuals, but they do know what percentage of the work they're getting right,” she said. “So from there, they can gauge how they're performing.” Compensation is intricate and involved, Sarupria said, adding the whole pay-for-performance branding needs a refresh.Chowdhury agreed and said there are multiple elaborate factors that play a role in determining how someone is paid but that the future of compensation will be market driven. “Payment decisions are not just made on performance, it's about location, relocation, and even a company’s tier system,” she said. “I think we will see that base pay will just be market driven. Performance is going to be removed from this whole conversation.”Chowdhury said companies may reward performance somewhere else, like with bonus scales and perhaps will be based on equity. However, the conversation and debate are ongoing with pay transparency laws and inflation in play. “The conversation is shifting,” Chowdhury said. “We all need to get on the same page and have enough data to make these decisions.”Focusing on a Flourishing WorkforceNearing the end of the discussion, Lomelí was asked to define well-being as opposed to wellness. “That is a wonderful question,” she said. “The way I would think about it is that well-being is something that we can drive to and there are different predictors for it. It's your physical wellbeing, your emotional cognitive wellbeing, all of those striving behaviors impact your wellbeing.”Wellness is more of a driver of well-being, Lomelí said.“What's most important is that being well and flourishing has a huge impact on your performance, your ability as a manager, and your team's performance innovation,” Lomelísaid.  “And, it serves as a buffer, especially in the environment that we're living in today, especially here in Silicon Valley.”Krista Sherer is a strategic communications consultant with a background in journalism and corporate communications. She resides in Sebastopol, Calif. 

Overcome Stubborns
By Sybil Fitzpatrick | June 08, 2023

How Well-Being Is a Key Ingredient in Healthy Work Lives and Company Success

“It’s a normal part of our company culture to engage with our system of well-being. And that's [the culture] we want to create,” said Dr. Jeff Tzeng, the newly appointed senior vice president of health and well-being at AT&T in a fireside chat conversation at From Day One’s Dallas conference. AT&T is focusing on this culture of well-being because they want to increase productivity and make it a better company, says Dr. Jeff, as his colleagues call him.Interviewed by Shelly Hagan, economic development and government reporter at Bloomberg, Dr. Jeff shed light on their renewed focus on employee well-being and the path to a more holistic individual approach.Like many companies, the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for the adoption of mental health strategies. With a growing recognition of the importance of mental health in the workplace, AT&T has made significant strides to enhance its offerings and support systems. Dr. Jeff’s role exemplifies the commitment AT&T has for fostering a positive work environment and prioritizing the overall well-being of its employees.While the emphasis that AT&T places on health and well-being is not new, it represents a dedicated effort to formalize and elevate their employee initiatives. By understanding the needs of their workforce and studying industry trends, AT&T aims to create a comprehensive framework that caters to employees mental, physical, financial, and career well-being.They recognize that supporting employee mental health requires a multi-faceted approach. Dr. Jeff highlighted the importance of both products and policies in this endeavor. From a product perspective, AT&T offers a range of services, including employee assistance programs, therapy, coaching services and self-serve apps. These resources are designed to provide timely, accessible and comprehensive support to employees.Dr. Jeff also emphasizes opportunities for the “sandwich generation,” or workers who are caretakers for both young children and aging adults. “We traditionally think about our employee services for caregiving for children. Right? But you know, many of you are probably in the same age bracket as me…[in which] you're also fortunate to have parents who are still here, maybe they're aging a little bit.” By broadening their perspective on what caretaking is and who it impacts, they offer more beneficial initiatives like caregiver leave, extended parental leave, and reimagined, broader sick leave policies that ensure employees have time dedicated to their well-being.Dr. Jeff Tzeng and Shelly Hagan spoke during the grand-finale session of From Day One's Dallas conference (photo by Steve Bither for From Day One)Dr. Jeff acknowledged that employee utilization of these offerings remains a challenge. Traditionally, employees often underutilize traditional benefits like 401(k) matching and free employee assistance programs. Dr. Jeff is actively seeking solutions to encourage greater participation in employee benefits. He acknowledged that there is persistent stigma surrounding mental health benefits and opportunities for self-care.AT&T recognizes the need to destigmatize mental health concerns and foster an environment where employees feel comfortable seeking assistance. The company is taking a proactive approach by engaging in open conversations that normalize discussions around mental health. The aim is to create an environment where seeking support is viewed as a normal part of self-care while de-emphasizing the pervasive “Hustle Culture”. The journey to destigmatization requires ongoing efforts at all levels, understanding that everyone’s comfort level may vary. Being such a large corporation with multiple generations and viewpoints, change can take time.Investing in employee well-being is not just for the workers but also a strategic business decision. The direct correlation between employee well-being and productivity is easy to see. When employees' physical and mental health needs are addressed, they can fully dedicate themselves to their work. By offering comprehensive well-being benefits, AT&T strives to create an inclusive and thriving work culture. This commitment to employees' well-being enhances the company's brand and ensures a win-win situation where employees are happier, productivity soars and employee retention is high.Sybil Fitzpatrick is a Dallas-based freelance writer, passionate about storytelling, evangelizing products and ideas, and leadership principles. 


The From Day One Newsletter is a monthly roundup of articles, features, and editorials on innovative ways for companies to forge stronger relationships with their employees, customers, and communities.

Overcome Stubborns
By Lisa Jaffe | June 08, 2023

Saving Money and Empowering Employees: The Value of Fertility Benefits

In today's competitive job market, companies are constantly seeking ways to retain their current employees and attract top talent. One powerful tool that has emerged in recent years is the inclusion of fertility benefits in the company's standard package. Fertility benefits not only contribute to the overall well-being of employees but also have a significant impact on the company's bottom line. By offering support throughout the family-forming journey, including infertility treatment, adoption, and menopause, companies can demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) while improving employee retention and reducing the costs associated with turnover, as well as keeping costs of medical claims in check.Taylor Padalino, an account executive at Carrot Fertility, spoke during a From Day One virtual conference about how her own personal experience of infertility drives her belief that these benefits should be part of a company’s core offering. "If you've considered fertility benefits in the past due to employee demand, it's likely that DEI goals and employee retention were among the key driving factors for considering them,” she said during her thought leadership spotlight.Fertility Benefits For AllFertility benefits have become increasingly crucial in promoting diversity and inclusion within the workforce. They speak to different age groups, genders, and sexual identities, she said. They go beyond traditional notions of family planning, encompassing a wide range of needs such as supporting the LGBTQ+ community, single parents, and women going through menopause. By providing access to fertility treatments, adoption resources, and menopause support, companies can create a more inclusive environment and foster employee loyalty.Padalino used real examples to illustrate how they can help employees. Susie and Cara, a same-sex couple planning to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), are concerned about the financial implications of needing multiple rounds of IVF to create the large family they imagined. They figure they’ll harvest multiple embryos to increase the chances of having twins. But because education is a key component of their fertility benefit, they learn that there are increased risks and costs for birthing twins or triplets. They are more likely to be born early or need time in the NICU. In the end, they opt for a single embryo transfer and give birth to a healthy baby.The average cost of a multiple birth can be more than $150,000, compared with $21,000 for a single birth. Padalino said that she has seen claims of more than a million dollars for twin and triplet pregnancies and birth.Michael and Nick, another same sex couple, seek to build their family through adoption. They figure they’d go through an agency, which can cost $30,000 to $60,000. But their family building benefit hooks them up with an expert who tells them about self-guided adoption, where they create a profile and connect with expectant mothers. The cost for this can be $10,000-$15,000. They save a substantial amount of money while fulfilling their dream of becoming parents.Being Mindful of MenopauseMenopause, often overlooked in the workplace, is an area where companies can provide much-needed support. The costs related to lost productivity, absenteeism, and even resignation related to menopause symptoms runs into the billions of dollars per year. Padalino told the story of Rebecca, a VP of finance, who starts experiencing night sweats, sleep interruption, and increased anxiety when she’s 49. She’s been with the company for 15 years, and her expertise has great value, but over the next year, her symptoms worsen and she’s fatigued, has trouble focusing, and is struggling to complete tasks she knows by heart.Taylor Padalino led the thought leadership spotlight (company photo)Her primary care doctor, like most, doesn’t have extra training in menopause and hormonal changes, and tells her the symptoms are part of life and will eventually decrease. She tells Rebecca that hormone replacement can increase her risk of cancer. Rebecca considers changing to work from home, despite her love of the in-office experience. At least she could sleep later and avoid the commute. But she learns about a menopause benefit that can connect her with experts who have extensive training in endocrinology as it relates to older women. There is also a support group of her colleagues where she can exchange information and simply feel seen. Once she talks to the expert, she starts HRT, the risks for her are lower than she thought. Her symptoms quickly subside, and she is able to stay in the office and return to peak performance.Supporting Your WorkforceStatistics reinforce the importance of fertility benefits. Globally, one in six couples face infertility, Padalino said, noting that she knows personally it is one of the most emotionally devastating experiences I’ve had.” Nearly two-thirds of the LGBTQ+ community express their readiness to start a family, and 80% of people would consider changing jobs for access to fertility benefits. In the United States alone, 1.3 million women enter menopause annually, highlighting the need for comprehensive support in this area.When implementing fertility benefits, it is crucial to ensure clinical oversight and a program that incorporates current best practices. For example, having a single embryo transfer policy in place can result in better outcomes for both mother and baby while mitigating high-cost claims associated with multiple births. At Carrot Fertility, their 93% single embryo transfer rate surpasses the national average by 20%. A plan should also explore first-line interventions and less invasive options before pursuing expensive treatments like IVF. Think fertility testing, nutrition counseling, and precise ovulation tracking, which can help increase the chances of natural conception and reduce the need for costly interventions.Padalino told the audience that including fertility benefits in a company's package is a strategic decision that aligns with both employee well-being and cost containment goals. By supporting employees throughout their family-forming journeys, companies can demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion while simultaneously reducing turnover costs and attracting top talent. Fertility benefits have the potential to make a positive impact on individuals, families, and the company's bottom line.Editor's Note: From Day One thanks our partner, Carrot Fertility, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight.Lisa Jaffe is a freelance writer who lives in Seattle with her son and a very needy rescue dog named Ellie Bee. She enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, and trying to get better at ceramics.

Overcome Stubborns
By Todd Nelson | June 07, 2023

Embracing a New Era of Talent Assessment

Leonardo da Vinci gets credit for inventing, among other things, the parachute, the armored car and the resume. Some 500-plus years later, employers still use the resume to assess job seekers’ potential.That’s a problem, accelerated today with resume-scanning algorithms that can introduce biases and exclude many aspiring job candidates.“Resumes don’t predict a damn thing,” Scott Dettman, chief executive officer of Avenica, said during a presentation in May at a From Day One conference in Minneapolis.Dettman should know. He helped prove that resumes have no predictive value while working at ManpowerGroup. A massive study there, done with Google and Cognizant, concluded that resumes cannot forecast how a job applicant will perform. Or even whether someone will get hired.Using resumes to assess job candidates, therefore, amounts to an act of “collective insanity,” Dettman said. “People are so much more than a resume.”Besides resumes, Dettman contended, another obstacle to job seekers is human nature. Under the diffusion of innovation theory, which looks at how an idea or product spreads over time, only 15.5% of people are innovators or early adopters, including hiring managers.“When we think about early career or entry-level people from different backgrounds or experiences, we are looking at basically 15.5% of hiring managers who are likely to bet on somebody who doesn’t have a proven track record of experience, a proven track record of doing a certain thing,” Dettman said.Dettman defined potential as latent characteristics or “hidden superpowers” that, if developed, will lead to later success. Inherent within that definition is the idea that potential needs some kind of catalyst to kick start it. That’s less likely if the hiring manager is a laggard one rather than an innovator or early adopter.“To achieve our potential, we need to have opportunity,” Dettman said. “But that opportunity is going to be greatly diffused based on who we get a chance to talk to.”At Avenica, Dettman is leading efforts to find a better way to help job seekers unlock their potential. In his view, that means moving from resumes and an employer-centered, demand-side search for talent to an inclusive, supply-side focused method where candidates demonstrate their potential and develop skills as they advance in their careers.Avenica, an entry-level career matchmaking company based in Minneapolis, gets 300 to 500 applications a day, Dettman said. Candidates have the opportunity to progress through levels on the company’s platform.Scott Dettman, the CEO of Avenica, led the thought leadership spotlight (photo by Cassandra Sajna for From Day One)This self-directed process doesn’t filter out job seekers based on experience or where they went to college. Rather, it enables candidates to show that they can follow directions, be responsive, do what they say they’re going to do, pay attention and communicate effectively.“For the vast majority of entry-level jobs in corporate America, those key kinds of attributes are the pillars of success,” Dettman said. “If you can do those things, you’re going to learn how to do all the other stuff through the process of exposure and experience.”The platform’s levels include various “micro-experiences,” such as watching a video about a company and writing an email that summarizes key points, Dettman said. Candidates who prove “their level of grit, their level of tenacity and also their level of proficiency” get invited to schedule a meeting. That meeting is “more like therapy than it is like an interview,” Dettman said. Job seekers may get asked, for example, about challenges they’ve faced, what they do for fun, what friends say about them or what their guilty pleasure is. “We get to know these individuals, we get to hear their story, then we get to help them craft that narrative in a way that they may not even be comfortable with yet,” Dettman said.Candidates explain what makes them unique and describe the “superpowers” that underscore their potential. That puts them in charge of whether they get access to an opportunity.Using its approach, Avenica has launched more than 2,000 careers in recent years, Dettman said. Candidates stay with their employees for three times longer, with many getting promoted. Some 62% of candidates were Black, Indigenous and people of color.“The secret behind every great company is great people,” Dettman said. “Today, too many great people are being missed, are being ignored or are just flat out rejected because of words on a resume. We can do better.”Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Avenica, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight. Todd Nelson is a Minnesota-based journalist who writes for newspapers in the Twin Cities.

Overcome Stubborns
By Erika Riley | June 06, 2023

With a Bumper Crop of New Options, Benefits Leaders Need to Make Smart Choices

It’s no secret that employees expect more from employers than they did five years ago. Companies have offered innovative solutions from pet care to travel-as-a-benefit to meet the demand. But companies only have so many resources, especially nowadays, as the economy begins to decline. “Many of us are thinking about coming out of this couple of years of such an intensive talent and labor market, where a lot of companies have been under pressure to offer more and more,” said Joanna Daly, vice president of total rewards at IBM. “So I do think we're at an inflection point.”As a result, employers have to make choices about what benefits are the most valuable to employees and prospective hires.Daly spoke with moderator Bryan Walsh, editor for Future Project at Vox Media, at From Day One’s virtual April conference, “Creative Total Rewards to Set Employers Apart,” during a fireside chat session.
“Total rewards” refers to the combination of compensation and benefits that the company provides. At IBM, Daly said, total rewards exist within a broader value proposition and must align with the company’s goals, values, and culture.Keeping Total Rewards SustainableOne challenge employers face is maintaining sustainable benefits, especially in a changing economic landscape. Daly approaches important decisions regarding sustainability by working through a few key questions.First, she considers scale. While it’s important to consider how a new benefit will fit into your company now, it’s also critical to consider how it will work down the line. What are your company’s growth plans? Will this benefit still work as you scale your headcount?“Is that seemingly small investment going to start to become potentially a pretty large expenditure?” Daly asked.Secondly, Daly considers choice. Every dollar spent on one benefit is a dollar the company is choosing not to spend somewhere else. Why is this the best choice for the company to make?Next, she considers automation. Every human resources team only has so much time on their hands, and introducing a new benefit can eat up even more of that time. That’s why it’s important to automate wherever you can. If a benefit can be automated right from the beginning, it’ll help free up your team’s time.“Is there something that is simple to administer that achieves most of the outcome versus something highly complex that could end up taking a lot more of your time and effort to deliver?” Daly said.Lastly, Daly considers if the offering ties into the company’s culture and values.“How do you maximize the sum of what you're offering to employees so that it's cohesive? People actually perceive more value out of [the sum] than than its individual parts,” Daly said. “And I think one of the most effective ways to do that is really try to align to your culture and your values.”One way to align total rewards with company culture is to take a “design thinking” approach to benefits. Daly considers all of the personas that play a role in benefits–including the employees, their families, business leaders, and prospective hires–to find the areas where their needs align rather than looking at all their differences.“It's where you can find that alignment, that I think that you can find offerings that have that mutually reinforcing impact,” Daly said.For example, IBM used a design thinking approach to create its recognition programs. By focusing on what behaviors IBM was trying to reinforce within different personas in the company, the team was able to create a recognition program that is easy to use and grounded in the company’s culture.But why is it important for companies to be sustainable about their benefits in the first place? Daly stressed that introducing a benefit and then taking it away is much worse than never offering it at all. This is due to “loss aversion,” or the idea that people tend to notice if something is taken away more than they would if it was never there to begin with. Daly tries to think of the people who will be in her role years down the line, and how her decisions will affect them and the employees at large.“Are they going to thank me for trying my best to make good decisions? Or will they be cursing my name, that I've left them with some things to clean up? Trying to envision that future person who will be sitting in this seat is something that guides that long-term decision making,” Daly said.Total Rewards ChallengesHuman resources teams face a number of challenges when it comes to building a total rewards package, deciding what benefits to include, and rolling those benefits out to employees.One of those challenges is competing with peer companies’ offerings. Employees are bound to hear about other benefits in their industry and might wonder why their company doesn’t offer the same.But Daly reminded attendees that benefits are a long-term space, and introducing things just to take them away later or simply introducing them to respond to demand, might not play well into long-term planning.Daly said that it’s fine to learn about your competitors and take inspiration from other companies—as long as you’re not too reactive to them. Every “good idea” is only a good idea as long as it fits in with company culture.Joanna Daly and Bryan Walsh during the virtual conference (photo by From Day One)“Does this reinforce other parts of our employee value proposition and culture? And if you can't really get the answers aligned on those questions, then it's probably better not to follow suit and introduce something just because others may be doing it,” Daly said.Of course, companies have also faced the challenge of accommodating changing attitudes since the pandemic, whether it’s in regard to hybrid work, flexible schedules, or the demand for more benefits. Many employers have introduced new benefits during the pandemic to react to demand and better support employees, IBM included. Recently, IBM introduced emergency backup care for parents, who often struggle to find adequate childcare if their primary option, such as daycare or family members, fell through.By introducing this benefit, IBM was able to prevent employees from unexpectedly taking the day off, calling in sick, or falling behind on meetings and routine work. Not only does it help both the employees and the employer, but it also plays into the larger company culture of supporting one another.Since the pandemic, Daly has noticed some other changes in general attitudes towards benefits. Namely, she said, employees want their benefits to be easier to navigate. Benefits exist to make employees’ lives easier, not to stress them out even more.Additionally, she said she sees a need for more support toward financial goals during times of financial uncertainty. This can include helping to pay off student loans or saving for retirement. And employees want to stay relevant and competitive during these times of uncertainty, so skill-building and career development are extra important.In terms of schedules, she sees hourly workers wanting predictability in their schedules so they can plan their lives around their shifts. At IBM, Daly explained, every team has their own approach to hybrid, remote, and in-person work. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and teams are trusted to make their own routines.But even for seasoned HR professionals, there are always new challenges. Daly was surprised by a general shift toward employees expecting more help from their employers in a broader sense. She said it’s not uncommon for employees to ask about tax advisory or tax prep support during tax season or to inquire about benefits for their pets–many of whom were acquired during the pandemic.“Maybe before, there was a set of things that we all kind of understood the employer was providing in terms of benefits. Now, I think it's sort of blurred,” Daly explained. “People are asking for help more broadly. But that's also where we have to be deliberate about where we invest and where we spend our time and money versus things that people might be okay to manage on their own.”Measuring Value and SuccessWith so many options for employers in terms of total rewards packages, it’s vital to know how to measure what is and isn’t working. Sometimes it’s hard for leaders to see the value of certain rewards, especially those that are non-monetary.For example, IBM’s recognition program has a mix of monetary rewards, point-based rewards (which can be redeemed for physical prizes), and digital cards that employees can send to one another.Although the monetary rewards might seem the most “valuable” at first glance, Daly explained that every card that an employee sends to someone leads to five more sent.“And when we step back and thought about the reason behind this, it's really that someone took time out of their day to recognize and appreciate someone else,” she said. “And that act is really communicating, ‘I see you, I value you.’”Measuring the success of rewards, in general, can be difficult, especially when so many things are changing at once. Daly keeps success in mind in a few different ways.“When I think of the total rewards space, the first thing is, I don't want any of the total rewards, offerings, compensation or benefits to be a pain point, and I don't want them to be barriers to recruitment or to retaining our employees,” she said.Still, she also doesn’t want to overdo benefits or invest in the wrong rewards. It’s not just about being above market. It’s about being market-competitive, offering a solid package, and differentiating packages based on skills.“For me, that's success,” she said. “Others will have a different answer.”Erika Riley is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

Overcome Stubborns
By Lisa Jaffe | June 06, 2023

Transporting Your Corporate Values and Culture to Widespread Workplaces

How do you help a distributed workforce succeed in a time of flux and uncertainty? How do you get people who work in different places and different time zones to work well together? And how do you know which people and teams need to be in person most of the time to function best? Wayfair is trying to figure that out. “Initially, there was no strategy on what people were located where,” said chief people officer for tech, Cathy Peterman, at From Day One's conference in Seattle. Peterman was interviewed by Bridget Chavez of KIRO 7 News in the opening fireside chat session. Just before the pandemic, the company was trying to revamp 20-year-old computer architecture and hired where they could. “It was a free for all.”Then, with the pandemic, most of the 16,000 global employees were working from home, at least part of the time, with tech largely fully remote. But remote working isn’t the Wayfair culture. Return to office was key to who they are.Initially, they didn’t think they could ask tech to return to the office, they were all over the world, talking to each other on conference calls. It didn’t make sense. But most of the non-tech force is in Boston. “We told them to come back Tuesday through Thursday. You can imagine the discord. Why is tech special? This isn’t fair.”Six months later, they are trying again. “Some want to come back in; they want the connection. But some don’t. They want to code from where they are with their headphones and their dog. Some started from home during the pandemic and just don’t have the connection to others in the company.”The heated debates that have swirled around these decisions have been ongoing in part because people didn’t feel heard. “I made a mistake the first time. I was listening, but I didn’t tell them what I was hearing. There was some backlash.”Be Open With Decision MakingTransparency might have eased the transition. “If they understood the rationale behind the decision, and what their peers were saying about in-person work, it might have gone more smoothly,” Peterman said.Wayfair has done two RIFs recently. “You can imagine the pain our employees feel. But it is the right thing to do for the company.” Still, it can cause a hit to the trust she is trying to build when people feel blindsided by decisions, whether it’s a return to office policy or the potential for layoffs.Peterman said she is trying to bring more vulnerability and transparency to Wayfair. “I’ve had to become more caring and compassionate.” And honest. She admitted her previous mistakes regarding return to office at an all hands meeting and had people reach out with thanks. “I had one person tell me they had never heard an admission of error in that public forum. We will make more mistakes. We are human. But bringing visibility and vulnerability will go a long way.”Retaining Talent in Turbulent TimesPeterman knows that some people won’t like some of the changes in the company and will want to leave. But retention of key talent matters, perhaps especially in rocky times. “We are focused on the work and the people. We aren’t building AI or other cool tech. We are e-commerce. When we talk to them in interviews and retention conversations, we talk about them being part of building a new future for Wayfair. We key in on that.”Peterman and Chavez kicked off the From Day One Seattle conference in their fireside chat session titled, “Transporting Your Corporate Valyes and Culture to Widespread Workplaces" (photo by David Ryder for From Day One)There is also a focus on the culture of collaboration and caring. That feeds into the rationale for being an in-person company. “We build a caring environment through relationships with each other. And we think it’s easier to do that when we are together.”When people leave or there are layoffs, she said they try to emphasize the opportunity to grow skills with the remaining team members. For example, when the DEI partner for technology left, the position wasn’t filled. Now it is on the rest of the team to drive those efforts forward. “We aren’t experts. This is an opportunity for us to take on new skills.”As a parting piece of advice, Peterman said that HR leaders should remember that they, too, are human. “We have underestimated the toll the last couple years has taken on us. We talk about RTO, caring about employees, the fight for talent, and all the things we had to lead our companies through. I’m tired. I’m still energized but I’m tired. I talk to peers in different companies, and I think we need to come together more to support each other and share.”Lisa Jaffe is a freelance writer who lives in Seattle with her son and a very needy rescue dog named Ellie Bee. She enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, and trying to get better at ceramics.

Overcome Stubborns
By Lisa Jaffe | June 05, 2023

Empower Your Workforce With Health Navigators: Guiding Employees Through Pivotal Moments

More than a quarter of all health care dollars are wasted due to failed care delivery, lack of care coordination, or unnecessary treatment. It’s an astounding percentage, exacerbated by rising health care costs. Given corporate focus on cost containment, it is an issue that companies need to address. The wasted money is a symptom of a larger problem, though: how to provide health care solutions to employees that are attractive, useful, and cost effective.In a From Day One webinar, two executives from the health navigation company Accolade talked about how this kind of service can help achieve cost containment, better outcomes, and stellar appreciation from users. “In a survey by Willis Towers Watson, two out of every three U.S. employers plan to prioritize controlling rising health care benefit costs over the next three years,” said Jen McDonnell, VP of solutions management for Accolade. “You are under ever growing pressure to both contain and even reduce your trend and under pressure to help your organization attract and retain top talent. Many of you are likely experiencing frustration, because the programs you worked so hard to put in place and invest in and to take care of your employees are not necessarily delivering the return on investment that you expected.”Life has become harder for all of us, McDonnell said. “The pressure of work, the economy, and caring for parents and children all take a toll. Mental health care demand has skyrocketed, and it’s compounded by the shortage of providers. And while the rise of specialty clinical point solutions has brought much needed specialty care to millions, it's also made it more confusing for people to know how and where to get the care they need when they need it.”“Consumers need someone to help them understand the benefits available to them, to access them, to find high-quality providers, and get appointments with them that aren’t weeks away, and to help make the really hard decisions they often face when dealing with a serious health issue,” McDonnell said. “A lot of HR and benefit leaders are turning to advocacy and navigation partners like Accolade to avoid that wasted spend.”Erin Hirshorn, RN, senior director of population health at Accolade, said that these services can predict which members will cost more, and that can lead to opportunities for early intervention or providing access to those who may not have it. She pointed to a Robert Wood Johnson study that found 80% of health outcomes are impacted by life circumstances, like access to care, cost or family caregiving responsibilities. Any of these can delay care which can lead to worse outcomes and higher costs.It’s considered dogma that a strong relationship with your primary care physician leads to cost savings, said McDonnell. But data suggests the majority don’t understand that, with about half the population either lacking a PCP (primary care physician) or a good relationship with one. It could be that they are the victim of the shortage of primary care providers, or they travel so much for work that they can’t easily access a provider in their home area. It could be that their relationship with their doctor is so bad that they avoid care. Maybe they come from a marginalized community and don’t feel seen by their provider. Accolade’s virtual connections allow people to have access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They can treat both physical and mental health needs, and patients can look for a provider that is, for instance, LGBTQ+ friendly.“In the 15 years that we've been in this business, one truth we’ve learned is that almost no one cares about their benefits until they need to use them,” McDonnell said. “If no one in your family has diabetes, then you don't really know what benefits you have to cover diabetes. People are overwhelmed with their daily lives, and they won’t spend time learning about benefits that they might not need, or no one in their family needs. But when people get sick, they care a lot about those benefits.”The problem is they lack the foundational knowledge of their benefits, said McDonnell. “They don't know where to start. They're often scared, they're not feeling well, which makes it even harder to be a smart consumer. The goal is to get information and guidance to the to these, in the moment when they're sick, when they're experiencing symptoms, facing a new diagnosis or caring for someone who is. And that's hard. It’s like being a dating site that matches sick people with the benefit or provider who is best and uniquely suited for them right now in this moment. Many people don't have anyone to turn to so they turn to WebMD and crowdsourcing ideas from their friends and family. But companies like Accolade guide people through this entire journey.”Jen McDonnell, Accolade's VP of solutions management and marketing, presented on the importance of accessible health care and benefits (company photo)McDonnell said the data Accolade uses to identify when people need or are seeking care spurs them to reach out to them at that moment. “We use a lot of modern technology and behavioral science to capture their attention to let them know we see them and that we're here to help. We identify the steps that they need to take, and we guide them through their entire journey.” In the last 15 years, Accolade has operationalized doing this across the entire population of people from low through high risk. “We created the concept of health care moments that matter the most,” she said. These include when someone is experiencing symptoms, when someone needs to find new providers because they moved, or there is a new diagnosis and a need for a specialist. Chronic conditions can also lead to some of these moments: someone who has well controlled diabetes may be thrown off balance by a life change like divorce or death. “We identify people in those moments, reach out to them, and let them know we can help. We tell them the steps they need to take, the benefits they have, what programs are available to them, and then we help them stay on that path.”The payoff isn’t always just a great medical outcome or financial savings. Hirshorn told the story of a patient identified through their stratification model. The person had stage four bladder cancer with metastasis to the bone. “It’s a scary diagnosis, not just for the person, but for the family as well,” she said. “This person had been hospitalized, and discharge is a time when a lot of things can go wrong. We had a nurse case manager working with this family, and she found a few errors with prescriptions of pain medication, and a lack of instruction about medical equipment that the patient was sent home with. She was able to work with the hospital and the discharging provider to make sure that the the correction for the pain medication was made, that the patient and family understood the best way to take the medications, that home health care was set up so they could understand the equipment that was sent home, and we even pointed them to a expert medical opinion.” Oftentimes, during a diagnosis like this, a confirmation of the diagnosis is a good idea. Second opinions can also let patients explore other treatment plans. “Even if they recommend the same thing, it builds confidence in the patient and family that they are on the right course.”The mental toll of such a diagnosis can be brutal, and Hirshorn said they were able to help the wife and daughter connect to some mental health support through their EAP program. “Most importantly, there was somebody hanging in there with them through their entire journey with the family, helping them navigate through a really difficult time.”None of this obviates the potential financial benefits of having a good navigator program, said McDonnell. “A tremendous amount of health care costs is driven by the overuse, misuse, or lack of use of the health care system. What we do is solve for a lot of those by reacting to symptoms. We triage them and guide them to the best place of care. If they should go see a PCP versus visiting the emergency room, then we're going to help guide them there. A lot of people use the emergency room and urgent care these days because they either don't have a PCP or they can't get an appointment, or they can't find a PCP that’s open when they need them. In managing a chronic illness, we help get people back on track, so they don’t turn into a high-risk patient. For many people, getting them the care they need rather than avoiding it or getting the wrong level of care, can help them remain a lower risk patient, and lower risk patients cost less.”Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Accolade, for sponsoring this webinar.Lisa Jaffe is a freelance writer who lives in Seattle with her son and a very needy rescue dog named Ellie Bee. She enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, and trying to get better at ceramics.

Overcome Stubborns
By Emilia Benton | June 05, 2023

Cultivating Renewed Purpose and Community in the Hybrid Era

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, workers and employers alike had to respond and adapt quickly to a new normal. They focused on coping, survival, and productivity. Three years later, much of America’s workforce has largely embraced a hybrid model of work. However, many workers have suffered burnout in the aftermath of these changes, resorting to “quiet quitting” while exploring new opportunities that cater to the flexibility they desire. The third session at From Day One’s Houston conference, a panel moderated by Paul Pavlou, Ph.D., dean and Cullen Distinguished Chair professor, C.T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, explored new approaches that employers can take to create a sense of renewed purpose and spirit of community, as well as to support workers who are tired of adapting and yearning for stability. Early in the session, Rebecca Taylor, the co-founder of SkillCycle, raised the point that any enforced change has to be intentionally planned and well thought out. It also has to promote stability while leaving room for the unexpected.“The hardest part to remember, even when you're certified in change management, and have done this before, is to leave space for the human experience, and for how every person in the company is going to experience this change,” she said. “As you're navigating change, leaving that room for people is where you have to pay ten times more attention than you thought.”As the session moved forward, Pavlou touched on how employers can motivate employees in an uncertain and ever-changing environment. While working from home may have seemed like a dream in terms of flexibility in the beginning, some employees found themselves working until late into the night at home, which can obviously contribute to burnout and drive employees away. He highlighted the challenge of motivating employees, particularly when they’re working 100% virtually and not meeting and seeing people face-to-face.Paula Harris the senior vice president, community affairs, and executive director of the Astros Foundation for the Houston Astros emphasized the importance of flexibility. One “consistent thing, [is the] big need and big desire for flexibility.” In a changing workplace, workers want flexibility and more control over when, where, and how they are working.On how Air Products is approaching flexible work, Mindy Fitzgerald the the global director of diversity, culture, and engagement, said, “We do have an environment where we do like people to be together,” said Fitzgerald. “But when they come together, they have to have it has to be valuable, and it has to be purposeful. At our company, we instituted something we called the five C's: connection, collaboration, co-creation, celebration, and community. These are really important in building the kind of culture that you need. It's a place to belong, it's a place to connect, it's a place to be known and know others.”Fitzgerald added that employees’ work, productivity, and performance can greatly inform the level of connection and in-person time that a team requires. Trust is another key element. “I think we need to learn to trust our people, and our people need to learn to trust the company and the guidance in the direction it gets,” she said.Pavlou added that organizations also need to prioritize fun, in the sense that employees can get comfortable socializing with each other through activities unrelated to their job responsibilities. Neglecting to highlight this facet has made it harder for employers to recruit for open positions.“Human beings are not hardwired for stagnation. So, when people say that they're looking for opportunities to learn and grow, it's actually this instinctive drive to embrace challenges and to stay on the lookout for how you're going to navigate your own environment,” Taylor added. “[It’s also] about adaptation. No one likes interviewing when employees leave companies, so if you can save them [from leaving], and show opportunity within their current role, within their current company, and give them what they're craving, then you're going to see more of that retention, and attract more people, too, because people are attracted to companies where people stay.”Lamonica Spivey, the inclusion, diversity and corporate social responsibility director for TechnipFMC brought up the concept of “cushioning,” a strategy employees use to plan next moves or explore future options.Lamonica Spivey of TechnipFMC during the Houston panel session (photo by Cassandra Sajna for From Day One)“It’s so important to hear from your employees on a continuous basis so that you understand what their needs are and what gaps they need to fulfill, because that's potentially your future talent pipeline within your organization,” she said. Finally, Fitzgerald also highlighted how workers also want honesty and trust, especially when it comes to diversity statistics, investor and stakeholder information, compensation, pay equity, and development opportunities. “They want companies to be real, not perfect, because they want to make a difference in that real company,” she said. “[Engage in] active listening. Use your employee resource groups, which create a psychologically safe space for these individuals to prosper, to tell you what's going on in their minds,” Spivey added. “There is no such thing as over-communicating. It's essential today, and we need to continue to cultivate our leaders as well and keep them up-to-date with new generations who are coming into the workplace.”Emilia Benton is a freelance journalist primarily covering running, health, and fitness, as well as lifestyle, entertainment, and personal finance, among other topics. Her work has appeared in publications such as Runner's World, Women's Running, SELF, Women's Health, and more. Emilia is also a 10-time marathoner and lives in her hometown of Houston with her husband, Omar, and Boston Terrier rescue, Astro.

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