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Pay Yourself First: An Employee Well-Being Initiative

Posted by Brook White on Tue, May 05, 2015 @ 10:52 AM

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jverrier_LThumbJohn Verrier, Service Leader-Client Support Services, led the Pay Yourself First initiative designed to improve employee well-being.
For the first quarter of 2015, Rho’s Corporate Goal - Pay Yourself First, focused on employee wellness through a variety of educational and behavioral based weekly challenges. Our goal was simple: introduce employees to a wide array of options that could lead to an increase in mental or physical well-being through positive habit development. We wanted employees to view the weekly challenges as if they were part of a buffet table – fill your plate with your favorite options and go back for more at your own pace. Admittedly, some employees felt overwhelmed by this deluge of content initially; however, I believe most appreciated the scattershot approach once they understood the buffet paradigm. Nobody is supposed to eat the entire buffet…at least not all at once!

Now, for a description of the menu: We tailored the options around the concepts of time, energy, and bandwidth management. We had challenges focused on Mental Health, Exercise, Meditation, Mindfulness, Sleep, Nutrition, Volunteering, and effectively managing one’s time. We offered free classes in Meditation & Mindfulness, CrossFit classes twice a week, as well as access to an online cognitive behavioral therapy tool for employees and their family members. We also created a dedicated Meditation Room, for those who need to decompress midday. Beginning in January, each week we introduced employees to a new challenge:meditate
  1. Thrive® – The first challenge was to enroll and participate in Thrive, an evidence-based, online coaching program that uses techniques from cognitive behavior therapy to help people identify and control stressors, improve mood, and feel and function at their best.  Thrive uses video, interactive tools, and a personalization engine to help you meet your goals.  You can choose the skills you want to learn, customize your plan, and track your performance.
  2. Meditation & Mindfulness – The challenge was to meditate in five minute increments at least once per day.  To help employees get started, we offered three workshops designed to introduce employees to meditation.
  3. Sleep – Employees were asked to track their sleeping habits in an effort to improve sleep quality.
  4. appleNutrition – We provided employees with a selection of scientifically-based nutritional information.  The challenge was to spend at least one hour reviewing these educational materials to see whether the content was helpful to interesting and to make three or more positive changes in eating habits or choices based on the information.
  5. Steps – In this challenge, employees were asked to spend a week logging their steps each day to determine their average. Then, spend the next week attempting to boost that daily average by 20%.  Employees were encouraged to follow this 20% increase each week until they averaged around 10,000 steps.
  6. Time Management – Employees were asked to watch an introductory video about Covey Quadrants, and then spend the next three days tracking activities at home and work, mapping each activity to its applicable quadrant.  Finally, employees were asked to spend the rest of the week attempting to shift time spent in Quadrant 4 to Quadrant 2.
  7. Health Assessments – For this challenge, we provided employees with links to various health assessments.  They were then asked to spend one hour reviewing the assessments and associated educational materials to determine what was helpful or interesting.
  8. Exercise – In the exercise challenge, we provided educational materials on exercise., We then asked employees to spend at least 90 minutes during the week engaging in exercise they would not have previously done and to make two or more positive changes in their exercise habits based on the information. 
  9. One Plus Two – The One Plus Two challenge was a about time and bandwidth management.  At the start of each day, employees were asked to define one – just one – high impact action that they would definitely complete.  We suggested putting it as an “all day task” on their Outlook calendar to keep it at the front of mind.  Additionally, employees defined two bonus high impact tasks.  These tasks were great if they could get to them, but no big deal if they couldn’t.  These could also be added to the calendar.  At the start of each day, employees checked back on the previous day’s tasks and determined what was completed.
  10. Volunteer – Employees were encouraged to spend a week focusing on others, by giving back inpennies whatever way they felt was appropriate.  
  11. (literally) Pay Yourself First – We provided educational materials related to long-term financial well-being and asked employees to spend time reviewing their long-term financial plans.  

The Pay Yourself First initiative is directly in line with Rho’s Core Value of “Great People” – Rho employs smart, talented, positive people with sound judgment, a can-do attitude, and a zeal for teamwork.  Rho truly believes their most valuable asset is their employees, and this initiative corroborates that.  Given the incredible response from employees to the Pay Yourself First challenges (~70% engagement), it seems as though that dedication has helped to promote an engaged, happy, and healthy workforce.