I work with people on 12 different time zones, 8 native languages, and cultural variations that impact our inclusion and diversity practices as a team. Adding to the mix, more than 85% of our workforce is composed of millennials (for those who don’t work with millennials, it’s the weirdest and most interesting generation to work with).
Emptor’s founders identified very early on the need to implement HR strategies and cultural best practices associated with our fully remote working condition, the diverse workforce we currently have, and the millennial expectations our team requires to be engaged at work. Interestingly enough, our turnover is close to 1% since we started, but recent and rapid growth requires more than a fair compensation to thrive in the startup world. That’s how the wellness program idea started.
Culture is a relatively new effort for us that includes our core values, our identity, the need to work effectively as an agile team, and deliver good and beautiful products to our clients.
Wellness in companies today
It’s no secret that over 85% of companies now offer some form of wellness program, but according to this Gallup’s study, only 24% of employees are aware of, or participate in, those programs. So, what’s the problem? While most of these companies share a genuine concern for the wellbeing and health risks of their people, wellness programs are often problematic because their main focus is to prevent physical health issues that impact absenteeism and productivity at work.
Workable’s article “The problem with employee wellness programs”identifies another big problem: wellness programs are often discriminatory because they aim to set a “normal” standard for health, thus excluding employees that are under those standards and trying to “fix” them is a huge ethical violation. As they put it in their article:
“Perhaps the biggest problem with corporate wellness programs is the visceral reaction most people have to being subjected to a mild form of eugenics. The very idea of requiring employees to meet health benchmarks is a bit sick, and seems gimmicky at companies that need to address toxic workplace culture.” – Workable, 2017
A holistic approach to wellness
Having done our research, we have a big challenge ahead if we want to implement a successful wellness program. Wellness at Emptor is not only a matter of how to engage our team, but also how to create a sense of purpose, an identity, an inclusive culture and an ethical responsibility towards our team. One of our core values is trust. We’re aiming to create a trust culture inside the company, as well as in our relations with clients and other third parties. Together with the implementation of the Agile framework, Emptor’s HR team will work to reduce turnover, increase retention, increase productivity and creativity, and create a learning community that impacts each team member integrally.
A physical well-being approach to wellness is no longer relevant for our millennials, and the unique and diverse workforce that sets us apart requires more.
That’s why our Wellness program impacts four levels of existence or being in the world: 1) Self – Personal purpose; 2) Self with others – Team purpose; 3) Self within a culture – Emptor’s purpose; and 4) Emptor within a society. In each of these levels of being, five areas of life and work will be addressed as direct initiatives: 1) Work/Life balance; 2) Health and Safety; 3) Growth and development; 4) Recognition; and 5) Engagement. With a robust matrix in place, wellness at Emptor will impact who we are, what we do, and how we feel, constantly.
This image illustrates our Wellness program as of 2019:
This is one of the biggest and most profound challenges we face together as a company. Our recent company-wide offsite in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco, Peru, was one of the most ambitious initiatives included in Wellness that has impacted our team positively (you can read more about it here). Wellness will start in April and, hopefully, go on for many years as a foundation of our identity, our values and our culture at Emptor. Here we go!
By: Valeria Reyes, Head of HR & Comms at Emptor