How B Corps Can Create Workplaces That Help Support Worker Well-Being
As they create new ways of doing business that benefit stakeholders and the bottom line, Certified B Corporations are helping to reimagine practices and wellness programs with and for employees. By prioritizing and supporting workers’ mental and physical well-being and seeking employee feedback, B Corps are going beyond the expected by offering benefits and programs designed to meet workers’ needs and nurture compassionate workplaces. This has become increasingly relevant in recent years, as surveys find more than 40% of workers globally struggle with burnout that affects their mental health and productivity.
For those reasons, B Corps are developing new wellness programs that nurture company culture in an era of remote and hybrid work, create more equitable and transparent programs, provide workplaces where people feel safe and accepted, and help shape resilient and sustainable work practices. As Michelle Hirons of B Corp HigherRing shared with B The Change: “When it comes to new benefits, as a proudly progressive company founded to ensure team wellness and with a diverse employee pool, we look for every opportunity to ensure our team’s care.”
B The Change reached out on the B Hive, a community platform for B Corps, to learn about B Corp examples of worker wellness innovations. HigherRing was among those who shared how businesses can work with employees to enhance their well-being and create more resilient companies. Find inspiration in their examples to incorporate training for employees and leaders, seek and act on employee feedback, and provide services that enhance worker well-being.
Workplace Training for Employee Well-Being
JBM Packaging prioritizes support for employee mental health as part of the B Corp’s commitment to better solutions, better lives, and a better world. In 2016, the paper packaging company started its fair chance hiring program to help individuals returning from correctional supervision learn transferrable and meaningful job skills. On a broader scale, JBM offers a personal development program for workers called Better Lives. Two in-house life coaches are available to provide support, accountability, and encouragement to the more than 170 JBM team members.
JBM leaders can participate in an Elevate Leadership Academy that recognizes the need for mental health support in the workplace. Tim Aregood, First Shift Supervisor, said the Elevate Leadership Academy helped him understand the importance of helping team members feel safe and accepted on the production floor. “We have team members who come from various backgrounds and have experienced a lot of trauma in their life,” said Aregood, who has worked at JBM for 16 years. “It’s important for our leadership team to build trust and show that we believe in each person.”
Elevate Leadership Academy helped Aregood better understand the importance of being intentional with his actions as a leader. “I can get easily wrapped up in production details, safety, quality,” Aregood said. “But it’s important that I take the time to talk to people and ask them how they’re doing. You have to build that trust so people feel safe when they come to work.”
In addition to training leaders with effective skills for workplace safety, JBM provides mental health first aid kits for the manufacturing floor. These kits contain items such as stress balls, essential oils, and stress reduction exercises that can be used to help de-escalate situations.
Employee Surveys on Wellness Benefits Help Uncover What’s Working — and What Isn’t
When CEO and Chief Customer Officer Hirons co-founded B Corp HigherRing, she incorporated her professional background in call center and fulfillment operations. Her main motivation to launch a different type of company was the inequitable treatment of workers she had witnessed. “The internal team was granted healthy salaries, robust benefits, and company ownership,” Hirons said. “At the same time, the folks on the front lines responsible for the brand experience with clients and customers were treated as replaceable — hired as contractors with low wages, no benefits, and no stake in the company’s success.”
As a counterpoint, HigherRing operates with team wellness as a primary goal through just and transparent programs and practices. Hirons said the B Corp offers typical wellness benefits — such as health, dental, vision, HSA/FSA, 401k, paid vacation, and paid sick time — as well as a path toward company ownership and at least a living wage. To help surface feedback and suggestions, HigherRing does an annual worker survey to learn how often they use each benefit, which offerings support them, and which may not be as relevant.
“As our team grows and changes and the socio-economic landscape shifts, the team’s needs also fluctuate,” Hirons said, noting that her team spans 31 states and soon will include two Canadian provinces. “Sending this survey allows us to keep a pulse on what benefits are needed for us to stay competitive as an employer, and what benefits best support the wellness of our people.”
HigherRing also goes beyond typical benefits through its partnership with Justworks, a professional employee organization that helps companies manage access to benefits and other human resources tasks. The newest option for HigherRing team members is medical travel benefits of up to $2,000 per employee, a program added after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and reduced access to reproductive health care. “It was very important to us, as a woman-owned company and an ally to the trans community, to respond quickly and protect our employees’ bodily autonomy. Reproductive rights and trans rights are human rights,” Hirons said.
Like HigherRing, B Corp Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR) surveys workers to learn more about the wellness benefits they find most valuable or would like to add. LVR’s most recent addition is offering workers free access to Calm, a mindfulness app that includes guided meditations, breathing programs, stretching exercises, and sleep stories.
By responding to worker requests for benefits, LVR can provide services and programs that are viable and effective. “Creating a list of ideas they would like to do and offer, and asking for your team’s feedback before deciding can be a great way to get everyone in the organization on board with the plan,” said Susana Guerra, Corporate Director of Talent and Purpose at LVR. “It gives everyone the opportunity to weigh in and provide valuable input into the decision-making process.”
Services to Help Add or Expand Mental Well-Being Programs for Workers
As more companies shift to hybrid or remote work schedules, they face new decisions about shaping company culture and ensuring worker wellness. To help meet these needs, B Corp The Human Beauty Movement recently introduced a workplace wellness program for corporate clients called Soul Care Sessions. Services offered as part of Soul Care Sessions include team-building, meditation sessions, stress management, life coaching, and interpersonal skills.
Founder and Chief Human Officer Jennifer Norman said the services aim to help companies address the fact that 80% of employees say stress from work is affecting their home life, and nearly half of companies don’t have an organizational well-being strategy. “Mission-driven organizations, in particular, are seeking to go above and beyond traditional employee benefits to instill a true sense of humanity and interpersonal connection as the lines between personal and professional lives blur,” Norman said. “Getting back to the root of who we are as humans helps us to enhance our sense of self-worth, fulfillment, and purpose.”
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