This guest post is written by Golnar Tahriri, senior recruiter at Classy.
If personal wellness was not at the forefront of everyone’s minds before, the year 2020 made it an unavoidable priority. In parallel, businesses that were fortunate enough to be able to retain their employees were given a challenging opportunity to reimagine what employee wellness and support can look like, throughout the pandemic and beyond.
At Classy, we welcomed this opportunity. While going through a global pandemic we also undertook the journey of becoming a B Corp. This meant that even as a for-profit business, we are committed to adhering to ways of doing business that benefit more than just our shareholders. This includes employees as stakeholders. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment. Our journey and work toward becoming B Corp Certified solidified Classy’s accountability to put our people first.
As we looked to support the wellness of our team, we first looked at what wellness really meant. In the U.S., it’s not uncommon to have grown up with a reactive, one-dimensional approach to our health and wellbeing. Fortunately, over the past decade, more proactive, holistic practices have woven their way into how we approach health, revealing how it is multidimensional (consisting of seven dimensions, actually). The dimensions consist of: physical, emotional, environmental, occupational, intellectual, and spiritual. Classy’s approach to employee wellness is thorough and well-rounded, tackling each one of these facets.
Here is a glimpse into how Classy has been working to ensure our individual wellbeing so that we can bring our full selves to work while finding balance in our daily lives.
Physical Health and Benefits (Targeted Dimensions: Physical, Emotional)
Without satisfying our basic physiological needs it’s nearly impossible to focus on the other stages of taking care of ourselves. Classy provides all employees with medical, dental, and vision benefits, including two generous employer-covered plans. As of today, about 80% of employees are enrolled in our benefits—a stat we are proud of.
In light of the pandemic and shift to remote work, we also made four wellness apps accessible (and free) to all employees:
- Headspace: Rest and mindfulness are integral to our physical wellbeing. Headspace offers guided meditations and content that promotes staying present and managing stress. For those who are newer to meditation, Headspace takes away the abstract intimidation that can come from a new practice.
- Ginger: On-demand mental healthcare. Finding a therapist can be a taxing search. Free access to Ginger allows employees easy access to therapists and psychiatrists through text and video conversation.
- Physera: Physera provides virtual physical therapy, helping treat and prevent physical pain.
- Aaptiv: Virtual workouts have taken off this past year and Aaptiv has a massive library of virtual workout classes to keep fitness interesting.
Our physical and mental wellbeing is also tied to having the space to unwind, unplug, and recharge. Burnout and stress can do serious harm to our health if we don’t find ways to mitigate it. Finding balance is key and we work to provide that flexibility at Classy.
No-Meeting Wednesday Mornings
There’s no denying that back-to-back video meetings can be exhausting. At Classy, we’ve blocked the company-wide calendar on Wednesday mornings to encourage a break from Zoom calls.
Classy encourages 12 weeks of paid parental leave and to ease the transition back to the workplace. We also encourage returning parents to take Fridays off.
Flexibility and Unlimited Vacation Time
In general, we foster a culture of flexible working hours to accommodate our lifestyles. If you need to drop off your kids at school in the morning, block off that time and do it.
We hire people and trust them to use their best judgment when it comes to taking vacation time. Proactively taking time for rest and recovery helps alleviate stress and the probability of burnout.
Classy believes that when you bring your whole self to work, you are more productive, engaged, and satisfied. We embrace this idea and strive to create a psychologically safe environment for all employees.
This year, a sense of community and belonging kept many of us afloat. We spend so much of our daily lives at work, and there is a huge opportunity to support one another through shared experiences.
Community and Support
As soon as we began working from home and the uncertainties around our wellbeing increased, we developed a virtual support group safe space for employees that encouraged unedited, organic (moderated) conversation. Every Thursday, everyone is invited to join this optional meeting and share thoughts on real-life topics like “Gratitude,” “Vulnerability,” and “Mental Health.”
We’ve adjusted the cadence of this event, but we plan to continue the meeting as we’ve seen the way it’s kept people feeling connected to one another and less alone.
The People Team kicked off 2021 with a company-wide virtual Wellness Challenge. We created personal scorecards to help folks become more conscious of the little things they can do every day to promote healthy habits in their daily lives. The scorecard included anything from “eating vegetables” to “giving a hug,” “crying” or “reviewing finances.” Challenging your wellness is multi-faceted and this was a great way to illustrate that there are so many ways to care for ourselves.
Employee Resource Groups
Over the past years, Classy has also been encouraging employee-led “communities” and “groups.” Communities are sanctioned, Classy-sponsored employee resource groups that bring people together based on their identities, passions, and interests. Some include Project Green (sustainability and environmental), Am-Asian (Asian-American), Pride (LGBTQ+), and Classy as a Mother (mothers). Groups are more casual associations based on interests like outdoors, surfing, or fantasy football. These are spaces that spark conversation, action, and connection outside of our professional identities.
Personal Growth (Targeted Dimensions: Intellectual, Occupational)
It’s important that all Classy employees feel supported, challenged, and seen.
Ensuring that your employees have access to resources that will help them elevate their careers and continue learning is paramount in keeping people feeling fulfilled in the work that they do.
This begins with management that focuses on developing their people, pushing them to think about their career aspirations and the steps to get there.
Actual resources matter too.
Starting week 1, new hires are given a training called “Mobilize and Empower Your Career” which is centered around learning about our career paths, core competencies, compensation, and check-ins at Classy. Classy gives all employees access to clear documentation and training on career paths for each department and worksheets that help guide folks in their own individual development plans.
Monetary Development Stipend
Classy provides $200/year for each employee to use toward anything that would help them develop their careers (training, classes, books, conferences, etc.) Employees that leverage their full balance are given incremental funds each year to encourage the continued use of this resource.
Monthly Professional and Personal Development Sessions
We consistently host speakers that engage on topics like finances, productivity, and career development. For example, we invited Nancy Pruor of Leveraged Productivity Solutions to host a session about Achieving Effective and Satisfying Work From Home. Nancy helped us work through thinking about our own personal work styles and needs and carrying that self awareness into how we plan for success while working remotely.
We have an employee-led ToastMasters chapter where folks can polish their public speaking skills.
Classy offers tenured employees a six-week sabbatical. Classy covers a portion of travel and accommodations expenses, and requires that employees spend one work week of their sabbatical volunteering with a nonprofit of their choice. This can often be a great way to find time to reflect, explore, and reset with a fresh perspective.
This year spurred more than just a heightened awareness of the fragility of our physical health. It revealed social injustices, systemically rooted issues, and environmental turmoil.
Classy’s mission to mobilize and empower the world for good and giving back is inherent to our work. Becoming a B Corp solidified that commitment. Finding meaning through work can seem natural working for a nonprofit organization, but finding opportunities for employees to engage directly with the community can help us feel the tangibility of our impact.
Employees are encouraged to take 20 hours of paid time off to volunteer and give back to the community. At Classy, we call these “Impact Hours” and we define this as meaningful time spent between employees and nonprofits. We have a #volunteering slack channel where folks share about opportunities with nonprofits and organize volunteers.Nes hires are encouraged to use some of these hours within their first month as a team building opportunity.
Every year we host a Volunteer Week in which employees can either volunteer with a nonprofit of their choice or join an Idea Jam with a nonprofit partner of ours. Each Idea Jam group works all day to provide a solution to an important business challenge the nonprofit is experiencing.
Calculating Our Carbon Footprint
Led by Project Green, Classy employees are encouraged to measure their individual carbon footprint and contribute to the company-wide initiative or reducing our corporate footprint. This is part of our larger corporate sustainability strategy and work.
Balance and boundaries can be difficult to achieve and maintain when the lines between passion and work blur. When we love what we do and believe in our mission, finding this balance can become more challenging. Take it from me, as I work on finishing this blog post late at night.
There are countless ways to take care of your people in the workplace so they can thrive.
We hope this is a helpful view into Classy’s take on wellness at work. Creating a space that fosters a culture of wellness is an ongoing journey and we continually seek out feedback from our employees to ensure we’re keeping their needs in mind.
It’s no easy feat to address all levels and facets of employee wellbeing, but investing in our people is a non-negotiable. People are at the heart of what keeps our business going.