Benefits & Work-Life Focus
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Seal of Distinction Winners Show Off Best Practices

By Jim Fickess, WorldatWork   |  April 2016

A wide variety of organizations earned WorldatWork's 2016 Work-Life Seal of Distinction. Be they nonprofits or corporations, privately held or publicly traded, mom-and-pop shops or industry-leading megaliths, the winners share 3 important elements for a successful total rewards program:

  1. Senior leadership buy-in
  2. A wide range of programs to meet employees' varied work-life needs
  3. Multiplatform communications about the programs to employees.
Here is a link to the Seal of Distinction companies that are getting those 3 elements right.

Four of the 2016 Seal of Distinction winners shared some of their experiences in those 3 key areas, including describing one of their unique work-life programs.

University of California, Davis

A four-time Seal of Distinction winner, the University of California, Davis, offers work-life programs for its more than 35,000 students and about 24,000 employees.

Senior leadership. A pioneering UC Davis work-life program got its start from when the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Child and Family Care was formed decades ago. "When I arrived on campus in 1990, the committee had already been in existence for a while," said Barbara Ashby, manager of work-life and wellness. "It was initially focused on child care, but broadened the name and took on initiatives such as our award-winning breastfeeding support program." Committee membership represents the broad spectrum of campus constituencies, such as students and academic and professional staff, Ashby said.

Programs. UC Davis has literally mapped out a strategy to combat a common problem, the shortage of sleep. The Nap Map program, an initiative out of Student Health and Wellness, identifies rooms around campus that are designed to accommodate sleep.

"Most people don't get enough sleep, especially in an academic environment," Ashby said. "Nap Map emphasizes the importance of sleep and well-being,that you need to take care of yourself."

The program, which is offered to both staff and students, not only supplies a map to the sleep-friendly rooms, but also publishes articles in newsletters about the latest research in the importance of sleep and rest, Ashby said. "It is a very tangible way to put research and theory into practice," she said, pointing out that is one of the missions of UC-Davis as a land-grant university.

Communications. UC Davis has had a dedicated Worklife and Wellness website for more than a decade. The staff webmaster keeps the site very customer-service focused, Ashby said. "We want people to be able to come in and find what they are looking for," she said. "We are also seeking the easiest way to access information."

Ashby's staff also includes a communications specialist. "So much of what we do is outreach," she said. "If people don't know about our programs, they can't benefit from them."

Bright Horizons Solutions Inc.

The Watertown, Mass.-based child-care provider, which has about 25,000 employees at more than 900 sites, has earned a Seal of Distinction each of the past five years.

Senior leadership. Top executives lead through the HEART Principles — Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect and Teamwork — which are the foundation of Bright Horizon's culture, according to the company.  "Being recognized as a great place to work underscores our belief that a company's most valuable asset is its employees," CEO David Lissy said. "We know that our ability to do great things as an organization rests on the great people in our Bright Horizons family who are committed to our work and our mission every day."

Programs. Bright Horizons not only reimburses a percentage of approved coursework, but also provides a program to help employees navigate the higher-education system. College Coach guides employees and their families through educational challenges, such as: determining the best way to pay for college; selecting the best college savings plan; navigating the complex college admissions process; helping younger children stay academically motivated; and developing strategies for managing existing education debt.

Communications. Bright Horizons uses a variety of vehicles to communicate with a largely decentralized workforce, emphasizing personalized communications that includes on-site visits by senior leaders.

The HEART principles are introduced by the Bright Horizons Culture Guide, which is given to every new employee.

Texas Instruments

The global semiconductor manufacturing and design company has also won five Seals of Distinction in as many years. Based in Dallas, it employs about 31,000 workers.

Senior leadership. Open Exchanges — or roundtables with leaders — are a fixture in TI culture, according to a company official. From sessions with TI's Chief Executive Officer Rich Templeton and other executive leadership to sessions with leaders of TI's diversity initiatives, employees have ongoing exposure to senior leaders where the floor is open to discuss any topic. While TI's business priorities are usually a primary focus, employee experience and work-life effectiveness are often-discussed topics. Leaders also participate in a wide range of well-being initiatives with employees. For example, this year, TI's Chief Information Officer Ellen Barker led the company's annual "Go Red for Women" heart-healthy activities by serving as an executive sponsor for the Dallas-area American Heart Association luncheon, engaging TI's Women's Initiative and leading an on-campus walk for heart health.

Programs. Critics who say work-life programs' ROI is hard to quantify haven't met Texas Instruments where "data and analysis are in our blood," said a company official. TI uses data-driven metrics to determine and promote programming. Statistics on participation and levels of engagement have recently driven positive changes to several programs. For example, this year the focus of weight-management support programming was shifted to localized, organization-specific initiatives driven by local leadership teams, rather than broader-based, one-size-fits-all programs that have proved to be less engaging. When establishing metrics for work-life activities, think about outcomes first — or what does success look like — and then translate those outcomes to activity measurements, such as how many people enrolled in and completed the program, TI work-life officials recommend. They also advise using post-program surveys that give insight to the quality of the participant experience, such as how many employees say they would participate in an activity again. Each of these metrics drive toward creating programs that are more engaging for specific audiences. One of those areas has been in family programs, where TI has increased the number of parenting support groups, paid maternity leave and paid adoption leave for primary caregivers, reimbursements for adoption expenses, and child-care support for ongoing and backup child care.

Communications. The primary way TI communicates work-life information to employees is through what it describes as a "robust" set of intranet-based employee news channels called Infolink. Infolink allows employees and their partners on-demand access to well-being and work-life support programs, special-interest groups such as TI's parenting group, and special-event or new-program promotions through the company's weekly companywide newsletter. To make sure employees throughout the company have access to this information, including employees in manufacturing where computer access is limited, TI complements these tactics with digital signage walls and monitors, targeted emails, downloadable calendar appointments for automatic reminders, and display boards for broad awareness.

YMCA of Greater Rochester

Covering western New York, the YMCA of Greater Rochester has 17 locations and about 250 full-time and 3,000 part-time employees. It is a two-time Seal of Distinction winner.

Senior leadership. "One of the first things the CEO tells the management team is to get out to every location," said Fernan R. Cepero, chief human relations officer. "We meet with the staff as often as we can. Our farthest branch is four hours away in the Adirondacks but we regularly make the trip there to meet with staff."

Programs. While many organizations are beginning to emphasize employee financial wellness, the Rochester Y has been putting money where its program is for years — funding employee retirement at 12% of base salary for both full-time and part-time staff. The retirement funding plan is part of the benefits package at all YMCAs, with local chapters deciding the funding range from 8-12%, according to Cepero.

He attributes much of the Rochester Y's low attrition rate for part-time employees (11-15% annually) to the retirement funding. "Once they are vested and see that (retirement funding) in their pay statement, they want to stay," Cepero said. "Most of our attrition is natural, due to things like people moving."

Communications. The Rochester Y offers a mentoring program to complement its retirement funding. Employees nearing the end of their careers meet with younger colleagues to help get them thinking about retirement. The basic message — "I wish I would have started planning for retirement earlier" — comes across very effectively from a coworker, Cepero said.

Communications are crucial to outreach, with regularly scheduled staff meetings being replicated every other month at all branches, along with a website and internal email communications.

"We want to make sure they are on the pulse of the organization," Cepero said. "We don't want them feeling like they are out of sight, out of mind."

About the Author

Jim Fickess writes and edits for WorldatWork.


Read the April edition of Benefits & Work-Life Focus.

Contents © 2016 WorldatWork. No part of this article may be reproduced, excerpted or redistributed in any form without express written permission from WorldatWork.

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