You Are Not The Rock: The Importance of Investing in Your Personal Well-Being

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Built In Boston met with 10 local tech professionals to learn how they encourage healthy boundaries inside and outside of the office.

Written by Jeff Kirshman
Published on May. 26, 2022
You Are Not The Rock: The Importance of Investing in Your Personal Well-Being
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In 2015, the bodybuilding magazine Muscle & Fitness published an article titled, “Smell What The Rock Is Cooking” — a detailed exploration into what WWE superstar, Hollywood A-lister and potential presidential candidate Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson eats on a daily basis. 

The contents of Johnson’s diet, by any reasonable standard, were staggering. Every day, the professionally large human consumed roughly 10 pounds of food across seven meals, including 2.3 pounds of cod and 12 eggs (plus steak, chicken, two potatoes, an assortment of vegetables and some rice).  

“DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON YOU JUST HAD A WHOLE THING OF COD A MINUTE AGO,” one blogger noted of the Baywatch actor’s second breakfast of the day. “HOW MANY CODS HAVE YOU GOT STUFFED UP IN YOUR FRIDGE MY MAN??” 

The author’s incredulity was reminiscent of the bewilderment many of us feel when reading about the daily routines of CEOs. These diaries can induce awe and envy. Aspirational as they are — their workloads providing a blueprint for success — they invite an opening for comparison that elicits an unavoidable sense of inadequacy.

Wake up before dawn to run a marathon? Play nine holes before driving the kids to school? Answer emails and hop on investor calls fueled by nothing but a protein shake? 

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, the old refrain goes. If only we used our time more effectively, we too would be in a position to run a Fortune 500 company.

The problem with this approach is that it frames the need for rest as a personal failing. Just as The Rock’s mind-boggling caloric intake far exceeds the recommended diet of a mere mortal, it’s foolish to sacrifice our mental health in pursuit of unrealistic — and unadvisable — goals. 

No one should eat that much cod, and no one should be expected to cut corners when it comes to mental health. That’s why, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Built In Boston met with 10 local tech professionals to get a whiff of how they’re underscoring this point by investing in the health and well-being of their employees. 

Check out the perks and benefits they offer to encourage healthy boundaries inside and outside of the office. 

 

Stephanie Nebes
Benefits and Payroll Specialist • Catalant Technologies

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to wellness. At Catalant Technologies, we offer many diverse educational sessions and programs to give both our employees and their families access to the resources they need. We offer monetary reimbursements for wellness spending and regular educational webinars on different areas under the wellness umbrella. We have also adopted a flexible working environment, with both fully remote and hybrid options and flexible hours within our teams. Our unlimited vacation policy encourages employees to take time to take care of themselves and their families and hit the recharge button.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to wellness.”

 

How has your company adapted your benefits to support the needs of your employees?

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we purchased annual memberships to Calm for all of our permanent full-time employees. The employees can share their login credentials with up to five other members, which is a really great way for our employees and their families to press pause on the chaos of their lives and take a moment to meditate, listen to a podcast, do some stretching or improve their sleeping habits. We also adopted a quarterly wellness day to allow our employees to take the day off to mentally recharge without having to worry about catching up when they come back. The whole company takes it off, and we all come back refreshed. We also added quarterly stipends for wellness costs, home office expenses and internet. Finally, we are working toward creating a wellness program called CATAWELL that truly encompasses all of the components of wellness.

 

Catalant provides global enterprises with software solutions to access business expertise on demand.

 

 

Workhuman team members with rainbow pride decorations
Workhuman

 

Caoimhe Dunbar
Senior ESG/DEI Manager • Workhuman

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

At Workhuman, the well-being of our employees is central to everything we do. We are proud of our holistic Workhuman Wellness program, which includes regular on-site and virtual fitness classes, as well as webinars teaching pilates, yoga, HIIT, reflection and meditation.

We strive to help our employees feel connected to each other, whether that’s fun team events or through our employee resource groups. We also use the Workhuman cloud, a secure SaaS platform that provides socially enabled employee recognition solutions, to help employees celebrate, connect with and appreciate each other.

For many of our wellness activities we work closely with our employees and leaders to crowdsource ideas and feedback to ensure we provide what our people need. We also offer global healthcare coverage from day one of employment. These programs provide our employees access to a wealth of well-being resources, spanning a wide range of topics and an employee assistance program that’s accessible 24/7.

From the start of the pandemic, we recognized that our employees needed more care and attention.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

In the past two years, humanity has seen a shift like no other. Although this brought about many challenges, there has also been a positive outcome: an increased focus on well-being across the organization. From the start of the pandemic, we recognized that our employees needed more care and attention.

First, we moved our onsite fitness classes and facilitated webinars focused on mental health to a virtual environment. This allowed our employees to maintain a routine from home and take time out of their day to focus on their well-being. To make our team feel more connected, we created a full schedule of virtual events encouraging people to get together, learn about each other and have some fun as we navigated the stormy waters of the pandemic. 

We also offer employees the option to expense the cost of a mental health or fitness app of their choosing up to $100 per year. We have a wide variety of people at Workhuman, all of whom have different priorities and preferences, so we felt providing the full power of choice was the right direction.

 

Workhuman is a SaaS company designed to provide customers with a platform for improving company culture.

 

 

RapDev team members eating lunch together in the office
RapDev

 

Ashley Karpel
Operations Manager • RapDev

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

RapDev understands the relationship between physical health and mental health. Employees who join RapDev have the option to enroll in a Citi Bike membership and receive a company subsidy to a fitness studio of their choice. More recently, the team local to Boston has participated in group classes together after work, including Bar Method and Barry’s Bootcamp. We also just started a RapDev weekly running club, where team members can meet along different routes around Boston. Our goal is to hit 1,000 miles by the end of the summer.

We feel equally passionate about investing in our employees’ mental health, and that means a true focus on work-life balance. Not only do we offer unlimited PTO, but at least one week off per quarter is almost enforced. We want to ensure that we reward our employees for their great work with ample time spent traveling and being with family and friends. We also adopted a program in which Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day are half-days to allow employees to get a jumpstart on weekend plans.

We understand the relationship between physical health and mental health.

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

At RapDev, we are extremely sensitive to both the mental and physical toll the pandemic has had on society. We found that many employees feel more productive and, more importantly, comfortable working from home. This flexibility has become part of our culture. We cover for each other whenever needed, and everyone knows someone always has their back.

For team members who are local to Boston and choose to come into the office, we cater lunches daily, and we try to all eat together whenever we can, signing off from work for a short while to catch up on what we all have going on. On nice days, afternoon walks are encouraged, and we even have impromptu RapDev picnics near our office on the Boston Common.

As our team continues to grow, bonding activities become more important. We host quarterly “homecoming” weeks for all of our remote employees to join us. We plan special holiday and summer parties to celebrate all of our successes and have an all-around great time together. We work hard and play hard.

 

RapDev is an information technology company dedicated to helping organizations improve their development and engineering processes using infrastructure as code. 

 

 

Nexthink group photo
Nexthink

 

Meg Donovan
Chief People Officer • Nexthink

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

Well-being starts with offering employees competitive benefits so they are financially supported and have access to quality care and resources. We cover 100 percent health care for our U.S. team, unlimited time off and paid volunteering days.  

We recently partnered with Thrive Global, the behavior-change technology company founded by Arianna Huffington, to help reduce stress and burnout. Well-being has to be both top-down and bottom-up, so we invited a group of influential members of our leadership team to be trained as evangelists and role models for well-being practices.   

We worked with The Energy Project to host workshops on how to strategically manage personal energy and have also offered workshops on burnout.  Some of our very own team members are wellness coaches and have organized internal mindfulness programs that are open to the entire company so they can work well-being practices into their day-to-day.

Well-being has to be both top-down and bottom-up.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

Supporting employees’ well-being is about understanding where they’re at. We regularly pulse-check to gauge how employees are feeling. We encourage our team to use our unlimited PTO and have a flexible work policy. We are an international team, and we recognize that people all over the world are dealing with a lot. The flexibility we offer is our way of making sure work doesn’t add to existing stressors. 

One of the things I like most about this team is that we always support each other. Nexthinkers came together to raise more than $10,000 that was matched by the company to support Ukraine. We also make an effort to champion the everyday actions and attitudes that make Nexthink a great place to work. We invested in the employee recognition tool Bonusly to give kudos to team members that they can cash in for prizes. We want to celebrate employees’ contributions and make sure they know they’re appreciated. This is also something our leaders keep in mind as they support their teams, and we recently implemented a leadership coaching program to help them reach their full potential as change-makers in the company.

 

Nexthink helps IT teams around the world modernize the digital employee experience.

 

 

Stack Overflow team collage
Stack Overflow

 

Veronica Yarbray
Senior Global People Partner • Stack Overflow

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

Even before the pandemic, Stack Overflow was a remote-friendly team. Our remote culture emphasizes online communication and flexibility. We also focus and invest in well-being resources. In the U.S., that means that Stack pays 100 percent of most premiums. We also provide employees monthly fitness reimbursements and retirement resources. If you’re not feeling well, either mentally or physically, we encourage you to take time to heal. We have an unlimited sick time policy and long-term sick leave programs.

Bravely is an online resource where employees can connect one-on-one with professional coaches 24/7 to help navigate stress and change, prepare for an upcoming review or presentation, work through a conflict, and find empowerment in the work that they do. We also offer employees  membership to the Calm app, as well as assistance programs that help them run their lives a little more smoothly. Whether someone has a simple question or a complex concern, the service is there to provide practical information and advice covering a range of topics, including caregiving, legal and financial questions, fitness management, working smarter, and counseling.

Our remote culture emphasizes online communication and flexibility.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

Using our core values of being flexible and inclusive, we implemented a caregiver accommodation policy during the pandemic to offer additional flexibility to employees. The work plan included part-time options, flexible full-time hours, and a four-day compressed week.

Additionally, our affinity groups have expanded. They center around identities such as BIPOC employees, parents and caregivers, LGBTQ+ individuals, and neurodiverse people, and serve as a space for support and connection between people.

A program that existed before the pandemic, and was especially beneficial during the pandemic, is Stack Roulette. It allows employees to get to know Stackers who they may not meet otherwise, fostering camaraderie, collaboration and community. For 30 minutes, once a month, you will serendipitously meet two other people for a virtual coffee, lunch or just to chat. 

We now also offer online resources from Ginger and Talkspace. They offer comprehensive and flexible mental health treatment options such as behavioral health coaching, therapy and self-care resources, all from the privacy of a smartphone and via video, messaging or phone.

 

Stack Overflow allows individuals and teams to access the technical knowledge they need to build exceptional products.

 

 

Rhonda Graves
Director, People Operations • Numerated

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

One of our core values at Numerated is striving to be the best, and we believe that’s only possible if our employees feel supported and able to bring their best selves to work. We aim to provide that support in a few key areas.

First and foremost we’re a remote-first company, so we’ve spent a lot of time building an environment where employees feel energized, engaged, and — most importantly — able to foster a sense of belonging. Part of this work is accomplished through our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging team.

We also invest in our employees’ well-being through our benefits program and by encouraging employees to prioritize work-life balance. From including mental health in healthcare benefits to providing unlimited PTO, we trust our employees to always do what’s best for the organization, themselves and their families.

Of course, we’re also invested in ensuring employees have what they need for an effective at-home office setup, providing access to the best technology and putting an emphasis on communication and continuous feedback.

We trust our employees to always do what’s best for the organization, themselves and their families.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

The past two years have been difficult for everyone, and we’ve paid extra attention to our employees’ well-being throughout. That started during the early days of 2020, when we were one of the first companies in Boston to close our doors to keep our employees safe and help flatten the curve of that initial spike. Making such a dramatic change on such short notice required the kind of innovation and nimbleness that Numerated is known for.

We’ve been determined to work just as hard to make sure employees have felt supported along the way. Part of that is how we’ve transitioned our benefits over the past year to improve our overall health insurance coverage and taking wellness a step further with programs that encourage employees to stay active and healthy.

We’re also working to solve the unlimited PTO problem — we don’t just want our employees to have unlimited PTO; we want them to take advantage of it, too. From the top down, we encourage Numerators to prioritize work-life balance and have even added extra company holidays to our calendar to ensure our teams are getting time for rest and relaxation.

 

Numerated is a digital lending and sales platform for banks.

 

 

A dog looking at a computer monitor
Cogo Labs

 

Katie Talamelli
People & Culture Manager, Strategy & Operations • Cogo Labs

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

Cogo Labs doesn’t do half investments. Whether it’s how we operate as an incubation machine or how we treat our people, we define our targets and fully commit to our goals. When it comes to employee well-being, we take the steps necessary to demonstrate care and commitment to our people so they can worry less and focus on what they do best.

Recently, we improved our already-comprehensive medical plans to include zero-cost mental health and chiropractic visits. We offer generous monthly stipends toward Cogo’s group pet insurance plan and a separate allocation employees can apply to life expenses such as student loans, groceries and more. 

An employee favorite is our annual wellness week. Each year, we plan and host events that empower employees to get involved and prioritize self-care. We have hosted in-office flu shots, massages, countless wellness seminars, sun-damage screenings, fitness classes and game nights. Our ERGs also plan events throughout the year that help employees unwind and learn new skills like creating floral arrangements and making homemade pasta.

Empathy has been the thread that keeps our team feeling focused and supported.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

Cogo’s ability to be agile in uncertainty has been a huge asset in determining the best ways to care for our people through a global pandemic. Especially in the past few years, empathy has been the thread that keeps our team feeling focused and supported.

We have adapted many of our standard offerings and policies to be compatible with distributed teams. Managers across all functions have been intentional in prioritizing employee well-being and connection through one-on-ones and team events. Our small teams are really conducive to not only collaborating in a business sense, but also ensuring that our people are connected and cared for during difficult times. 

As situations have remained fluid throughout the pandemic, we have standardized events and meetings to be inclusive of those who work remotely and those who may have different needs when it comes to learning and working. We enhanced our benefits and perks to provide greater accessibility to mental health services and empower our employees to take time to unplug and combat burnout. At the end of the day, our people are our greatest asset. With that in mind, we are always seeking out new ways to enhance their experience.

 

Cogo Labs is a startup accelerator that seeks to create companies out of great ideas and innovative tools.

 

 

Mainstay team video call
Mainstay

 

Adrienne Barnard
SVP of People Operations & Experience • Mainstay

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

One of the major changes we’ve made in the past eight months is adding mental health days and a summer of rest and recovery to our schedule. Mainstay offers one mental health day in Q1, Q2 and Q4; four “Summer Fridays;” and a mandate to take at least three days off over the summer. These days off are all mutual time off, meaning the whole company is closed. This way, you don’t come back to a full inbox.

We also speak openly about mental health, and managers are encouraged to check in on mental health during one-on-ones; one of our templates has a scale you can use to rate how you’re feeling. 

Lastly, we know that every employee wants to invest in their well-being differently, so we offer a stipend for employees to use on what makes sense to them.

We know that every employee wants to invest in their well-being differently.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

We continue to work with our health insurance provider to ensure that mental health services are covered. We also switched to a high deductible health plan so that our employees can utilize a health savings account that we contribute to, so we are putting dollars in employees’ pockets to help make sure they can cover the cost of care and be savvy consumers.

Another big change we made was becoming a fully distributed company. We don’t have a physical office anymore, and that means employees can live and work wherever is best for them and their families. We can use the money we don’t spend on an office to intentionally plan ways to come together as a full company to learn, celebrate and plan together.

 

Mainstay is an AI-powered chatbot designed to provide resources, information and motivation to nudge students toward taking the next step in their education journey. 

 

 

Emily Larsen
Director, HR • 1upHealth

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

The word “human” appears first in 1upHealth’s core values, and that is intentional. To that end, we work to support the total well-being of our employees starting from the moment a candidate accepts an offer to work at 1upHealth. We offer a paid transition week for new team members, which allows them to take much-needed time off between jobs without the stress of going without pay or access to health benefits that you typically face between jobs. I could provide a laundry list of our benefits, from 16 weeks maternity leave to unlimited PTO to a $1,400 annual wellness stipend. But what it really comes down to is trust and support. We trust our team to do the jobs we hired them to do in a way that makes them most successful, recognizing that this may look different for different people.

The world is constantly changing around us, and our employees’ needs sometimes shift with those changes.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

The world is constantly changing around us, and our employees’ needs sometimes shift with those changes. From offering expanded reproductive benefits in the wake of new local restrictions to instituting companywide Summer Fridays to give the team time to truly disconnect, we are constantly evaluating our benefits to make sure they are best supporting the current needs of the team.

 

1upHealth facilitates access to both clinical and claims data across systems by converting it into the fast healthcare interoperability resources format.

 

 

Kristen Napolitano
Senior Benefits Administrator • Nuance

 

What are some ways your company invests in the well-being of its employees?

The physical and mental well-being of our employees and their families is our top priority and a big area of focus for Nuance. We are committed to providing our employees with comprehensive benefits programs and policies that support the health and wellness of our diverse workforce and enable us to attract and retain top talent. We conduct annual reviews of our benefits packages, which result in improvements to our offerings to ensure they are supporting our employees and their families. For example, we offer 12 weeks’ global parental leave; a phased back-to-work program for new parents; enhanced medical, dental and vision policies; and significantly enhanced family leave and bereavement policies to ensure our employees can take the time they need to care for themselves and their loved ones. We’re also proud of the investments we’ve made in recent years into a variety of key programs that are available to our employees, including access to personal financial tools and corporate wellness programs.

The physical and mental well-being of our employees and their families is our top priority.”

 

How has your company adapted its benefits to support the needs of its employees?

We’re proud of the investments we’ve made in the well-being of our employees during the challenging circumstances of the past few years. We offer employees free premium subscriptions to the Calm app, which offers numerous options for sleep, meditation, movement and resilience. Nuance also implemented Learn to Live, which is an online customizable behavioral health resource available for all of our employees’ family members aged 13 or older. From a financial well-being standpoint, we invested in programs such as SoFi Financial, providing access to refinancing resources for student loans, mortgages and personal loans. Finally, our internal team authors a quarterly newsletter that offers behavioral health resources and has dedicated the month of May to mental health awareness by providing multiple wellness sessions, tools and resources to all. 

 

Nuance offers a variety of digital services that allow businesses from healthcare providers to customer-facing brands to give users better experiences and stronger data security.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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