Join us for our installment of the Pacesetters Doing Business series featuring Boston Planning and Development Agency on December 7, 2023.
3:00pm - 4:00pm
Jenny Holaday will share her journey into leadership as President of Encore Boston Harbor and first woman to run a casino in Massachusetts.
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Encore Boston Harbor
Step into Winter Wonderland at our BIMA Holiday Gala. Gather your digital media and marketing peers for a night of networking and entertainment.
6:30pm - 9:30pm
Designed for mid-level managers and supervisors, this new certificate program addresses workplace well-being through unique, innovative, and actionable methods.
Join our Transformational DEI Certificate! Our comprehensive learning & development offerings are designed to connect and grow strong leaders who lead both inside and out of the office.
Our Women’s Leadership Program enables you to take your leadership to the next level by arming you with the most in-demand leadership toolkit.
Our Boston’s Future Leaders (BFL) program provides emerging leaders with a socially conscious and civically engaged leadership toolkit, as well as the opportunity to apply their knowledge through experiential assignments.
City Awake empowers young professionals in a variety of ways that encourages these rising leaders to stay invested in the region’s future success.
We are developing an ecosystem of corporations and partners with the influence and buying power to transform economic inclusion for minority business enterprises (MBEs).
The Fierce Urgency of Now Festival brings Boston’s diverse young professionals together with business leaders, organizations and their peers to build connection, advance careers and ignite positive change.
BIMA (the Boston Interactive Media Association) serves a vibrant community of like-minded professionals from agencies, brands, publishers, and ad-tech companies with business interests in the New England market.
For nearly 30 years, the Chamber’s Women’s Network has connected female professionals of all background and career levels. Today, our Women’s Network is the largest in New England, strengthening the professional networks of women each year.
The Massachusetts Apprentice Network convenes employers, training providers, and talent sources interested in developing and implementing apprenticeship programs in occupations across industries and statewide in fields such as tech, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, and more.
We support small business through public policy initiatives, events designed to connect small businesses in Greater Boston to their peers and established business leaders, professional development offerings, and free small business advising.
Explore our mission and values to better understand how we are leading the business community forward.
Our member directory is your resource to discover, connect, and engage with Boston’s businesses from every industry and sector.
40%: that’s the percentage of employees who would leave their job for another that offered better mental health benefits, according to a recent survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. It’s no surprise mental health is a top priority on employees’ minds. The pandemic has only amplified mental health challenges for so many people who are caregivers navigating hybrid work, having fewer in-person/social interactions than they once may have, are navigating soaring cost of living and more. As Donna Bonaparte, Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer at Babson College said, “the socialization of human beings is critical to mental health, 2020 amplified this. In the process of ‘survive, revive and thrive’ we are still in survival mode where people need social interactions. We are examining how we can provide this remotely.”
In partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce launched the Wellness Reimagined series to help facilitate conversations about what employers can do to support employee well-being. This is a critical component for employee productivity and one that has seen a decline in recent years. The goal is to highlight the best practices from employers taking a holistic approach— balancing empathy and prioritizing employee wellness while maintaining business performance. The Chamber also created a corresponding certificate program for mid-level managers and supervisors on employee well-being, launching later this month.
The truth is that less than half of employees think that their employer cares for their well-being. A key to addressing this issue is the involvement of leadership. Here are the key takeaways from the inaugural “Wellness Reimagined” Employer Forum event:
“Mental health strategy is a retention strategy,” said Michelle Fatsi, Vice President – National and Major Accounts at Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Massachusetts. For BCBS, who is both an employer and an insurer, mental health is a core strategy as they strive to be the best for their members. At the same time, they work to educate their own employees about the available mental health resources and eliminate any stigma for people who seek those services.
Archana Mansagra, Director of Client Strategy and Solutions at OneDigital added that engagement, and overall happiness at work, is often based on the work someone is doing being aligned to their sense of purpose. Making sure folks are trained appropriately for their career growth and incorporating their family in wellness programs and events is critical. Employees are more apt to work hard and be productive when they believe in the company mission and their work is aligned with other areas of their life. “Aligning is the best way to get the most out of employees,” she emphasized.
“The first line of defense is managers, and they are not always equipped to offer these resources,” said Archana Mansagra. For employees who don’t know how to access company benefits, they often first turn to their managers. The same is true when they have personal issues that they want to discuss at work. Managers are sometimes navigating offering makeshift therapy and HR services. In reality, managers should be the ones to listen to nuggets, pick up on information, and direct their employees to the appropriate resources. This builds trust and connection between the employee and the manager, and ultimately, with the organization as a whole.
Michelle Fatsi added her perspective as someone in the role of a manager, describing how she plays the “ground game.” This means asking employees how they are, beyond work. She builds a sense of community by allowing time at the start or conclusion of meetings just to socialize with one another. During this time, managers can listen for cues, and understand what help employees may need, even if they are not saying it directly. This is hugely important to the individual employees’ success, and that of the company.
Donna Bonaparte explained how she meets with her direct reports at Babson once a week. She makes it a point not only to ask how the employee is doing, but also how their family is doing. She knows what is going on in employees’ lives—beyond the workplace—so that she can support the employee fully. She embraces what she calls a ROW or a results-only workplace. As long as the results are there, so too is flexibility for employees.
“Well-being is a house of cards if you aren’t looking at your mental health,” said Lindsey Messmore, Global Wellness and Policy Manager at Wayfair. She was left to navigate finding the resources she needed without help or empathy from an employer when a family member had a terminal illness. This led her into a role at her new employer, Wayfair, where she could ensure others never had to experience this same trauma. Wayfair recently launched a wellness champion program. And, while there is no “one size fits all” solution to wellness, especially for a company operating in eight countries with different types of employees (sales, service, warehouse, etc.) working in both physical and hybrid environments, employers should be thinking of tactics to engage employees and their family members. While getting to all employees can be tough, employees want to hear from other employees, so employers should look to make those connections as well.
Delve into the data. This was echoed by a few of the panelists. Archana Mansagra encouraged employers to look at the data to determine if the programs in place for wellness are being utilized, or if they are dated. Additionally, this is something that can also be examined anecdotally. Donna Bonaparete noted how she gets at this by asking employees at Babson “what am I missing?” when building a culture of care for employee wellness.
Lindsey Messmore added that when looking at health programs, “medical claims data can make the case for investment.” From therapy to medication, coaching and more, understanding utilization among the staff will inform what resources are needed.
“Create a space where people are honest enough to share shortcomings in the organization,” said Archana Mansagra. In some cases, this may be a survey and in others it may be creating affinity groups or ERGs. She urged employees to work in places they can be honest, because “if you can’t be honest about how you are at work, is that where you want to work?”
Donna Bonaparete shared that there are 11 affinity groups at Babson, one of which is focused on employees providing elder care. These groups focus on issues that, as she said, “have a significant impact on the ability to be an employee.” She shared that the largest one is “parent connection,” and she lets this group tell her what they need, whether that is flex hours or different benefits. She lets them support themselves in this group so that in turn the organization can support them.
At the end of the day, leadership in most organizations serves as the role model, and wellness is no exception. How leaders take care of themselves, how they establish boundaries, and how flexible and transparent they are matters. Sure, it’s nice to have Summer Fridays, for example, but if no one feels like they can leave early, then what good is it? For Blue Cross Blue Shield, managers might make their calendars public to their teams so they can see their managers taking downtime and prioritizing themselves. At Wayfair, a company-wide wellness commitment was put in place to encourage employees to communicate their needs, establish boundaries, and be transparent. Need an hour off for therapy? No problem.
We are already in a reimagined place in terms of workplace flexibility and what is possible, and we hope wellness continues to be iterated and prioritized to an area of conversation amongst leadership at organizations in the same vein as hybrid work policies. For employers looking to elevate the wellness of their employees, we encourage you to follow the events in this series.
May 16, 20234:30pm – 8:00pmOmni Boston Hotel at the Seaport