Overcome Stubborns

The Power Gap Among Labor Unions: Why Some Have New Strength–and Others Don’t

As the United Auto Workers set up picket lines last week outside of plants for General Motors, Ford and Stellantis (maker of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge), there was a sense of familiarity, of economic history repeating itself. In times past, the UAW would roll up to a contract negotiation with all eight cylinders of its union engine roaring. There were work stoppages, but when the Big Three controlled 80% of the market, the car companies had a lot of sales to lose in enduring a long strike, so they had some willingness to compromise.Since the 1980s, though, the UAW–not to mention the United Steelworkers and other large industrial unions–have been squeezed by the global labor arbitrage that shifted work to Asia. They’ve become fewer in number, less powerful politically and forced into waves of givebacks to keep their jobs. Most galling, for the UAW, was the adoption of a two-tiered wage system—a lower rate for new hires, vs. legacy workers. The scoresheet has not been kind to labor; its share of national income has been in a long decline, one that has accelerated in this century.This year, the wealth and power pendulum has started moving the other way. The post-pandemic reordering of the global supply chain that enriched some U.S. industries–think greedflation–has given the UAW, and a few other unions the chance to muscle up again. They’re seizing the moment to demand a share of that new wealth. This is a workforce that has done everything asked of it during the pandemic to meet the needs of corporations and their customers.Which is making labor more militant, more willing to hit the bricks for better pay and benefits. We're going to see this soon in Las Vegas, where the Culinary Workers Union, 50,000 of them, may strike the major hotels and casinos if there’s no new contract. Las Vegas has been recording record month after record month of revenues since the end of the pandemic, and the unions quite reasonably expect to get a piece of those winnings. Some corporations have acknowledged as much, with the Teamsters winning a big contract with UPS. Likewise, American Airlines just settled with its pilots on a new contract in August, providing a 46% increase in compensation, as “revenge travel” hasn’t slowed. Why wouldn’t you settle with workers if your airline is filling every seat, and facing a pilot shortage over the next decade? Pilots are United and Delta have also settled. That’s the benefit of a healthy economy,  when labor and management each have more to gain than lose.The economy can’t solve every labor issue. In Hollywood, both the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild have been on strike for months against the movie studios and the streaming companies. And in warehouses and coffeeshops nationwide, Amazon and Starbucks are fighting bitterly against determined unionization efforts.  Every labor negotiation rests on the extent of the common interests among the two parties. In the UPS negotiation, each side had too much to lose to take a strike. Shippers had already been moving their UPS business to other carriers as talks dragged on. And with drivers now earning more than $100,000 annually in some places, the urge to walk rather than deliver wasn’t strong. So UPS and the Teamsters settled and each can claim victory. This is the same Teamsters union that refused yet more givebacks with foundering Yellow Freight, and allowed the company to go under. Yellow had been in the red for years and the union could not see a way forward. With demand for truckers still high, and Yellow’s assets going on the block, there will still options for its drivers.For the auto companies, business is great but business is also changing rapidly–and that’s where the mutual interests are parting. Detroit has been able to sell every pickup truck it can build, for instance. These are the industry’s most profitable vehicles. How much of that business is worth risking? But the switch from internal combustion engines to EVs has introduced a host of new technologies that is reordering the workplace, and the unions are wary. Transmission plants get replaced by battery plants, for example, and the automakers are placing some of those plant in less union-friendly geographies in the South. The UAW has seen this movie before, when robotics came on the scene and eventually displaced a wide swath of jobs.Yet neither side is playing hardball, it seems. The unions are picketing at three selected plants–one from each automaker, a switch from the days when it would focus attention on one company.  That includes a Stellantis factory in Ohio, for instance, that makes the ever-popular Jeep. The union calls it a “standup strike.” The idea is to get the message across without crippling the entire industry. GM CEO Mary Barra, a lifelong GMer and the daughter of a GM engineer, has tried to keep the temperature low: “If you’re asking for more than the company made, I think that’s not a good position,” Barra said, but added, “I think we’re in a good position to get this done.” The gap remains wide, but that was also the case with UPS and the Teamsters.Technology is also a feature in the Hollywood strike by creatives against the studios and streamers. The actors and writers see AI technology being used to deprive them of earnings and intellectual property. Talks stalled, but there is still talk. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav tried to spread optimism, telling analysts: “We are just hopeful as a company, and I am very hopeful, that we can get that resolved. If we can get it resolved soon, then the long-term impact will be minimized.” But that optimism sounded a bit scripted, given that Warner has been willing to take a $500 million hit to earnings during the strike, and Zazlov’s lavish pay packet, $285 million over the last two years, has further impassioned workers over lavish media CEO pay.The dissonance could not be any greater in the case of Starbucks and Amazon, whose founders still exert a powerful influence on labor relations, leading to conflict. For Starbucks former CEO and chairman Howard Schultz, the battle with unions has been particularly difficult. Schultz, who grew up working class in Brooklyn, is a progressive. Starbucks pays well and has good benefits. He cares about the workforce, so he can’t understand why workers would want a union. He believes that he’s in the right position to know what they need, moreso than a union. But his view is from the top down. From that vantage point, understanding the workers’ point is view is difficult–very few business owners can do it. Henry Ford had the same stance–and his hired goons’ violent confrontation with union organizers was a turning point in UAW history.At Amazon, founder Jeff Bezos built a company by being a control freak over costs and operations and trained his senior managers that way. Unions represent a threat to that control mantra. And threatens to bring higher costs. Workers, for their part, see themselves as dehumanized labor inputs within Amazon’s system, not people. So the fight goes on, in both companies.The capital vs. labor issues this year are unique to their time–an economic situation unlike we’ve ever experienced and rapid technological developments that are rearranging traditional conflicts. The path to labor peace in the auto industry, then, may require these two old adversaries to bring more imagination and innovation to the negotiating table.  Bill Saporito is an editor at large at Inc. magazine. Previously, worked as an assistant managing editor at Time magazine and as a senior editor at Fortune.(Featured photo: United Auto Workers members walk the picket line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., on Sept. 18, 2023. AP Photo/Paul Sancya) 

BY Bill Saporito | September 19, 2023
Overcome Stubborns
By Stephen Koepp | September 19, 2023

Are You an HR Leader Who Can’t Say No? Then Maybe This Book Is for You

If setting boundaries is the right thing for your mental health, then why is it so hard to do? With all the demands on HR professionals in recent years, burnout has become a major problem. With good timing, author and playwright Kara Cutruzzula has come along with Do It (Or Don’t): A Boundary-Creating Journal, the third in her series on personal motivation. The book is rich with insights about why we hestitate to say no, how to do it gracefully, and when to know when it’s probably the best answer. In an email interview, From Day One asked her about the key lessons in her new book: Q. Why are we afraid of saying no? Is it mostly about being superstitious about missing an opportunity, or FOMO, or just not wanting to hurt people's feelings?We don’t say no to certain opportunities or people because it’s either uncomfortable, we don’t want to disappoint someone, or we think our future selves are magically less busy than our present-day selves, and a new obligation will somehow be manageable. These are valid reasons! Yet I would argue, in nearly all cases, the few minutes of feeling itchy and anxious before saying “no” are vastly preferable to giving a reluctant “yes” and then feeling resentful. It's almost always kinder to give a quick “no” than a half-hearted “yes.”Q: What are the hardest invitations to say no to?A person with a full calendar says “no” faster than a person who can fit almost anything into their schedule. Sometimes we accept invitations or opportunities because that specific time slot might be open at the moment, but we shouldn’t consider our time as “free” simply because an offer is extended. Getting clear on where you prefer to spend your time before the invitation comes your way makes it easier to deliberate what’s worth that time–or isn’t.Q. Many people in the HR profession have been suffering burnout after all they’ve endured while leading people through crisis after crisis since 2020. Do you have any advice for them about not trying to solve everyone’s problems–or how to set limits?Can you look at what is actually being asked of you, and then at what you have decided to give? We all want to achieve and, often, overachieve, and can forget that going above and beyond is not sustainable. Giving exactly what you are able to give in the moment can be the answer, even if that changes day to day or week to week. It’s kinder to yourself and the people you are trying to serve.Q. Being a good team player is highly valued in business these days, but how can workers set limits and still be regarded as a collaborative colleague?Communication is the holy grail. If you’re not going to be available one afternoon, tell someone. If your colleague’s non-urgent 8 a.m. Slack messages cast a pall over your morning, tell them–or don’t look at the messages until you’re ready to respond. Respect your own boundaries and remember that you have a choice over what you let into your day. And when you are working with a colleague, give them your full attention–the goal is to continue giving an unequivocal “yes” to wherever you are and whatever you’re working on at the moment, so that we can all do our best work together.Q. It’s easy to say yes quickly, but harder to craft a suitable no. What’s your advice about not procrastinating with an answer?Faster is kinder. Consider all the times you’ve reached out to someone with a favor or request. Getting a quick “no” might sting for a moment–then you move on. Waiting to hear back, however, ratchets up anxiety and can affect your other plans. If you know it's a “no,” say so right away. And if you're debating whether it's a “no,” here’s a hint: It probably should be.Q. Could you give us an example or two of ways to say no, but in a way that doesn't close the door on a relationship?We all have many things on our plates, and sometimes it’s fine to simply say that: I'm sorry that it’s a busy time right now so I won’t be able to join you / take advantage of this opportunity / work together on this project, but I hope you’ll keep me in mind of the future. That’s it.I also love to recommend other people, friends, and colleagues for opportunities. While you're politely declining, take one minute to think, “Do I know anyone who would love to say ‘yes’ to this?,” and then pass along their name. Share the wealth.Q. A lot of times we might say yes to an opportunity, then have regrets as the obligation approaches, but then it turns out we’re glad we did it for reasons we didn’t expect. Does this familiar sequence of emotions tell us anything about how to figure out how to make decisions?This happens so often! We dread going to an event yet meet a new and interesting person or make a business contact. Though I’d say this happens rarely. There are events and opportunities that pull us in, and those that push us away. If you have to force yourself to do something, and it goes well–fantastic! But was it really worth the days of “Should I cancel? Can I rope in someone else to go with me?” Why settle for that feeling, when we have the option to actually look forward to what’s on our calendars, instead of hoping a few items will magically disappear?Q. You describe in the book how to set boundaries by establishing the priorities you want to fence off from interference. What’s a good way to get started thinking about that?In recent months, I found myself blaming a few culprits as reasons why I wasn’t “doing what I wanted to do.” But when I looked at the boundaries I had created–or rather hadn't–around certain projects, I noticed there were zero fences or borders. My day would get chopped up into slivers by others, and it was entirely my fault. I was boundary-less. So you must start by answering the question: Where do I actually want to spend my time? Chunk off a section of your day, whether that’s 15 minutes or four hours, and actually make it a priority. Your boundaries will become a lot easier to maintain.Q. Does it help to make some commitments for yourself that you just won’t allow to be interfered with, like an appointment with a friend, therapist, or physical trainer? How does that pay dividends larger than the appointment itself?Author and playwright Kara Cutruzzula (Photo courtesy of the author)When we go to the dentist, we’re at the mercy of the dentist. Your time becomes your dentist’s time. But you can and should treat commitments to yourself with similar diligence. This isn’t about being harder on yourself. It’s the opposite: you are giving yourself the same focus and concentration as you would someone else. They’re worth it, but you’re worth it too. Q. People flake out on other people all the time, but you offer guidelines on how to “flake with grace.” Why is this OK to do, and an example of how to do it?Flaking is sometimes unavoidable, but there are ways to make it hurt less. Do it quickly, and do it with kindness. The most uncomfortable part of flaking isn’t saying, “Sorry I can’t do this after all,” but rather the billowing silence that preambles the flaking. When you know you can’t follow through, just be honest and tell the other person right away. Q. To be good at boundary-tending, one needs to respect other people’s boundaries as well. Your book offers some good advice about making the now-notorious request to “pick someone’s brain.” What should we keep in mind when asking someone for that kind of favor?Imagine a person texts you and asks if you'd like to go to a concert somewhere in a nearby state at some point in the future. They don’t explain the type of music or when or where; it's a vague, open-ended question. You wouldn’t know how to respond because you don’t have details. The same thing happens when you ask to “pick someone’s brain.” The other person doesn't have enough information to respond with a “yes” or “no,” which is why so many brain-picking requests are met with silence or long-delayed responses. So get specific! Do the work for them. What do you actually want to know? Why might they have the answer to your questions? Layer in these details in your request upfront and the person on the other end will be able to evaluate their own boundaries–and give you their own definitive yes or no.Q. How does this new book fit into your trilogy of books?Do It For Yourself is designed to help you work through a big project with reflective prompts and strategies on getting started and overcoming obstacles. Do It Today has more intensive activities like embracing percolation rather than productivity, and sharing the gifts that only you have to share. Do It (or Don't) is pinpointing a major issue: the feeling in our lives that there is too much to do and not enough time in which to do all of it. It encourages you to draw new lines around your time and energy to, ultimately, make it easier to do your most meaningful work.Q. And finally, we all need to rest. But sometimes, it’s complicated. What’s your advice about being more deliberate about this?Honestly, I’m bad at resting! I just worked for most of the weekend. But giving yourself an end date is always helpful. Maybe this is a busy period of your life and you have to accept that. Yet there is always some time on the horizon that you can look forward to–maybe it’s next quarter, or next year or, miraculously, next weekend. Build that into your schedule as downtime and be as strict with that boundary as you are with your other boundaries.Steve Koepp is From Day One’s chief content officer.(Featured image by MicrovOne/iStock by Getty Images)

Overcome Stubborns
By Stephen Koepp | September 20, 2023

From Day One Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary

Half a decade ago, the news was erupting daily in an avalanche of headlines about Corporate America. A lot of those headlines were about scandals. About mistakes and injustice. These were not just mainstream media headlines, but also major stories emerging from digital media and social media. In fact, it seemed like for the first time everyone suddenly had a voice, and many of these voices were shouting. Many people within these companies were already committed to making positive change. But corporate values issues are often complex. They are typically interwoven with other business priorities, history, or plain old inertia. “Companies were being held accountable for their behavior in new and important ways, and it seemed like there was real, and possibly permanent change happening,” recalls From Day One CEO Nick Baily. “But then what? Even once you agree on a new set of values, there’s a lot of work to do in making them real.”  This was the historical turning point the three founders of From Day One were contemplating when they launched, exactly five years ago this month, the organization’s very first event, a one-day conference of hundreds of business leaders at BRIC House in Brooklyn, a place not previously known for business conferences. From the start, it was designed to be something different.The idea was that the country needed a “forum on corporate values,” a gathering of professionals to talk about the relationship between companies and their employees and communities. In other words, their stakeholders, rather than just their stockholders. The founders–Baily, Erin Sauter, and me–felt certain that we didn’t know the answer to these pivotal questions, but we felt equally certain that there were many people with inspiring, practical insight on these topics, and that bringing them together into the same room would be a positive first step.The first event was a hit. Speakers from companies including IBM, NBCUniversal and Condé Nast offered fresh ideas on “building a more purposeful team” and “setting your values and following them.” Sponsors ranged from AT&T to Con Edison to Eileen Fisher. Attendees, for their part, asked: What will you be doing for an encore?The three founders decided to bring the Brooklyn-bred idea to Chicago, Boston, and beyond. Five years later, From Day One has hosted 45 one-day conferences from Seattle to Miami. The pandemic produced an existential moment of doubt for the company, but necessity proved inspirational. From Day One has hosted more than 60 virtual conferences and 220 webinars. All told, more than 72,000 professionals in HR and related fields have attended From Day One’s events. This year, Inc. magazine recognized From Day One as one of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies. The audience at a From Day One conference in Atlanta; featured photo: a panel onstage in Seattle (Photos by From Day One)Since the company has taken a journalistic approach to its conversations, it has never lacked for topics. History-making events of the past five years provided fuel for conversations that From Day One’s founders never could have expected. To start with, the pandemic brought the remote-work revolution. As Harvard professor Tsedal Neeley told our virtual audience: “I am 100% convinced that, if we do this hybrid right and with courage, and we set our policies based on need and not fear, we’re preparing for the digital revolution that’s right around the corner.” She was prophetic about the challenge of getting it right.The murder of George Floyd inspired a push for racial justice in Corporate America that would prove to be fitful, but the conversation was groundbreaking. “All of a sudden, I was talking about this, and our employees’ eyes were opened. We’ve never really talked openly about racism before at work,” Hoai Scott of NBCUniversal told our audience in Los Angeles. As the pandemic eased, the pent-up demand for more rewarding and meaningful work triggered the Great Resignation that sent companies into a frantic search for talent, which has only somewhat eased. “Comparing where we are now to where we were pre-Covid, I think the employee is going to retain a lot of power,” AT&T executive Ben Jackson told our Dallas audience last year. In turn, the need to retain workers inspired a major push among companies for better learning-and-development programs. “Our vision is–and it’s very lofty–we want to redefine what education means in this country, full stop,” Walmart’s head of L&D said in a From Day One fireside chat.What may be the most consequential development of From Day One’s short life is a debate about not only the future of work, but the meaning of work in our lives. To be sure, our colleagues at Harvard Business Review, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, have been at this awhile. But recent years have turned this philosophical question into a competitive news beat for business reporters and thinkers like Anne Helen Petersen, who has spoken to From Day One’s audience about both of her recent work-focused books. She was early in raising the prospect that a flexible approach to work arrangements “could actually help us decenter work, just slightly, from its place of prominence in our world.”To offer such a vigorous schedule of events to talk about these issues, From Day One now has a team of 18 full- and part-time employees who’ve developed diverse areas of expertise in finding inspiring speakers, developing an engaged audience, staging well-run events, and helping sponsors grow their businesses.What’s next? From Day One is planning a rich assortment of live and virtual events for the rest of 2023 and all through 2024, including a conference next week in our neighbor borough of Manhattan. We hope you’ll join us for the next chapters of our story.Steve Koepp is From Day One’s chief content officer. 


The From Day One Newsletter is a monthly roundup of articles, features, and editorials on innovative ways for companies to forge stronger relationships with their employees, customers, and communities.

Overcome Stubborns
By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza | September 19, 2023

How HR Leaders Can Use Data and Insights to Influence the C-Suite

When it comes to people analytics, HR leaders know they need to get up to speed. According to an Oracle survey from 2021, less than 30% of HR professionals say they’re good or very good at making positive changes using people data. Yet HR is now a part of the C-suite in many organizations, and in most, the department officially has the attention of the executives and the boardroom.“I think CEOs intuitively know that you need to have somebody in the room who is focused on people,” said Courtney White, an HR leader at chemical company BASF. “At the same time, there has to be an appreciation for that intelligence in the room.”During From Day One’s August virtual conference on the changing profile of HR leaders, I moderated a discussion among four panelists titled “How HR Leaders Can Use Data and Insights to Influence the C-Suite.” The group agreed on this: HR has to learn to speak the C-suite’s language. That’s things like P&Ls, forecasts, budgets, skills, and efficiency. HR must learn the lingua franca of business.Given its newly expanded role in enterprise, HR is in a better position to do this now than in recent memory. Isobel Lincoln, the SVP of HR for the luxury retail and office developer Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, likes to invest time in learning other team’s goals. For example, the sales targets of the business development team. “HR can take a step back and look at things holistically and connect across different functions,” she said. White warned of HR’s tendency to focus on people to the neglect of business strategy. “We’ve got to balance some of the emotional intelligence with business intelligence too, because for most HR organizations, they’re non-revenue-generating.” But, he said, HR can learn to pitch the department as an investment, because it does generate a return.How? Rebecca Warren, the director of success for HR tech platform Eightfold, said do the math. If you don’t have the right numbers people on staff in the HR department—people analytics is still an emerging field—ask finance to help. “We can’t just show up at the table and say ‘I want to spend $500,000 on this tool because it’s going to do X.’ We don’t have anything to show, we don’t have a story. We’re not solving a problem,” she explained. The speakers, clockwise from upper left: moderator Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza, Josh Merrill of Confirm, Rebecca Warren of Eightfold, Isobel LIncoln of URW, and Courtney White of BASF (Image by From Day One)For tools, processes, or programs you want to introduce, present them in terms of things like money or time saved, people hired, or even headaches removed. If hiring managers complain that candidates don’t move through the interview process quickly enough, pitch a new scheduling tool along with numbers predicting the results. Warren’s example was this: “Let’s just say we can shave off five days from that interview process, or even three. The cost will be 20 cents per candidate if we hire X number by the end of the year.”Executives also want to know the company is ready for tomorrow and the next day with the right skills in the workplace. This is another way HR is bound to make itself invaluable to the business, said Josh Merrill, the CEO of Confirm, which makes performance management software. Give business leaders a detailed picture of what their workforce is capable of, as Merrill recommended, by way of “organizational network analysis.” Rather than relying on self-reported skills analysis or manager-reported analysis—which, Merrill believes, can be too biased or too unreliable—ask workers whom they go to for help on specific tasks or topics. “If we were to ask the question, ‘Who do you go to for help and advice?’ We could very quickly see, for example, that 12 people go to [one employee] for help with copywriting.” This is how you identify skills the C-suite wants in the workforce now and in the future.HR’s Changing ReputationHR is now a much bigger part of business than it was just a few years ago. That’s an advantage, said Lincoln. “We’re not business owners, but I feel like we’re business brokers. We’re the one department that interacts with everybody, no matter what industry, company size, or location. That influence is really powerful.”But human resources hasn’t always had this reputation, and it still has some old ways it needs to shake off, said Warren. “[The department has] a responsibility to be visible inside the organization, not just as the ‘The Terminator,’ or ‘Oh, no, HR is coming,’ or ‘I’m going to tell HR.’ We need to become a trusted advisor. When we show up, we want people to say ‘They’re here because they’re going to listen, and they’re a partner with me.’”HR Is the Link Between the C-suite and the Company CultureAnother duty of the HR team is to liaise between the C-suite and the people. The C-suite may not be able to see the culture anymore, said White. “You’re the CEO of the organization, and you think you know what's going on, but do you really know? Are you still as relevant as you were when you were working on the shop floor, or when you were in the field? People tell you what they want you to hear versus what may be reality.”Merrill put it like this: “I think that the gap between HR and the C-suite is the story that we tell is not the experience that they’re living.”Warren encouraged HR leaders to become experts on what it’s like to be an employee in the business. “We can get really insulated and spend a lot of time inside our bubble, but we have to get uncomfortable, and we have to learn about things that maybe we don’t want to learn about, and we’ve got to pay attention to things that are happening—then bring those insights, data, and information back inside.”Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza is a freelance journalist and From Day One contributing editor who writes about work, the job market, and women’s experiences in the workplace. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Quartz at Work, Fast Company, and Digiday’s Worklife, among others.

Overcome Stubborns
By Wanly Chen | September 18, 2023

Boosting Employee Mental Health By Building A Stronger Financial Future

In the U.S. today, inflation and high interest rates have exacerbated many people’s financial woes. Many Americans are dipping into their savings to pay their current expenses, rather than saving for the future.Financial stress can directly impact an employee’s mental and physical health as well as interpersonal relationships. The implications of such stress can be dire.In response, companies and leaders need to show their support in easing these concerns. During a From Day One webinar titled “Mind over Money: Boosting Employee Mental Health by Reducing Their Financial Stress,” From Day One contributing editor and journalist Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza hosted leaders in a discussion on financial well-being and how companies can help build financially secure futures for their employees.How Financial Stress Appears in the WorkplaceIn the workplace, internal struggles with money can come up in various ways. In a study by Morgan Stanley, researchers found employees burdened by financial concerns are nine times more likely to have troubled relationships with coworkers and are twice as likely to be searching for a new job.In the U.S., nearly a third of employees stated their financial concerns have directly impacted their work productivity. “These employees are struggling with presenteeism,” Kerry Symon, director of clinical partnerships at mental health solution company Spring Health said. “If they’re dealing with stress on debt, or staying out of debt, they’re not focused on work or on the culture.”Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza moderated the conversation between Stephanie Denton of Northstar and Kerry Symon of Spring Health (photo by From Day One)For employees with financial concerns, poor health can often follow. PwC’s financial wellness survey found 56% of employees said their financial concerns negatively impact their sleep, with 44% stating it had also impacted their physical health as well. “When employees are trying to cope with financial stress, they are more likely to have digestive issues, headaches, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, and are more susceptible to getting sick,” Symon added.These health issues not only increase absences but can cause employees to further lose opportunities to connect with their coworkers. “When they’re not at work, they’re not connecting with their co-workers,” Symon said. “If they’re not going out to lunch with them because of their fear of spending money, this makes them feel more isolated and can exacerbate the levels of depression.”Supporting Employees Financially Through BenefitsTo help employees alleviate their financial stress, leaders can lean on their benefits. In addition to common benefits like mental health benefits and paid leave, companies can offer targeted financial benefits that are more tailored to their employee needs.“Transportation benefits, tuition reimbursement, child care assistance are all great benefits to add,” Stephanie Denton, director of people and talent at financial wellness program Northstar, said. “If you have an office in New York, which can be expensive to get to and from places, you can pay for transportation perks. You really want to make sure that the benefits that you do offer reflect what your employee population needs.”Along with traditional retirement matching and company stock options, employees are seeking more benefits that support them directly financially. A study on employees’ well-being discovered that nearly 75% of employees state they aren’t satisfied with their company’s financial benefits and aren’t utilizing them. For companies and leaders, this not only means wasted resources but an immediate need to upgrade and reevaluate their offerings.“You want to meet employees where they are in their financial journey because everyone has a different level of financial knowledge. You want to make sure that whatever solution you’re providing meets all of those needs,” Denton said. “If [the information] is too much or too little for what they need or if it's not going to help them, employees will disengage immediately.”For cases like this, Denton recommends companies work with a financial wellness partner like Northstar that provides one-on-one advisor services to employees to help them make smart, financial decisions.“Most people don't have financial advisors that they can talk to. If you are not understanding the impact of the decisions that you’re making financially, you could have potentially bigger issues to navigate further down the line,” Denton said. “Having the professional come in to talk can help navigate that because they're getting to know you personally. These [advisors] can help them guide you to make decisions that make the most sense for you for your specific situation.”Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partners, Northstar and Spring Health, for sponsoring this webinar. Wanly Chen is a writer and poet based in New York City.

Overcome Stubborns
By Erin Behrens | September 15, 2023

Quantifying Care: How E4E Relief Is Making a Difference in Emergency Financial Relief

“This grant was a ray of light,” declared a worker who received emergency financial relief after a recent natural disaster. “The stress that comes with this is terrible, and this is the first time in my life that I’ve felt like somebody cares.” The worker, quoted by E4E Relief, a nonprofit that helps employers support workers in times of crisis, spoke for many of his colleagues as well. “Every time there is a hurricane and a business has to close down for a couple of days, employees, who are often living paycheck-to-paycheck, lose their scheduled hours and income.”Testimonials like this are abundant among recipients of emergency financial relief, yet companies who partner with programs like E4E Relief’s want to quantify the impact of their investment. With that in mind, E4E has launched a new program, ImpactStack, to conduct industry-leading research to quantify the incidental business outcomes of the financial relief work that their team has carried out for more than 20 years. The impact stretches across a range of social and business metrics that matter regardless of industry, geography, demographic, or crisis. The insights are then integrated into business intelligence that provides companies with insights about the outcomes that key stakeholders achieve through financial relief.Holly Welch Stubbing, E4E Relief’s president and CEO, says the new research confirms the significant impact of their program: “81% of grant recipients regained financial stability. 54% experienced improved mental well-being. 70% said that it helped them return to or maintain productivity at work. 52% said that they had increased engagement [at work], and 76% had a more positive perception of their employer.”From Day One recently interviewed Welch Stubbing to get an inside look at how ImpactStack collects and analyzes information about relief recipients at a time when employees need additional support for a multiplicity of reasons, including climate disasters, geopolitical disruptions, and economic conditions. Excerpts:Q: What is ImpactStack, and how did E4E Relief get started with it? How does it work?A: ImpactStack is our proprietary framework, insights, and business intelligence associated with providing the social and business outcomes of grants to individuals. Holly Welch Stubbing of E4E Relief shared insights from their recently launched program, ImpactStack (company photo)During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when our volume went up as companies really started grasping employee relief, we started doing outcomes-based research. While it was arguably a crazy time to launch, it also was a great time to launch from the standpoint of trying to assess need. We needed to know if the money being sent was really making a difference. I suspected it was, since we already had a lot of qualitative information from our grantees. We had stories and hundreds of notes, handwritten or sent via email, where people would articulate what happened to them and thank our team. However, I wanted that to be something quantitative and something we could make available to the companies we’re working with to show the outcomes of their philanthropic investment.I have been in the foundation world for 27 years, and the conversation is constantly, are our grants making a difference? How are we investing in these institutions to drive out a set of outcomes? Trying to ensure those institutions have the capacity, resources, and technology is extremely complicated and difficult. In our work, we have a real chance of getting real information from people who are receiving these grants. And so I thought, could we design something that meets the quantitative expectations of companies? And could we make that available in the form of insights as part of our solution? So in June, that’s what we did, and we expanded on the surveys we created, which had a focus on financial well-being, to map outcomes based on criteria that Fortune 500 clients would recognize. We wanted them to immediately see the relevance and understand the significance of the impact.Q: Were there any surprises in the data about impact?A: I was surprised at how high some of these scores were, particularly in our productivity results. 70% of our grant recipients were able to maintain productivity at work. And 54% ─ more than half the people we are granting to ─ have an improved mental state. That’s something. I expected engagement to be higher. The deeper you go into the social outcomes data ─ the housing, food, demographic data ─ that’s where there will be additional insights. And while that data isn’t available to our corporate partners yet, we’re working on it because it’s important and it shows a lot.Q: How does ImpactStack support E4E Relief’s goals and company philosophy?A: It’s central to who we are. Employee relief programs continue to gain importance, and organizations are trying to decide if it’s something they want to stack into their mix of workforce offerings. It’s hard to justify those investments without really understanding, ‘What is this doing?’ My hope is that, as our organization evolves and as we get more information, we can then provide a set of insights about what it looks like to be a financial first responder. There are all kinds of studies going on around meaningful support for the low to moderate income worker. And in the midst of natural disasters and the severity of all of these climate events now, companies feel like they need to do something. We’re providing support for personal hardships from these experiences, but also providing the C-Suite a readiness plan and a solution for when disaster strikes the next time so they don’t have to adjudicate this in the middle of the crisis. Support is already there.Q: How do you ensure insights found through ImpactStack are effectively communicated, and how do you use the information to refine the program?A: ImpactStack is now a part of our product, so every new company coming in is going to have access to it. For existing customers, we’ve launched it several different ways, including customer meetings and webinars.But the latter part of that question is what we’re really interested in. How do we evolve our processes and decisions based on what we’re seeing? We’re very new to that. And this will be part of our journey for the rest of time. But for the moment, we have new information and new insights unique to our market, and we will hold onto that and then expand on it. But for now, I think our outcome data offers enough to give people a sense of what they need to start having strategic conversations. We recently met with a very large Fortune 15 organization, and after meeting, they left with the information needed to justify a significant investment in the program. That’s as good a response as you can get from a company of that scale. We have our central purpose as a social enterprise and continue to think about additional layers. But there’s enough information here right now, even today, just from insights alone to get these conversations rolling.Q: ​​Do you have a quantifiable sense that we are facing more disasters today than ever before, and at the same time, socioeconomic situations where people are disproportionately affected?A: We’ve pulled together the drivers in the framework of climate change, geopolitics, and economic conditions. Imagine placing this concept on a chart: In the center, we have the conditions, while on the outer layer, we examine their individual impact and their implications for both businesses and the broader sustainable development goals, especially for those companies invested in ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles. We also built the research and the platform to meet the reporting requirements for ESG and corporate citizenship standards. So for big companies who really care about ESG considerations, the hope is that our data is accessible. Outcomes data of this kind can be hard to procure. Some believe we have made it much easier for companies to track “S”-related outcomes.We have data on disasters and the activity around them, and also the economic conditions in the U.S., with a focus on the utilization of credit, which is being used at the highest rate ever seen. We have all these connecting points and trends that we’re seeing to bring to thought leaders and continue having these conversations.Q: Your website offers many testimonials from grant recipients. Are there any specific stories or situations you’d like to shed light on? One that was particularly impactful?A: A relevant and impactful one is from the wildfires happening in Hawaii. It’s devastating, with the loss of life and homes. We’ve heard that one company has lost an employee, and 65 employees are now without homes. That’s a lot to process. There’s a group here that’s trying to work through it with them. Here’s a quote from them:“Our peaceful community was swept by the wildfire unleashed by Hurricane Dora. Our home, a sanctuary to my family for the past three years, turned to ashes in the blink of an eye. With evacuation orders, we fled, leaving behind everything. The fire took everything from us, but not our hope. Our family of four is now staying with friends searching for a new beginning. Basic necessities like food, water, and clothing have become urgent priorities. We are resilient. With your support, we can rebuild our lives in our community.”That’s powerful.Another example that comes to mind is the war in Ukraine. For most people and companies, it was a surprise that left no time to figure out a path for relief. And when you have banking systems that have shut down, and you have people fleeing, literally fleeing for their lives, we had to figure out how to get payments securely to individuals. It was difficult to get relief there, but we figured it out. As you can imagine, not every disaster affects every company, and it doesn’t hit every company the same way. I’m proud to work with the talented team at E4E Relief. They are committed to stepping up and navigating each client situation with compassion so that we can deliver emergency financial relief to individuals around the world.Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, E4E Relief, for sponsoring this sponsor spotlight.Erin Behrens is a member of the editorial staff of From Day One.Featured photo: Volunteers make food and supply deliveries to elderly residents impacted by the devastating wildfire in last month in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Overcome Stubborns
By Stephen Koepp | September 14, 2023

The Four Vital Ways for Managers to Be More Effective

Would you enthusiastically recommend your boss to another worker? Would you say they’re an effective manager? Most people wouldn’t. In a survey, only 28% of employees said they would strongly recommend their managers to others, while 14% would not recommend them at all. This is a chronic problem for employers, since workers with effective managers measurably thrive on the job, while those with ineffective ones languish. The impact to the bottom line can be substantial. The good news is that managers aspire to be more skilled in their jobs. But companies will have to step up: Only 29% of managers say their company gives them the training and support to be a better people leader. The solution is for companies to invest more in understanding what makes good managers and investing in their development, according to Caitlin Nobes, the author of a new report, “The Foundations of Manager Effectiveness,” published by Achievers, an employee recognition and engagement platform. The report illuminates how manager effectiveness drives business results, identifies four factors of management effectiveness that provide the most beneficial effects, and suggests concrete ways to give managers the leadership development they need to do a better job.Why isn’t this all part of corporate culture already? “I think there’s a gap between what organizations are able to do to support their managers and what managers actually want and need, as well as a gap between what HR thinks they are giving, and what managers feel they are getting,” said Nobes, lead analyst for Achievers, in an interview with From Day One. “I think this report is really crucial for saying to HR and business leaders: We’re missing the boat.”Why Is This Problem So Pressing Right Now? “I think that being a manager has always been challenging. And I think that it has been underestimated because it has always been seen as just part of most career paths. When you get far enough in your career, you start managing people. That was the pattern,” Nobes said.Caitlin Nobes, lead analyst and senior content marketing manager for Achievers (Company photo)Insufficient training for managers was almost a tradition, but only recently did the effects become so glaring, thanks to the pandemic, the racial-justice movement, and other social factors. A study from Workday and Red Thread Research found that manager effectiveness has declined since 2020. “In the last four years, we have seen the world of work get a lot more complicated,” Nobes said. “Many managers suddenly had this remote-work piece added on, with your team in their own homes–and you have to manage them effectively from your own home,” Nobes said. “All of these are complicating factors for managers who are still under a lot of pressure to meet performance objectives. I think we have managers who are potentially more aware of some of those other factors affecting their teams, but aren’t always clear on how to help address them.”How Manager Effectiveness Can Be Measured   The concept of a net promoter score (NPS), which measures the willingness of a customer to recommend a product or business, can be applied to managers as well. An mNPS survey asks workers whether they’d recommend their boss, with their sentiment ranked on a scale of promoter to neutral to detractor. That sentiment is a powerful indicator. “The performance gap between those that would recommend their managers and those who would not is huge,” the Achievers report said. The promoters, it turns out, are many times more likely to be engaged in their work, to have a strong sense of belonging, to feel committed to their job, and to say they’re productive at work. What Makes a Manager EffectiveManager effectiveness is the degree to which people leaders engage and motivate their team, as Achievers defines it. Four elements stand out in the survey data as being impressive drivers of manager effectiveness, the report says:     •Contact: My manager supports my success through regular 1:1 meetings.     •Recognition: My manager regularly provides me with recognition that makes me feel valued.     •Coaching: My manager provides me with guidance that helps me to be more effective in my role.     •Professional development: My manager supports my personal and professional development goals.When employees say their manager is good at one of these, it doubles the likelihood that they would recommend their manager. When all four are present, mNPS scores almost triple, the report says.Of those four elements, most managers can put the first three into action on their own initiative. But the fourth, professional development, “is probably the only of the four factors that a manager cannot do on their own,” Nobes said. “A great manager in an OK company–that great manager can give recognition, can be a coach, can have great one-to-one meetings, but they can’t provide career growth and professional development without buy-in from their own manager or from HR. So, I think that is really a key area of support.”The Training That Managers Need from Their EmployersTo become more effective, managers need a mandate to take the time to train themselves, as well as to pass along that value to their workers. The Achievers report recommends structuring manager training on a quarterly basis to provide a long-term framework. And companies should provide managers “with frequent touch points to remind them that part of their job is to upskill in this area,” Nobes said. “I think it’s very easy to get focused on metrics and to say, ‘Are we producing enough widgets?’ Or, ‘I really need to write that report this week, so I'm not going to do that LinkedIn Learning course that I bookmarked because I’m just too busy.’ We prioritize the short term, because that’s what feels urgent. So you need to have regular reminders to managers that a medium- to long-term view is also important–that you need to block out an hour a week, or two hours a week, to train yourself.”Middle Managers: Where the Impact Can Be Immediate“The idea of building a culture of recognition with managers first, I think is very powerful,” Nobes said. Achievers data shows that recognition can create a virtuous cycle: managers who recognize their workers frequently inspires their employees to do likewise, creating peer recognition as well. Robes describes this as a “middle-out” approach, rather than top-down. “Starting with your middle managers, they’re the frontline, the people who really can have an immediate impact on somebody’s day to day.”By contrast, “your CEO, your C-suite can make a decision, but it will probably take months for that to be felt at the frontline. But if you can get your manager to just think, ‘If I recognize every employee once a month, and start paying attention to that, I can have a pretty immediate impact,” Nobes said.No manager-effectiveness program is going to make every boss a dynamo of leadership, but just bringing the weak or average managers up to the next level can have a major impact on a workforce, Nobes said. “That’s huge internally. Those are more engaged employees. You’re getting discretionary effort, they’re not job-hunting as much. The ripple effect of investing in manager empowerment is so impactful.”Why a Sense of Belonging Is So ImportantAmong the four elements of manager effectiveness, “employees’ sense of belonging at work is the ultimate driver of individual and business performance,” says the report. Research by the Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI), the company’s research arm, has identified five measurable and actionable pillars of belonging: being welcomed, known, included, supported and connected. “Each of these pillars individually doubles the likelihood that an employee feels a strong sense of belonging and in combination, all five together triple an employee’s overall sense of belonging in the workforce,” the report said.“When people feel like they belong, it’s so powerful,” Nobes said. “It’s this feeling of acceptance and comfort and security. If you can create that experience for your employees, then you will have better business results on every metric that matters. When we think about how to drive belonging, we have these five pillars. The idea is that ‘belonging’ can sound very tenuous and eyebrow-raising, like, what does it even mean? So when you break it down to these five pillars that are pretty actionable, then HR and managers feel empowered.”The questions that managers should ask themselves about their workers include, Do they feel known? Are they sharing parts of themselves? And do people remember things about them? Nobes offered a personal example. “You know, I'm a big reader. And I have talked to a few people about books. Somebody on my team said, ‘I need a new summer read. What would you recommend?’ I felt so known. Like, ‘Oh yeah, I can help you, I would love to recommend a book for you.’”Glass Ceilings All the Way UpWhile the Achievers report diagnosed inadequate manager training across the board, it identified a particular support gap: gender discrepancies in manager empowerment. According to AWI research, men are 26% more likely than women to say they manage people in their role and men are 22% more likely than women to say they have a professional-development plan. Once women make it to an initial management position, they are less likely to be promoted beyond middle management, partly because of a lack of support that Nobes calls “glass ceilings all the way up.”“You break the glass ceiling, and you’re so happy and proud to have reached this level. And then you’re like, Okay, well, what’s next for me? And you look up, and there’s another glass ceiling.” Overall in corporate America, the result is that middle management has become more diverse, but the progress stalls in the higher ranks of leadership. Said the report: “If your pipeline to senior leadership is leaky, it’s time to step back and assess the overall process. How are succession plans developed and who gets shoulder-tapped for stretch assignments or fast-tracked promotion? … Remember, women in management are more likely than men to leave, whether for greener pastures or due to life pressures. Retaining managers from marginalized groups needs to be a top priority for companies focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the organization.”Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Achievers, who sponsored this story. (Featured photo by FatCamera/iStock by Getty Images)Steve Koepp is From Day One’s co-founder and chief content officer. 

Overcome Stubborns
By Carrie Snider | September 13, 2023

The Growing Need for Family-Care Support and Its Impact on Employees

Angelina Shamborska had no clue where to start. Her mother, living in Ukraine, had just been diagnosed with challenging health issues and needed her help. “Imagine dealing with that amount of stress and the unknown,” Shamborska said.Ironically, Shamborska is the senior director of global benefits at San Francisco-based IT company Okta, but providing family-care support to its employees was new to them. And she was about to experience the benefits firsthand.In a fireside chat at From Day One’s webinar, “The Economic Impact of Family-Care Support: A Case Study,” Shamborska discussed what it’s been like working with Grayce, a company providing family-care support for Okta and many other companies. Julia Cohen Sebastien, CEO and co-founder of Grayce, joined the discussion, speaking to the value of family-care support and its impact on employees.Trending: Caregiving BenefitsWhen trying to attract and retain top talent, competitive salary and benefits including medical and retirement options are crucial. But there is a growing segment of benefit options that employees are asking for: caregiving benefits.With the sandwich generation balancing both childcare and aging parent care, caregiving can feel like a full time job, often leaving people with no choice but to leave their job. Employees need support, and employers need innovative solutions.Part of Shamborska’s role at Okta is to analyze health care and employee well-being trends, and she quickly picked up on the trending topic of caregiving. “The landscape, especially in the U.S., is highly evolving,” she said. “By 2030, about one in five people in the US will be older than 65.”That’s significant in terms of impact on healthcare, and companies need to consider those aging needs when updating medical plans. But companies should also think about this: their employees will likely be caring for aging loved ones. The truth is, it’s already trending.“Caregiving support was a top-three ask from my employees,” Shamborska explained, sourcing surveys, focus groups, and employee resource groups. Third only to 401k matching and employee recognition. From her own research and employee feedback, it was obvious that Okta needed to offer family-care support to its 6,000 global employees. But how and what exactly?That’s where Grayce came in. Founded right before Covid hit, its expert consultants are dedicated to helping people navigate their unique caregiving situations. Consultants have master’s level training in social work or similar fields, and they’ve worked a number of years with relevant populations, many of them around the globe. Grayce offers a combination of services in terms of care planning, concierge support, technology solutions, community connection, tools, and trackers.“Among all of Grayce’s new clients, about a third of the care scenarios we’re supporting are people caring for other types of adults or loved ones,” Cohen Sebastien said. Some of the highest claimants are cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular, complex mental health, and more. Each one of those requires caregiving, but people aren’t sure of their options.Journalist Kelly Bourdet, bottom right, moderated the discussion among Cohen Sebastien and Shamborska (photo by From Day One)Shamborska found herself in that situation when her mom was diagnosed. “The consultant at Grayce has been just an absolute lifesaver. It was a complicated, international case,” she explained. “I felt absolutely confident with the information that was provided. They were able to find a place for my mother and hospice care. It was a very hard journey, so having that support was immeasurable.”Impact on EmployeesCaregiving can be a lonely venture, and it can cause a lot of stress. As Cohen Sebastien explained, caregivers have an 8-10% higher medical cost than non-caregivers, and many caregivers end up in poor health as a result of burnout.What do you do if you think your mother might have dementia? Or your sibling needs surgery and requires your help during recovery, but you don’t know how long that will last or what you’ll need to do for them? This has a direct impact on the caregiver’s emotions and their work life. The idea behind offering family-support benefits is to provide the best possible information and resources so that not only the loved one is cared for, but also the employee.Even though Shamborska went through a tough situation with her mom, because of Grayce the transition was much smoother. Besides some travel time, she didn’t have to devote much time figuring out the next steps and all the intricacies of caregiving overseas. That gave her peace of mind in a time of hardship.“A huge aspect of Grayce’s value is support for the caregiver themselves,” Shamborska added. “I was eternally grateful for Grayce and their team supporting me. But I’m hearing the same story from the people that we support. And I’m very proud that at Okta, we send a very strong signal that we support our employees as they care for their loved ones. Again, we want to make sure that they’re productive, they’re present, that they’re effective. But we do also care, we want to ensure that they feel good, and we have the tools and resources we are able to offer to them.”This personal touch has had an impact. Grayce did a study with all of the eligibility data that was available for 10,000+ employees they cover. What they saw was that of those that had access to and used the Grayce program, they had 38% lower attrition than all of those who had access to Grayce who did not use the solution. That’s good news for employers who want to keep top talent, but it’s also good news for employees—who, with family-support benefits, feel supported, less stressed, and stay in their careers.“We’ve seen 98% reporting gains in productivity, typically of a week or more,” Cohen Sebastien said. “And we’ve also seen that about half 49% have said that it’s reduced their need to take leave.” Now that’s a much better trend.Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Grayce, for sponsoring this webinar. Carrie Snider is a Phoenix, Ariz.-based journalist and marketing copywriter. 

Overcome Stubborns
By Katie Chambers | September 12, 2023

Overcoming Cancer Challenges: The Vital Role of Comprehensive Cancer Support

The average cost of medical care and drugs in the year following a cancer diagnosis is $42,000, well beyond the U.S. median income of $31,000. This can be devastating to an individual who is not only battling the physical, psychological, and emotional effects of the illness, but now also facing the daunting financial impact. How can employers help cover these costs effectively while also providing general wellness support for their team members who are suffering?Cancer recently emerged as the top healthcare cost for employers. In fact, Accolade, which improves employee healthcare outcomes and reduces employer healthcare costs through its all-inclusive suite of physician and case management services, estimates that the treatment of cancer worldwide will cost an estimated $240 billion annually by 2030. This change — and the potential impact of 10 million missed cancer screenings — has made oncology support even more crucial. As employers look to manage this growing healthcare threat, many may consider adding a new point solution.Some employers are already offering an integrated solution that offers employees the cancer support they need. During a recent From Day One webinar titled “Overcoming Cancer Challenges: Is Your Existing Solution the Answer?” team members from Accolade discussed how a personalized approach to healthcare can offer cancer prevention and support that improves care, cost, and outcomes.Enhancing Cancer Prevention and DetectionPreventative care is key, notes Erin Hirshorn, VP of case management at Accolade. But it’s often delayed due to extenuating circumstances. “About 9.5 million cancer screenings were delayed as a result of COVID,” Hirshorn said. As a result, 13% of employers have seen more late-stage cancers impacting their workforce and 44% expect that higher prevalence to continue. Employers would benefit both from investing in outreach encouraging employees to get cancer screenings, and from budgeting and bracing for the potential impact of a serious diagnosis down the line.Through Accolade’s targeted digital approach, the organization takes a holistic look at each member’s health and reminds them to get annual checkups, connecting them to its own team of in-person and virtual primary care physicians as needed. “We ensure that the patients do have that proper screening to include any sort of annual labs or age-appropriate preventative screenings aligning to evidence-based recommendations,” said April Ries, VP of clinical operations at Accolade. This also includes communications that encourage a healthy lifestyle, including advice on tackling obesity or other issues that could make someone more at-risk to cancer.Accolade’s stratification methodology allows them to quickly identify when a member may be facing a cancer diagnosis. “Where you start your treatment journey can make a big difference,” Hirshorn said, so Accolade prioritizes matching patients with the right nursing and care team to best match their diagnosis and personal circumstances. Expert panelists are available to virtually review patients’ medical records to make sure they are getting the best, most up-to-date, and most cost-effective care.Different Approaches for the Oncology Clinical Pathway“A cancer diagnosis really takes someone on a journey,” noted Morgan McHugh, VP of customer sales at Accolade, who moderated the conversation. “And it’s important to be specific about where [patients] are in that pathway and make sure that you’re serving them in the way that’s most meaningful.” McHugh notes that Accolade doesn’t approach cancer from one specific point solution but takes a more holistic approach. “We refer to this as integrated cancer support, all the way from prevention to either survivorship or palliative care,” McHugh said.Morgan McHugh, bottom right, moderated the discussion among Accolade colleagues April Ries and Erin Hirshorn (photo by From Day One)Ries notes that Accolade helps and encourages patients to attain second opinions, since the selection of a treatment plan is a crucial – and somewhat permanent – step in the cancer journey. Accolade’s team provides anticipatory guidance on what is to come and guides patients through the array of options available.Hirshorn notes that Accolade provides specific programs for individual cancer journeys, including a women’s health program and a high-risk maternity program. It also has behavioral health experts on board to assess how patients are managing from that perspective, and a 24/7 nursing hotline where members can ask questions about their symptoms the moment they arise.Even after patients are cancer-free, McHugh says, Accolade continues to work with them on organizing and paying any remaining bills and ensuring they are getting the proper screenings so that they stay in remission. Should patients need end-of-life support, Accolade is there too. “It takes a very special type of person to guide somebody through that decision making,” McHugh said, “to [help] make decisions in the context of their values, and in the context of their family life.” Accolade provides consultations with both palliative care and grief specialists.Planning, Guidance and Whole-person Care“Cancer is an incredibly complex clinical diagnosis. And it requires a multidisciplinary approach, both from a clinical perspective, but also from an administrative perspective, a financial perspective,” McHugh said.Accolade provides patients with in-depth support on the administrative and financial side of their diagnosis. “How does leave of absence work? How does short-term disability work? How do I use my HSA account? All that information can be overwhelming,” Hirshorn said. “So, in addition to our clinicians, we have health assistants who are experts in this and can walk people through the different ways to file for those things.” Accolade also provides services in various languages to make sure communication issues are not a barrier to healthcare access.“It can be a very overwhelming moment, not just for that person, but for their family,” Hirshorn said. And McHugh notes that unfortunately most patients get only 10 or 15 minutes at most with an in-person clinician, even when trying to process a devastating diagnosis. Accolade supplements those appointments with oncology consultations that are on average about 40 minutes long and provide a human touch to the discussion of next steps. “These are top experts across the country at major academic institutions,” McHugh said. “To get that level of guidance and peace and calm and have someone walk you through your next steps can be game-changing for the person going through the journey, [and] also the family members involved.”Elevating Healthcare ExperiencesMcHugh notes that allowing for virtual options can help increase access, especially as the U.S. faces a primary care shortage. “Supplementing your existing strategy as an employer and providing some type of virtual opportunity can increase adherence to primary care visits and screenings,” she said. This can even include at-home testing, which can be a literal and figurative lifesaver for busy parents. “You want to make sure as an employer, you’re creating a lot of opportunity for individuals to get the care that they need in the form that fits their life best,” McHugh said.It’s not just doctors who direct a patient’s oncological journey. Hirshorn explains that Accolade has a transition care program staffed by nurses who provide support alongside case managers to make sure patients receive a steady stream of personalized care in the hospital and also understand the treatment plan for when they are discharged. Pharmacists are also incorporated into the program to provide insight into the complex medication regimens and review them with case managers.Accolade case managers can help patients navigate some of the barriers they may face with local care, including encouraging cross-collaboration among oncologists and accessing proper insurance authorizations. They can connect them with local cancer support groups to help them build their support network beyond their family and friends, as well as clinical psychological support for the depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that can result from the cancer journey. “We have a firm belief that we can’t change healthcare alone,” McHugh said, so Accolade also partners with other organizations to provide additional support.Providing Personalized Care for EmployeesBy engaging with organizations like Accolade, employers can provide a “one-stop shop” for employee healthcare needs where they can access guidance, support, advocacy, and care from a holistic perspective. Especially when navigating a diagnosis as daunting as cancer, such consistent and personalized care from an employer-provided service can make a life-saving difference in the lives of employees and their families.Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Accolade, for sponsoring this webinar. Katie Chambers is a freelance writer and award-winning communications executive with a lifelong commitment to supporting artists and advocating for inclusion. Her work has been seen in HuffPost, Honeysuckle Magazine, and several printed essay collections, among others, and she has appeared on Cheddar News, iWomanTV, and CBS New York.

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