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The HR Scoop

Bridget Hallman from Paychex | The Five Pillars of Employee Well-Being

Season 6
June 24, 2024

In the season six debut of the HR Scoop Podcast, Andrea Herron returns to the mic to interview Bridget Hallman from Paychex. Bridget shares her journey in the health and wellness arena and leading employee well-being strategy at Paychex. She discusses the adoption of Gallup’s five elements of well-being at Paychex and highlights the importance of leadership support, practical implementation strategies, and the impact of well-being programs on both employees’ lives and company success. 


Andrea: [00:00:00] Welcome back, everyone, to another episode of the HR Scoop. Today, I am so pleased to welcome Bridget Hallman with us from Paycheck. Welcome, Bridget.

Bridget: Thank you. Thank you for having me. Excited to be here with you.

Andrea: Yeah, I’m looking forward to this conversation. I think there’s, you know, a lot of really cool things that y’all are doing that I am Hear about and share with our audience.

But before we go there, I think it’s always helpful just to get a little bit of background about, you know, you and how you ended up in your role. So if you wouldn’t mind sharing a little bit about yourself with us.

Bridget: Yeah, no, definitely. So I worked in the health and wellness arena for over a decade. I started really in student health and well being at in the college campuses.

Um, and then went to health care and then ultimately landed at Paychex seven years ago. Um, at Paychex, I lead the employee well being strategy for our [00:01:00] 16, 000, um, employees. And it’s been a great career at Paychex. I’m so happy to be here. Um, and happy to represent Paychex on this podcast today.

Andrea: Awesome. And thank you for doing work with the young people and all of that that you did.

I think we’ve all, you know, been there and probably could have taken a little better care of ourselves during those precarious years. So glad to know that, uh, you know, there are good people out there doing that work.

Bridget: Yes. Very rewarding. Work totally different focus right from professionals in a work setting versus students on a college campus,

Andrea: you know, a little different.

Yeah, a little different. Um, so thank you for sharing that. And I just kind of want to I’m excited to jump right in. So, I know that Page X has adopted the Gallup scientist philosophy that there are five universal elements that make up well being. So, I’d love to hear more about what those five elements [00:02:00] are and why it was a good fit for you all.

Bridget: Yeah, so, as many of your listeners may know, Gallup and Jim Harter Decades ago, started publishing global research where they asked people around the world, what the best possible future for them would look like. And they found people definitely weighed income, um, their wealth and their health very high and possibly because those factors are measurable, but upon completion of their research, they found these five distinct elements, universal Um, that could be measured and controlled, and they define them, um, as, as that they differentiate someone from having a thriving life from someone who might have spent their life suffering.

And we found these elements important to everyone across the globe, no matter what culture, and, and we, we agreed with their research, um, and they consider them the currency of a life that [00:03:00] matters. Um, and those elements being physical, well being, emotional, financial, community, and career. So at Paychex, we’ve adapted the definitions.

So for physical well being, we think about it as that traditional element, right? The health and wellness of your employees. Things that we were doing, um, 20 years ago at Paychex with biometric screenings, those types of things. Um, and we define it as do you have enough energy or stamina to get through your day and do what you want to do every day?

Um, you know, no matter what that is, if you’re working, taking care of your kids, running errands, and so on, is your body fueled? And prepare to get through your day and then some folks and some employers i’ve seen have six pillars where they split Social connection and mental health and we’ve combined them into one which we call emotional well being And we define it as do you [00:04:00] feel good about yourself and have healthy relationships?

We know our emotional well being matters just as much as our physical and we definitely emphasize that to our employees And then we have financial well being You We define it as, do you have enough money to meet your needs and pursue your personal interests? We have community. Are you connected and proud of your community, both at and at work and outside of work and then career?

Do you like what you do every day? This component of well being we know is so impactful, and according to Gallup’s research, it’s the most important because we spend most of our waking hours at work.

Andrea: Wow. Yeah, I mean, those are all so important, and I think a lot of us in the HR world strive to address all of those, but it’s pretty tricky.

I mean, it’s one thing to say, you know, do you like your career? Because maybe you can actually have a little bit of influence over that. When You’re the one employing people, and maybe you can update their [00:05:00] projects or their teams or their stretch opportunities. But once you get into, you know, do you have energy to get through the day?

You know, do you have enough money to meet your financial needs and your emotional well being? That definitely get trickier, um, because everybody’s personal situation is different, of course. And I don’t know, I think a lot of people would say, yeah, I can meet my financial needs, but sure would like some more money to do all the extra things that I like.

So I’m curious how you all kind of address those five pillars in a practical way and not just like, oh, so you don’t have enough money. Okay, well, we’ll just note that and kind of move on. How are you actually managing those expectations?

Bridget: Yeah, so there’s a lot of like measurement that goes into what we do, but really at the base of how we look at our programs to address those five pillars or elements is, is we categorize them into the five elements.

So, um, and WebMD has helped us [00:06:00] do that. So we have the five pillars and we Um, create small incentives within the WebMD program to promote each one of those and what we feel like we’ve designed this purposely And to really allow the employees the autonomy to pick what they want to focus on So say for this quarter someone wants to focus on their financial health They can do so and receive small incentives incentives along the way But we also encourage folks to work in all five areas because we know You If they strengthen all, all their overall well being, you know, they’ll have better days, months, and years, and, and so we encourage them to really look at all five pillars.

Um, you know, there is so there’s all sorts of different programs that fall within the five pillars. I have a whole presentation that oftentimes they go out and do in different departments. It takes over an hour. They go through all the great benefits that we offer and programs that can help in these [00:07:00] areas.

But we definitely recognize that employees have different needs, and we’re always listening to employees feedback. And trying to adapt our different types of programming.

Andrea: So it sounds like you’re not just talking the talk. You’re actually walking the walk and your company is adding, I don’t know, resources, maybe funding, definitely time to invest into these areas which must align to your values.

Is well being or wellness Like a nice, it sounds like more than a nice to have, I guess is what I’m saying, like, how is that really thought of inside of your organization from a strategic kind of values, mission perspective? Because I imagine it’s got to be up there as like a pillar or something to put this much effort into it.

Bridget: Yeah, absolutely. So Paychex for years, well before I was here, had what we call a blue chip or a strategic goal. Um, that we’re committed to our employees being engaged in their own well being [00:08:00] so they can be their best in every area of their life. And I always, always love to mention that’s both inside and outside of work.

So, it definitely aligns with our values. That’s one of our blue chips. And, uh, Um, we also talk about what it means to be paychecks and what it means to be paychecks. We focus on well being, the employee’s well being and taking care of themselves and their family members so that they can show up for clients, right?

And with showing up for clients, we also have our six values. So our six values are being ethical, being collaborative, responsible. Considerate curious and helpful. Um, so they kind of there’s an alignment there. I wouldn’t say it’s a true You know written value, but it’s I think an understanding That we have at paychecks that we really need to ingrain well being First before we can really truly live out [00:09:00] those values

Andrea: Yes.

I mean, and it, it shows, right? It’s in the last year alone, y’all have won so many awards, you know, fortunes, world’s most admired companies, 50 best companies to sell for, America’s most innovative, greatest workplace for diversity, ethical, I mean, just on and on and on, which Send the t Is a side effect of the work you’re doing, but I think it shows that, you know, if a company really sets their sights on doing the right thing and being consistent and staying, you know, on top of it and not letting these things kind of flame out, like oftentimes they can, if no one is really spearheading them, um, you can achieve internal satisfaction, but also external recognition, which It’s important for some, um, companies, if that’s kind of their, their guiding light.

I’m curious how, you know, your leadership team, obviously they support it, but how are they living [00:10:00] these values out loud? You know, how are they showing the team that they are also doing this work? Um, kind of as that visible guiding support, um, from the top.

Bridget: Yeah, so top down is super important, starting from our CEO, John Gibson, um, and then, you know, to our VPs and, and what we find, though, interestingly, top down, super important, sending that message and setting the tone around, you know, employee well being and the importance, but also we find that our middle managers or front line supervisors is super important.

Yeah. Yeah. Play the biggest impact. Um, they’re the ones who can impact employees day to day, right? So, um, you know, it’s something that we hope all our leaders are modeling, um, and taking back to their employees. So, for example, we set [00:11:00] up just this last year, um, in our performance reviews, um, That the manager takes to the employee questions about their well being just checking in on them, right?

Um, sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes people especially Um in our it world, they need like this script to just even say hey, how are you doing? How is your well being? Um you at the end of your day Do you feel like you’re just completely exhausted or are you still having enough energy to bring home? So we’ve really worked this into the performance comments Um, so that we can have those managers having those meaningful conversations to our front line staff so that they can bring that only resources and programs to them.

Um, but also just, you know, Overall, checking in on their employees to make sure that they understand that we care about them as an employee.

Andrea: Yeah, I mean, we’ve seen time and time again [00:12:00] that leadership support out loud, not just approving the budget, but talking to employees at town halls, in meetings, sharing a personal story.

Whether or not it’s personal to them specifically, or just something they have experienced in the organization, is one of the number one indicators that the, that it will continue, that people will accept it and feel psychologically safe to bring those things up. So, I agree with you, it’s a yes and, right?

The leadership has to set that and be visible. And the frontline middle managers have an enormous amount of influence over the day to day experience of their individual staff. Because it’s one thing to see what the CEO says, it’s another thing to have your direct supervisor. You’re checking in with you and cause you have a personal connection with them.

Um, and so I love that you’re providing some tools, [00:13:00] talking points. So I think that’s part that sometimes we forget is managers don’t come into being managers because they have. A background in leading other people, oftentimes they are really good at their job and they got promoted, especially as a first time manager.

And so providing tools, talking points, information, an outline, a resource, you know, anything in depth. Critical to making the individual manager successful. So what, what else are you all doing? Or do you have any examples of things that are going really well or that have been, you know, kind of success of the, the positive impacts that these programs are having?

Bridget: Yeah. So typically when we look at impact, We go to the data right as we strive to be a data rich data driven company. Um, and we have 40 percent participation across our larger programs, including WebMD. And so really, [00:14:00] that data is rich and helps us really help drive our outcomes. But often, you know, in population health, although really meaningful, when it comes to my day to day, those personal testimonies, those success stories are what lift you and keep you going.

Um, and it’s not every day we hear, You know, this program saved my life, but we do hear it. Um, and it’s really what keeps us all moving forward. So those stories about people, um, who are parents who lost 10 percent of their body weight and now, um, tell us that they can play on the floor with their kids and run with their children, um, employees who were suicidal, who got help because their coworkers support, and they found paychecks, resources, and free therapy.

There’s, we have men in their 40s who don’t know that they’re hypertensive, who are now managing their blood pressure. Those testimonies and what, and what we hear are so powerful and really, really impactful.

Andrea: Absolutely. I [00:15:00] think as humans, we are drawn to those individual stories, right? And it’s another reason why having a direct Connection to the manager or hearing a specific personal story from the leadership really opens the doors because data is amazing, but it’s not personal, right?

And a lot of times we have to take the data said, use it to validate, to understand, to get, you know, the buy in for what we need. But that’s not going to translate to the individual employees experience. It’s these antidotes. It’s the stories. I mean, we see it all the time with our coaching clients. Like we know we touch however many people’s lives, but then you’d hear the story of the person who, like you said, lost the weight so they could do the activities they wanted or quit smoking after 20 years.

And you’re like, wow, this is really impacting actual human beings, which is so great. Absolutely. So. I guess, how do you continue to [00:16:00] foster this culture of wellness beyond just this formal program and these pillars, meaning, you know, how do you keep it going outside of a very structured format? Because that’s great, but, you know, it’s got to be more than just, here’s the flyer that we agreed to send in February.

Bridget: Absolutely. So it’s definitely a multifaceted approach. Um, we have multiple stakeholders across the organization. So we’re talking leadership development, uh, learning and development. So our trainers who are out there training, um, during our year end readiness for our frontline staff. Um, so working with them to incorporate different training.

Ways that we can talk about well being and talk about our programming. Um, we have wellbeing champions. We have employee business resource groups, so all vital ways to really keep that culture going. Um, [00:17:00] and it’s fun to see because. Over the last seven years, I think we’ve really progressed, uh, to really have well being be part of our culture.

Um, I’ll talk to different stakeholders in the organization, and they’re doing things without me having to hold their hand. They’re running the meeting with a meditation in the beginning. They’re doing a check in at the end. They’re doing things that, you know, at first I felt like I was forcing down. To people to say, Hey, what have you thought about doing this?

How about we talk about bringing in healthy options? And now I think it’s just something we do, which is wonderful. Going back to leaders being, um, super involved from modeling to bringing the programs to the employees. Um, we encourage leaders, like I said, to have proactive conversations. And, um, I think all of that, it’s definitely multifaceted and it takes time, it takes a lot of time to get there.

And [00:18:00] I’m fortunate to work for a company that I think we’re, we’re, we’re already there, which is, is great. We have work to do, of course, just like any other company. Um, especially in certain divisions, but it’s great to see that it really is part of our culture.

Andrea: It’s very aspirational, and I think it shows the power of consistency, and also highlights The shifts that we’ve experienced in the past few years, I think, as it relates to our own personal wellbeing and how we take care of ourselves, been kind of under a spotlight, um, send, you know, things kind of went upside down.

I’m curious though, what tips you might have for others who don’t work in a really big company or don’t have, you know, the staff and the resources to maybe build out something so robust. You know, you even have solo HR practitioners who want to do something or anything. You know, how could you keep the momentum going if they already have a program or even [00:19:00] one of your favorite things that might be pretty simple, but makes a big difference?

Really anything you could share about how people could kind of move towards the direction of where y’all are.

Bridget: Yeah. Um, yeah. I guess for the smaller, the smaller employees with limited resources, and I’ll have to say at Paychex, we are fairly limited. It’s just me right now. Um, but you know, I think those, um, those advocates that can really push towards your goals, um, whether it be well being champion networks, um, or other stakeholders in your organization, partnering with um, and finding those.

True advocates, because there’s a lot of folks out there who have wellbeings personal to them. It’s something that they’re passionate about. Um, and it’s something they want to drive forward. They want to drive forward in the organization and they’re willing to volunteer their time outside their, their regular job to be able to do that.[00:20:00]

Um, and that’s great. And if you can find those folks and identify them and, you know, give them love throughout the year and, and make sure they feel heard, um, I think that, that definitely plays a huge impact.

Andrea: I agree with you on that. I think any good initiative that really goes the distance and lasts and makes a real impact.

Has to be somewhat of a grassroots effort, we have to support it from the top and all the things that we talked about, but especially if you don’t have that same commitment from the top, it can still be successful if you tap into those people who care, you know, it’s kind of like events committees or kind of group, you know, we talk about employee resource groups all the time.

Those typically are employee driven because those people want it. And so if you are out there and you don’t know where to begin, I think it’s a great point to say you don’t have to own the whole thing top to bottom. You can [00:21:00] leverage and stretch people who are interested, and that also gets them to buy in and share and tell their coworkers.

And get, you know, excitement that you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting for.

Bridget: Absolutely. It’s, it’s definitely a big piece of the program that, that we run today. And I wouldn’t be able to do it without all of my advocates that are out there at paychecks.

Andrea: So since you are kind of the owner of this program and, you know, obviously doing a great job, what impact kind of, are you hoping that this program has on your employee’s lives?

And also the success of the company. Like what is your aspiration of, of impact here? I

Bridget: think there’s definitely lots of ways that we’re impacting the company, but when thinking about any company, not just paychecks, um, well being has become a focus and a priority, right. Across the board. And in fact, our marketing team has surveyed employees at SMB size companies in [00:22:00] 2021, and they found that 48%.

Of, um, employees reported their employer prioritizes their well being, and I’d like to think that notably has improved in the three years since. So we know it’s important to employees, which hopefully means better reta retention and attraction. And at Paychex, we say, we want employees lives to be better because they worked here.

And, and that’s something, you know, we truly believe and, and want. And if that’s true, we know they will be more satisfied in their jobs. They’ll be more engaged, which I think is positively correlated with the success and sustainability of the company.

Andrea: Absolutely. What a great approach that we want you to be better for have worked here.

Like, I love that we could all take that little nugget and think, how would that apply to our own career, but also how we work within teams, within companies, how we’re leading meetings. [00:23:00] You don’t, you don’t have to be a senior director or even a manager to make the workday better for yourself and your coworkers and your team.

So I think that’s a really, really great point that even leading the meditation, you know, not all groups are going to like that, but you can take five minutes to do that, to do, I know some groups do a check in, a one word, a thumbs up, a thumbs down, you know, there’s all sorts of creative, free ways to connect.

And I think one kind of underlying thing that I kind of heard throughout our conversation is connection, getting to the actual person and trying to get out what makes their day better, what fits into their life, and then having resources that are going to meet them where they are. I think that’s the only way you can actually do it.

We say here all the time, there is no one size fits all approach. You think of your own experience and what [00:24:00] worked for you. This month, as far as your self care and your mental well being or physical well being, probably different than six months ago. For one, there was more sunshine six months ago. You know, that in itself is different.

And so, I think it’s important to keep an open mind that you need to refresh. You need to keep new ideas coming. And don’t be afraid if something worked and it doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t mean it failed. It means you need to iterate and keep it moving. Again, because We’re humans, and that’s what we do.

We’re cyclical in nature.

Bridget: Absolutely. Totally agree.

Andrea: Yeah, well, I just want to say thanks again for joining us. This is a lot of really great information and I think very, you know, aspirational and inspirational and some things also very tactical that we can all, you know, take away to our own companies and jobs.

But before I let you go, I want to ask you what I always ask my guests here on the HR scoop is [00:25:00] if you would tell us something about yourself Could be boring, interesting, you know, it’s really up to you that most people don’t know about you.

Bridget: So this is where I talk about the fun hobbies, right, that I, that I do, but currently I’m in the phase of my life where I’m managing a toddler and a baby girl as a mom of two under two.

So it leaves me with a little free time, um, but becoming a mom, uh, two years ago has been such a journey. And learning new things every day as they grow and develop. But I think my fun fact is that I am officially in the two under two club, which I didn’t know existed, um, until last year. So it’s very fun, um, and rewarding for sure.

Andrea: Well, congratulations. And also, I think, gosh, how interesting that journey must be when you’re focused on all the pillars of well being, and you [00:26:00] probably have five minutes, if you’re lucky, to yourself throughout the day. Um, so, do you have anything that works for you in those five minutes? Very, very precious few minutes to ground yourself and kind of keep yourself in a healthy place.

Bridget: Well, I’m definitely a big proponent of mindfulness based stress reduction and, you know, if you have two minutes and can just meditate or, you know, go into the other room, uh, and get away. Um, and hopefully, you know, you’re having your kids in a safe space. It’s, it’s definitely needed because you learn quickly, like how.

Little patience or you, you might have. Um, but yeah, definitely a big proponent of mindfulness. I def try to practice it as much as I can, even if I have two minutes. Um, but yes, it’s been, it’s definitely been a journey. My life has been turned upside down and, um, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it definitely helps being in, in this type of career to understand, [00:27:00] Hey, you got to make sure you’re, you’re taking the time for yourself as well.

Um, and not in, in, you know, not giving everything, which I am. I tend to be a caregiver is my, you know, personality. So it definitely is difficult, but. Um, you have to just make the time and, and find the time and, and of course, take help, you know, I think in the beginning I, I was like, anyone who offered help and I was like, Oh, I’m okay, I got this, you know, but now I’m like, I need help, um, you know, asking, you know, Anyone for help and in caregivers and parents and all that, um, to not be, you know, ashamed of that.

So it’s such

Andrea: a good point.

Bridget: Yeah, and

Andrea: completely back to what we were talking about just a minute ago about the phases of life and how we never know what other people are going through and what worked for you. Now, certainly it was different than six months ago, which was absolutely different than a year ago, which was different than a year before that.[00:28:00]

And finding two minutes. I mean, sounds like, Oh, it’s just two minutes, but it’s sometimes hard to find two minutes and really go inward and do some mindfulness, but it really can make an absolutely huge difference. I talk about doing beauty breaks, which is 60 seconds, 90 seconds. If you’ve got it, look out your window, find a beautiful photo on your phone, tap into that, you know, vacation feeling where you’re just in awe.

And if you really do that for one minute, it can shift how you feel. And so I think people, you know, sometimes forget because it seems like, oh, it’s just a minute, but it really can make a difference. So I think that’s a great tip and very realistic, uh, for busy, busy parents who are working and two under two is something I will never, um, have the experience of.

So congratulations and good luck with it.

Bridget: Well, I love that. I love [00:29:00] finding beauty. Yeah, it definitely is, is a good tactic for when you have, um, limited time. For sure. And talking to folks who, you know, have done it, you know, they often remind you this is a phase and it’s going to go away and enjoy it. And I’m like, how can I enjoy it?

But you do, you find those moments that you really can enjoy and remind yourself, yes, this is a phase. They do grow up and eventually leave. And how sad is that? But, um, it’s, it’s definitely been

Andrea: a journey. It’s a phase, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it in the moment. So, well, continue doing your great work and thank you again for sharing your knowledge and tips with us.

It’s been great having you on the show. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

The HR Scoop

Humanizing Well-Being, Part #2

Season 2
July 22, 2021
The HR Scoop

Humanizing Well-Being, Part 1

Season 2
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