Health and Wellness Take Center Stage

5 Minutes with Alexis Vrotsos
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As the chief people officer for Olumo, Alexis Vrotsos aims to know what makes employees happy. Olumo, based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, is a consulting agency that works with companies to uncover their employees’ true feelings about company culture and then helps
them develop solutions that will promote the well-being of their workers.
Vrotsos makes sure Olumo practices what it preaches. “We realized that it is critical that we emanate what we are trying to achieve,” she says. “For us to be able to serve our clients the best, we needed to establish a healthy cul- ture from day one.” Vrotsos spoke with Diversity Woman about how companies are upping their game when it comes to their employees’ health and wellness.

Diversity Woman: What are companies doing to support their employees’ mental and physical health during the pandemic?
Alexis Vrotsos: Companies are doing things like round robin engagements once a week to ensure that their people are engaging and having that water cooler talk that’s missing from the work-from-home environment.
You have organizations that are doing fitness challenges, ensuring that their employees get up and away from the desk and have that opportunity to stretch their legs and walk and get their steps in. You have companies that are implementing meditation software.

DW: Are companies placing more of an emphasis on helping their employees with health and wellness than in the past?

AV: No one has been left untouched by this pandemic, and collectively we are all changed forever. Because of that, I think organizations are looking at taking stronger ownership around the well-being of their people. But it’s also good business. On average, mental health issues ac- count for 30 to 40 percent of short-term disability claims. So there’s a tangible value in supporting your people.

DW: How can companies best determine what health and wellness initiatives to put in place?
AV: What’s critical is to under- stand what their people need. You need to have a conversation with them. You need to open up a dialogue where it’s safe and comfortable for them to share what they’re feeling, share what their needs are, share what’s lacking.

DW: How does Olumo help companies determine what health and wellness initiatives would be most effective?
AV: One of the traditional ways is through a survey. We found that it’s flawed because it doesn’t create a conversation. It doesn’t allow employees to give their ideas on how to improve the organization. What we do is facilitate that engagement anonymously as a third party, so we can then provide that feedback to our clients so they can develop the right plan of action.

DW: What can we learn about corporate health and wellness initiatives from practices around the world?
AV: When we look at some of our counterparts and what
they’re doing across the globe, it’s pretty phenomenal. The French have established laws for the right to disconnect [from digital devices] for their workers. Organizations have to establish hours when staff should not answer phones or emails. In the Netherlands, no working hours are allowed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless the work is a designated night work job. For a lot of Americans, I think instituting something like that would be wonderful, but at the same time, you can’t just change with one brushstroke because people within the organization would say, “I enjoy that I’m able to log on and work in the later hours of the day.”

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