Blog post hero

Episode 11: How to implement wellbeing strategies that actually work with Cassandra Rose, Head of People @ Fringe

Well­be­ing is more than just a buzz­word or a one-size-fits-all pro­gram. It’s indi­vid­ual to each employ­ee and a key deter­mi­nant of a healthy work life in the work­place. And con­trary to pop­u­lar belief — well­be­ing can be measured!

Cas­san­dra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP joins Jason again this week to dis­cuss how to mea­sure well­be­ing and how HR teams can imple­ment well­be­ing pro­grams that are mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial to the employ­ee and employer.

Now avail­able on: YouTube | Apple Pod­casts | Spo­ti­fy

Key ideas and highlights

  • The youngest gen­er­a­tion demands a pur­pose-dri­ven career. How can we keep up?
  • There are 3 main work deter­mi­nants of health: lead­er­ship, orga­ni­za­tion­al design, and ways of work­ing across the organization.
  • Well­be­ing now must be a part of the ben­e­fits equi­ty conversation.
  • Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, well­be­ing is measurable.

Word of the day

  • We haven’t for­got­ten about the word of the day! We’ll pick this back up when Jor­dan returns next week.


  • 0:00 Intro
  • 2:39 Well­be­ing as one of the most impor­tant met­rics in HR
  • 4:18 The def­i­n­i­tion of wellbeing
  • 6:17 Well­be­ing isn’t just a nice to have; it’s a need to have
  • 7:24 Younger work­ers demand a pur­pose-dri­ven work life
  • 9:04 The dif­fer­ence between hap­pi­ness and purposefulness
  • 12:15 Adop­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ty and fulfillment
  • 13:48 The dif­fer­ence between being a cog and a spoke in the wheel
  • 17:14 Deloitte study on Well­be­ing and the social deter­mi­nants of health
  • 18:17 The three work deter­mi­nants of wellbeing
  • 23:07 Busi­ness bot­tom line and human flour­ish­ing aren’t at odds
  • 25:34 Why your peo­ple need to have agency in their wellbeing ]
  • 30:21 How to mea­sure well­be­ing and imple­ment programs
  • 37:45 3 steps to design­ing the work experience


Jor­dan (00:05):

How many hours and years of our lives do we spend on work for near­ly all of us, we spend 30 plus years and one third of our days in our voca­tion, more time per­haps than we spend at rest or at play. But this isn’t a prob­lem. Why? Because work is good. Work needs to be inte­grat­ed deeply into our lives and must be in line with our most impor­tant goals and val­ues. And if it is, we have a far more com­plete and ful­fill­ing life expe­ri­ence. Wel­come to the How Peo­ple Work pod­cast, where we explore the inter­sec­tion of how humans think and act and how they apply them­selves to their work. When you under­stand both of these things, you’ll be equipped to be insight­ful, com­pas­sion­ate, and com­pelling leaders.

Jason (00:50):

Wel­come back to How Peo­ple Work. Every­one. Thanks for join­ing us today. We have Cas­san­dra Rose join­ing us again as a guest on the pod­cast. So I am host­ing. Jor­dan is not here today, but we are very excit­ed to have Cas­san­dra back with us to con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion that we start­ed last week around peo­ple, and par­tic­u­lar­ly the idea of well­be­ing, which we touched on just a tad last time. We got onto some oth­er inter­est­ing top­ics. But there’s some real­ly inter­est­ing research that’s come out of this Deloitte study that we men­tioned, and we’ll post it in the show notes for those who are inter­est­ed. But that’s some­thing that I think will be real­ly inter­est­ing to delve into today, espe­cial­ly giv­en Cas­san­dra’s expe­ri­ence in the ben­e­fits space well­be­ing, work­ing at both small and large orga­ni­za­tions. And so I’m real­ly excit­ed to jump into this today.

Cas­san­dra (01:46):

Yeah. Well, thank you again for hav­ing me on the show. For the peo­ple who did­n’t hear it the first time around, I am the head of peo­ple here at Fringe and have about 20 years of HR expe­ri­ence. And I’ve worked in not just the ben­e­fits space, but also in cor­po­rate immi­gra­tion, in recruit­ing and learn­ing devel­op­ment and HR sys­tems. And I’m real­ly proud to be a prac­ti­tion­er of the HR dis­ci­pline. And what I think is so fas­ci­nat­ing about the well­be­ing study is that in the orga­ni­za­tions that I worked at that were For­tune 100 and were well resourced, well­be­ing was always a top item to be dis­cussed. And I think that we are now real­iz­ing it’s not just com­pa­nies who have the priv­i­lege of hav­ing ded­i­cat­ed peo­ple like well­be­ing has to be the way that you think about work, whether you’re the CEO or a first time employee.

Jason (02:39):

And that’s a big change that’s tak­en place. More recent­ly, and I don’t know if I’ve shared this yet, but my role with­in Fringe more recent­ly has been with­in our Inno­va­tion team. And so I’ve been con­duct­ing some research recent­ly with HR indi­vid­u­als. We did a big sur­vey where we gath­ered some data and then myself, some oth­er folks on my team have been inter­view­ing HR exec­u­tives and talk­ing about some of these top­ics. And I was actu­al­ly real­ly sur­prised. One of the things that came out of this research that we did was one of the ques­tions that we asked was what are the met­rics that are most impor­tant with­in the HR func­tion? And so we had all sorts of peo­ple from all sorts of dif­fer­ent HR roles that we asked them to rank order out of about 10 dif­fer­ent met­rics, what were the top five for them? And the met­ric that was most con­sis­tent­ly numer­i­cal­ly kind of rat­ed in the top five was wellbeing.


And I was real­ly sur­prised by that because, and nor­mal­ly you hear attract and retain, right? Recruit­ing met­rics, reten­tion met­rics, obvi­ous­ly those are very impor­tant to how the busi­ness oper­ates and the effi­cien­cy of the busi­ness. But well­be­ing, I was a lit­tle sur­prised, hon­est­ly to see that sur­face so high as a met­ric because one of the things to me that I think is inter­est­ing is I’m not sure that there’s a real­ly con­sis­tent def­i­n­i­tion of what well­be­ing means and how com­pa­nies or HR prac­ti­tion­ers think about that. So I’m curi­ous even your reac­tion to well­be­ing hav­ing been ele­vat­ed so high in that research that we did.

Cas­san­dra (04:18):

Yeah, I love what you said about hav­ing a shared under­stand­ing, a def­i­n­i­tion around it, because well­be­ing can be the soft and squishy thing at one orga­ni­za­tion where it could be hard facts and heavy invest­ment at anoth­er orga­ni­za­tion. And so when I think about the spec­trum of well­be­ing, it goes from some­thing as basic as we pro­vide ben­e­fits to our employ­ees and the major things, the core things, the med­ical ben­e­fits, den­tal, vision, all the way to how can I pro­vide for you from a men­tal health stand­point, from a finan­cial health stand­point, even some­times from a com­mu­ni­ty health stand­point. And mean­ing how do we cre­ate engag­ing spaces for you to be able to col­lab­o­rate with your cowork­ers, be men­tored, be spon­sored at the orga­ni­za­tion. So I think when we say, well, what is a def­i­n­i­tion of well­be­ing? It real­ly should be more com­pre­hen­sive than just phys­i­cal health. And as long as we’re hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion that includes that, but then goes past that, I feel like we’re in the right space.

Jason (05:21):

Yeah. Well, and I think what’s real­ly inter­est­ing is I’ve delved into this myself in recent months. It’s real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing that in the work set­ting or the busi­ness set­ting, there real­ly does­n’t seem to be a con­sis­tent def­i­n­i­tion. I mean, I’ve talked to lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of HR lead­ers and HR exec­u­tives, and if you ask any one per­son, what basi­cal­ly hap­pens is well­be­ing means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. But when you get into the space of psy­chol­o­gy, which I think is impor­tant because we’re talk­ing about how peo­ple work, which is the name of the pod­cast here, it’s actu­al­ly much more sci­en­tif­ic. And so some­times what hap­pens is when we’re in the busi­ness set­ting, we say, well, these qual­i­ta­tive, these soft things, they’re nice to haves. They’re not need to haves. That’s the kind of a com­mon lan­guage that’s used. And what’s real­ly meant by that is, well, nice to haves don’t real­ly actu­al­ly mat­ter when it comes down to it, right?


Because nice to haves are just fluffy stuff. It does­n’t actu­al­ly impact the busi­ness out­comes in a mate­r­i­al way. And I think what’s actu­al­ly real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing by that is I’ve delved into this research that it could­n’t be fur­ther from the truth. That actu­al­ly, the ways in which we think about these qual­i­ta­tive mea­sures are actu­al­ly high­ly sci­en­tif­ic from a psy­cho­log­i­cal stand­point, these self-eval­u­at­ed, qual­i­ta­tive mea­sures of sat­is­fac­tion and hap­pi­ness and a sense of well­be­ing are actu­al­ly very mate­r­i­al when it comes to an employ­ee’s self-report­ed sense of these things. How that direct­ly impacts their pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, their hap­pi­ness, their abil­i­ty to be cre­ative in their work, all of these things that have very impor­tant sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness out­comes that I think you can begin to con­nect. And so I think that’s a real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing thing as we talk about the idea of well­be­ing and what is a good def­i­n­i­tion, how do we bring maybe some of these things into the busi­ness con­text that haven’t been part of the con­ver­sa­tion before?

Cas­san­dra (07:24):

And if you think about the way that a lot of younger work­ers, and I don’t mean nec­es­sar­i­ly just in age, but the amount of time that they spent in the work­force think about pur­pose. They want to be pur­pose-dri­ven at work. That is essen­tial to their well­be­ing and the way that we spend time in our work, whether it’s the hours that you think about the weeks, the years of it, that’s a way that you’re con­tribut­ing to soci­ety more sig­nif­i­cant­ly than almost any oth­er thing that you do in this life. And so if we’re think­ing about what gives peo­ple pur­pose and how does that show up for them, I think that’s an aspect of well­be­ing as well. Because if you feel pur­pose-dri­ven, that can actu­al­ly help you reframe how you think about how you’re con­tribut­ing, how you’re tak­ing care of your­self, how you’re invest­ing in the things that you’re doing at work and in your per­son­al life, which I love what you say is that’s a blunt. Work isn’t this thing that I just turn off, I go home and I com­plete­ly for­get the address of where I’ve just come from for those who still go into an office, but it’s the abil­i­ty for me to con­tribute to soci­ety, con­tribute to some­thing that makes me pas­sion­ate and excit­ed, and use skills that I just nat­u­ral­ly have and want to fur­ther con­di­tion and then go take those oppor­tu­ni­ties to go do oth­er things for myself.


So I think for me, what well­be­ing could be show­ing up for me as well as the employ­ees that I attend to is real­ly just mak­ing sure that I’m, again, giv­ing a breath of resources that allows each per­son to feel what they need to get their purpose.

Jason (09:04):

So Jor­dan and I have talked about this in pre­vi­ous episodes and I’m curi­ous what you think about it. How can employ­ees or just peo­ple in gen­er­al go about think­ing about this ques­tion of pur­pose? Because I do think it’s some­thing that comes up and I think some­times we kind of gloss over it real­ly quick­ly and we’re like, oh yeah, total­ly. Every­one should have a sense of pur­pose. But I think we real­ly have to kind of peel back the lay­ers on that. And so maybe in your own per­son­al expe­ri­ence or with peo­ple that you’ve worked with, how do you see the sense of pur­pose com­ing to life and what peo­ple do day-to-day?

Cas­san­dra (09:38):

Well, first I want to clar­i­fy what I believe it’s not. Pur­pose does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly equate to hap­pi­ness. And for some rea­son we’ve con­nect­ed those two things. And if I’m not hap­py at work, then I’m not pur­pose-filled at work. And I’m not say­ing that you should be unhap­py with that either. If bad things are hap­pen­ing in your work envi­ron­ment, call them out. Make it bet­ter, not just for your­self, but for peo­ple around you. But when I think about pur­pose, I think about what does it even mean to work? And a good exam­ple of that is if you go to the gym and work out for an hour, but you nev­er break a sweat sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, it’s as though you did­n’t work out, you’re not hav­ing the activ­i­ty to pro­duce sweat that can actu­al­ly result in a change in your body. You’ve done things but you haven’t actu­al­ly done work, you haven’t worked out. And so when I think about pur­pose, pur­pose means that I have a vision of some­thing that I want to achieve. I want to change the world. I want to sell this wid­get. I want to bring some­thing to the world that does not yet exist. And so there are going to be hard days in that there are going to be great days in that there are going to be mid­dling days where I’m like, I did a bunch of stuff, but I don’t know if it actually -

Jason (10:52):

Was it in line with -

Cas­san­dra (10:53):

Mean­ing­ful to my OKRs if you do that thing. And so I think when you can actu­al­ly chan­nel peo­ple into believ­ing that your pur­pose can be here every day, and let’s find a way in the work that you apply for and the job descrip­tion that you have, let’s see how your pur­pose can be ful­filled. That to me is the mag­ic ver­sus going, how can I make sure you’re always hap­py in every day of what you do? Yeah, I don’t think there’s any point in life, whether you’re high school or some­one who’s in retire­ment where they’re like, I feel hap­pi­ness through and through every day. But I think you can get sat­is­fac­tion from the chal­lenge and that your hap­pi­ness is the end result of always focus­ing on your purpose.

Jason (11:40):

And so you prob­a­bly don’t know this, but Jor­dan and I, and maybe two or three episodes pri­or to this one talked about these dif­fer­ent kinds of hap­pi­ness and ful­fill­ment. And so what you’re describ­ing is what we would con­sid­er to be hedo­nism essen­tial­ly is not real­ly hap­pi­ness that ful­fills or sus­tains. And so there is a kind of hap­pi­ness that is actu­al­ly root­ed in this sense of pur­pose and mean­ing. And I think the anal­o­gy of exer­cise is a good one, because exer­cise at its best is uncomfortable.

Cas­san­dra (12:14):

It is.

Jason (12:15):

Right, even painful. Because lit­er­al­ly what’s hap­pen­ing when you get stronger is you exer­cise to the point of exer­tion that your mus­cles tear and then they rebuild them­selves and they’re stronger as a result. And so that’s what’s hap­pen­ing. And I think anoth­er anal­o­gy that’s kind of fit­ting in the sense of pur­pose is where it’s not always com­fort­able is I like to think of it as a sense of adopt­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty. When we adopt respon­si­bil­i­ty for some­thing that can actu­al­ly be real­ly cen­tral to giv­ing us a sense of mean­ing and pur­pose. So a real­ly great exam­ple that I think you’ll res­onate with is with chil­dren, chil­dren can be one of the things that dri­ve you the most insane and mad that you’ll ever be, and at the same time give you the great­est sense of ful­fill­ment and mean­ing and pur­pose for anoth­er human being that you’re charged with rais­ing. And so it’s the respon­si­bil­i­ty of hav­ing this human being that you hope­ful­ly bring into the world to be anoth­er human being that can con­tribute pos­i­tive­ly to what’s going on out there. That I think gives us this sense of, Hey, it’s not just about me. It’s not just about being hap­py and like, oh, I feel good all the time, but that actu­al­ly there’s some dif­fi­cul­ty that comes with what that looks like.

Cas­san­dra (13:38):

And weath­er­ing it togeth­er. And I think that’s what is also an impor­tant aspect to that of col­lab­o­ra­tion. And maybe in pri­or decades, because I’m pret­ty young, we’ve gone into work envi­ron­ments where it was need to know infor­ma­tion. Your man­ag­er was just giv­ing you just enough infor­ma­tion for you to com­plete your job. So in some ways it was job secu­ri­ty, but also it lim­it­ed peo­ple from expand­ing and being able to con­tribute in the best way pos­si­ble because they could only make deci­sions based on the infor­ma­tion that they knew. And what I love about how the tech world, espe­cial­ly in the last decade has democ­ra­tized the way that we work, is that the more peo­ple that know infor­ma­tion and how your con­tri­bu­tions are actu­al­ly help­ing hit the bot­tom line of some­thing real­ly res­onates with peo­ple say­ing, Hey, I can actu­al­ly make an impact. I can have influ­ence in what I’m doing.


What I’m doing is not just a cog in the wheel, it actu­al­ly is a spoke in the wheel, and I want to do that more. Whether that’s sell­ing some­thing or being in the peo­ple team or being an engi­neer, all of these dif­fer­ent parts have to come togeth­er and no one is more impor­tant than the oth­er. That’s the thing that I think has shift­ed a lot. And so when we think about well­be­ing, we have to think about the diver­si­ty of that ecosys­tem of how do I sup­port so many peo­ple who are doing so many dif­fer­ent things, who are in dif­fer­ent points of their career. We’re talk­ing about five, almost six gen­er­a­tions in a work­place. We’re talk­ing about peo­ple who are par­ents, we’re talk­ing about peo­ple who may have dis­abil­i­ties that need accom­mo­da­tions. There’s so many dif­fer­ent visions and aspects to what it means to be a human being show­ing up to work. And so that’s the chal­lenge, but it’s a good chal­lenge to have. That means that we’re becom­ing more inclu­sive, we’re being more thought­ful. And so I think the hard work that’s ahead of us real­ly is to fig­ure out how can we con­tin­ue to find solu­tions and inno­vate. And human beings have always been resilient in find­ing dif­fer­ent ways of work­ing and get­ting bet­ter at it. If any­thing, we’re at a tip­ping point where we could be at the best that we’ve ever been. Peri­od. Why not pur­sue that?

Jason (16:01):

Yeah. And I think that’s a great well said because I do believe that if one thing’s true is over the course of human his­to­ry, we found a way to inno­vate and over­come obsta­cles and these things that have been put before us. And so I think it’s actu­al­ly a real­ly great segue into this research from this Deloitte study that we’ve been try­ing to get to.

Cas­san­dra (16:24):

We’re get­ting there, we’re get­ting there.

Jason (16:25):

Around well­be­ing. And I think what’s real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing about it is that they were pro­vid­ing a frame­work, unlike any that I’ve real­ly seen before. It’s some­thing that we’ve talked a lot about around here at Fringe. And so it was real­ly excit­ing when I came across it cause it was like, Hey, maybe this is some­thing that’s becom­ing a lit­tle bit more wide­spread. Maybe it catch­es on a lit­tle bit more in terms of how we think about it. And one of the things I thought was real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing is they refer to these aspects of well­be­ing in a way that they describe these work deter­mi­nants of well­be­ing. And so for those lis­ten­ing, they might be famil­iar with social deter­mi­nants of health. So the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion for some time has had a num­ber of met­rics, if you will, or kind of aspects of what they con­sid­er to be the social deter­mi­nants of health.


So for you as an indi­vid­ual with phys­i­cal health out­comes, what are the things that impact that from a stand­point of envi­ron­ment, socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus? There’s a num­ber of dif­fer­ent fac­tors. And so what Deloit­te’s done here is they’ve said, well, work is a real­ly impor­tant aspect of the human expe­ri­ence. And so they’re not dis­miss­ing sort of work out hand out­right as this work-life bal­ance work is just a bad thing. Inher­ent­ly. They’re actu­al­ly acknowl­edg­ing the fact that work is actu­al­ly a real­ly valu­able part of the human expe­ri­ence. And then they go on to describe what are these work deter­mi­nants? What are these things that they believe to be real­ly core to what dri­ves a pos­i­tive work expe­ri­ence or dri­ves well­be­ing with­in work? And so there’s three things that they lay out in this research, which again, we’ll post in the show notes here, but they describe them as one lead­er­ship behav­ior at all lev­els of the organization.


So from the C‑suite all the way down to the low­est peo­ple man­agers, any­one who’s respon­si­ble for lead­ing or man­ag­ing peo­ple, what do those lead­er­ship behav­iors look like? And so we actu­al­ly talked about that a lit­tle bit last episode, right around how do lead­ers impact what that work expe­ri­ence looks like for their peo­ple? How the orga­ni­za­tion and jobs are designed is the sec­ond aspect of that. And so I think there’s some inter­est­ing things there to talk about. And then ways of work­ing across orga­ni­za­tion­al lev­els. And so essen­tial­ly, how’s the orga­ni­za­tion set up in and of itself? And so again, I think we talked about that a lit­tle bit in the last episode, but that could play into some of these aspects around how are peo­ple enabled to work in dif­fer­ent projects per­haps that might be cross-func­tion­al, right? Yep. Is there that kind of flex­i­bil­i­ty across the way the orga­ni­za­tion’s set up that allows for peo­ple to expe­ri­ence these things in a dif­fer­ent kind of way?

Cas­san­dra (19:19):

And I think the orga­ni­za­tions that are going to rise to the top that are going to be the lead­ers with­in the next five to 10 years are the ones that are focus­ing on that right now. They’re invest­ing in that finan­cial­ly and they’re invest­ing in their peo­ple beyond some­times what the research will even show. And I think the research is almost not an after­thought, but back­ing up what peo­ple are actu­al­ly see­ing. Yes. When we think about qui­et quit­ting, which I just think is the way that peo­ple have always resist­ed work. I’m going to do less or I’m going to just do the amount that I’m paid to do. I’m not going to go above and beyond my job descrip­tion. I don’t see that as nec­es­sar­i­ly some­one being lazy or some­one just check­ing out. I see that also as a fail­ure on the com­pa­ny that I haven’t inspired you to find a dif­fer­ent way to go about it.


That might be, and you said some­thing real­ly impor­tant in our last con­ver­sa­tion, that some­times cer­tain jobs just have an arc. That’s it. Like either you’re going to love doing the exact same thing for the next 40 years, which there are cer­tain jobs that have to be there. I’ll even say some­thing as typ­i­cal as pay­roll. You need peo­ple who are excit­ed about mak­ing sure every­one gets paid on time. I get excit­ed when I get paid on time. So you want some­one who is com­fort­able being in a very sta­ble posi­tion but has growth oppor­tu­ni­ties. Maybe it’s, hey, you might take on pay­roll in a dif­fer­ent coun­try, or maybe you might learn about some­thing else, but your true func­tion in what you do for the com­pa­ny is being able to make sure that oth­er peo­ple can meet their bills and meet their finan­cial com­mit­ments. And so when we’re think­ing about how we struc­ture work, I think well­be­ing has to now be a com­po­nent. That was­n’t even a thought process. It was just, let me take 12 or 13 tasks, throw them all togeth­er, slap a title on this and go get some­one to come do this work.

Jason (21:13):

Yeah. Well, and I think one of the things that is spot on about what you’re say­ing is the notion that well­be­ing isn’t sim­ply about cost sav­ing mea­sures. And so I think there’s been a sense maybe over the last two decades or so, that well­be­ing has been real­ly just about cost sav­ing mea­sures. Can we reduce claims costs? Can we do things that maybe are at worst manip­u­la­tive for employ­ees to try and save mon­ey. At best, maybe in their inter­ests, but still kind of dri­ven by a prof­it motive that aren’t real­ly about the sense of what the arti­cle describes as human sus­tain­abil­i­ty. And I think what we would describe here at Fringe is human flour­ish­ing, what are we aim­ing for? Are we aim­ing for a bot­tom line busi­ness out­come or are we aim­ing for a good human out­come for the indi­vid­ual? For com­mu­ni­ties? For soci­ety? And that’s a big difference.


If we’re think­ing about pro­mot­ing the well­be­ing of work­ers of the orga­ni­za­tion of soci­ety, then it does­n’t just come down to, Hey, can we reduce med­ical claims by help­ing peo­ple have bet­ter heart health? It’s a good thing. Of course, every­one, we would want peo­ple to have bet­ter health in that way. But at the same time, is that sole­ly the aim or do we just desire for peo­ple to flour­ish? And can those things be ori­ent­ed in such a way that humans desire for them­selves to flour­ish, that we’re not forc­ing these things upon peo­ple, but that mean­ing and pur­pose actu­al­ly comes from the adop­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ty, both at the indi­vid­ual lev­el, the com­mu­ni­ty lev­el, the soci­etal level.

Cas­san­dra (23:07):

You tie that togeth­er so beau­ti­ful­ly. I want to take a minute to say that, but also I think mul­ti­ple things can be true at the same time. So just expound­ing on what you’re say­ing, there is noth­ing wrong in sav­ing mon­ey because peo­ple are catch­ing can­cer at stage one and not stage four. Right? That is super impor­tant because it, let’s be hon­est, it saves mon­ey on a claims basis, but also we’re sav­ing lives. And so one of the things that I’ve always been an advo­cate of is ben­e­fits equi­ty. And equi­ty to me does­n’t mean just hav­ing the abil­i­ty to have equal out­comes. It’s real­ly mak­ing sure that there are facets that we’re mak­ing sure we address. So that way there’s peo­ple who are hav­ing bet­ter lives, tru­ly just bet­ter lives. Because if we have the resources, if we’re A) in the most edu­cat­ed soci­ety glob­al­ly we’ve ever been as a human race, why aren’t we doing bet­ter for more peo­ple? And so when I think about what an employ­er owes to an employ­ee, what the val­ue propo­si­tion is of you work­ing for com­pa­ny A ver­sus com­pa­ny B, I want the con­ver­sa­tion to cen­ter around, I want your life to be bet­ter after work­ing for me.


That can be in so many dif­fer­ent ways, but well­be­ing has to now be part of the conversation.

Jason (24:33):

Yeah, I agree. Total­ly. And I think what’s inter­est­ing, and even a chal­lenge in that is it’s a two-way street, right? Because I think com­pa­nies do have a respon­si­bil­i­ty if they are aim­ing for human flour­ish­ing. And that’s why we talk about this so much is if they’re aim­ing for the good of human beings in soci­ety to do good by their employ­ees, it can’t be sim­ply prof­it dri­ven motives. And at the same time, indi­vid­u­als have a respon­si­bil­i­ty as well. So when we talk about mean­ing and pur­pose, well, one of the things that’s real­ly cen­tral to the notion of mean­ing and pur­pose is, well, I, as a man­ag­er, let’s say, I can’t define that for you. I can’t tell you what your mean­ing and pur­pose should be. And so it actu­al­ly takes some work on your part as an indi­vid­ual to sit down and actu­al­ly think about what are the things that are most impor­tant in my life?


How’s the work that I’m doing con­nect­ed to that? But what’s actu­al­ly real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing about that is the research shows that when peo­ple actu­al­ly take time to lay out these val­ue hier­ar­chies as we might call them, and real­ly say like, Hey, what are the things I care most about? What are the val­ues that are most impor­tant to me as an indi­vid­ual that it actu­al­ly brings into their work set­ting those things that are most impor­tant to them? And so all of a sud­den work that maybe seemed real­ly triv­ial before can actu­al­ly take on a dif­fer­ent kind of pur­pose and mean­ing, because all of a sud­den it’s like, Hey, well, I know why I’m going about doing this work, or maybe this work is a means to an end. Maybe I don’t actu­al­ly love this work in and of itself. It’s not always just total fun and hap­pi­ness, but there’s some­thing more mean­ing­ful about the rea­son that I’m apply­ing myself to this. And because I’ve tak­en some time to artic­u­late for myself indi­vid­u­al­ly what those val­ues are, what those things are that I’m moti­vat­ed by, now all of a sud­den I can bring that into my work set­ting. And as an employ­er, I can’t do that for you. That takes some work on your part as well.

Cas­san­dra (26:37):

Jason, every job I’ve ever had has been so ful­fill­ing. I’m always shocked that I get a new one. If that were true, we would­n’t even need lead­er­ship books because all man­agers were just being nat­ur­al born lead­ers who could not only be a coach, but also just get work done through oth­er peo­ple. That is the ide­al stage. Now let’s look at real­i­ty and see how we can meet some­where in the mid­dle. I think it’s also being able to say, as a leader, you need to do more for your­self. You need to be full self-care, do the things that you need to do to be able to pour out to oth­er peo­ple. And some­times we for­get that. And so I think man­ag­ing oth­er peo­ple while try­ing to also man­age up while also try­ing to con­tribute is a tri­fec­ta of work that some­times we just ignore and just expect peo­ple to go from, I was an employ­ee, now I’m man­ag­ing peo­ple, but I have expec­ta­tions that are way above what it took to be able to be a good employ­ee and good indi­vid­ual con­trib­u­tor. So I think a well­be­ing pro­gram that’s real­ly well-tuned will include some­thing that is a focus and maybe even some­thing dif­fer­ent for peo­ple who man­age oth­er peo­ple with­in the orga­ni­za­tion. And I think that’s a real­ly impor­tant piece.

Jason (28:01):

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. So I want to talk a lit­tle bit about what this arti­cle kind of puts for­ward, because I think there’s some help­ful things, and I think there’s actu­al­ly some things that in my mind fall a lit­tle bit short of what might be use­ful to us as we think about maybe a more con­sis­tent frame­work of well­be­ing, let’s say. And so they talk about what they call a well­be­ing direc­tion. How do we start to put this into action in a more mean­ing­ful way? And so one of the ways they say we should be doing this is talk­ing about shift­ing from lega­cy mind­sets of well­be­ing. And so I think that’s real­ly help­ful. The par­a­digm that they use I think is extreme­ly valu­able. And so work is a deter­mi­nant of well­be­ing. It’s sort of dis­pelling the sense of work-life bal­ance with, we’ve talked about a bunch into work-life inte­gra­tion per­haps, but work being an actu­al mean­ing­ful part of our life experience.


And then well­be­ing being a shared respon­si­bil­i­ty, which is sort of exact­ly what we were just talk­ing about, that it’s one of those both-and sce­nar­ios. It’s both the indi­vid­u­al’s respon­si­bil­i­ty and the employ­er’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to look at well­be­ing and say, Hey, we own parts of this. It’s not one or the oth­er. And then orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­tures, which I do think falls more on the com­pa­ny to help lay out how do we as an orga­ni­za­tion design the way in which peo­ple can go about the work that they do, and that being a real­ly crit­i­cal piece to how we do it. But one of the things that I thought was real­ly inter­est­ing is they talked about the mea­sure­ment of well­be­ing, but real­ly did­n’t, in my view, offer any­thing sub­stan­tive as it relates to how should we be mea­sur­ing well­be­ing. And I think you being in the space as long as you have and kind of worked on ben­e­fits and well­be­ing ini­tia­tives. I’m curi­ous to talk about this with you. How or how should we be think­ing about the mea­sure­ment of well­be­ing in more effec­tive ways, perhaps?

Cas­san­dra (30:21):

Yeah, I think there’s a cou­ple of ways that you can find met­rics that make sense for your orga­ni­za­tion, but this is a super­mar­ket method that I would rec­om­mend. So take what you need, leave what don’t. One is just pure claims expe­ri­ence. So for those who may go, what are you talk­ing about when it comes to claims, when you’re look­ing at your med­ical infor­ma­tion, you get a sum­ma­ry very high lev­el about what are the top things that peo­ple are going to the doc­tor for when they’re using your med­ical insur­ance. It may not be by name, but maybe for some rea­son there’s a lot of peo­ple at your orga­ni­za­tion who have back prob­lems. They’re sit­ting around a lot, they’re not get­ting enough exer­cise, and maybe that’s some­thing that you need to do an ergonom­ic pro­gram around. And this is where it goes back to the claims data of like, oh, you’re just try­ing to get me to be a bet­ter work­er, so I show up in my seat every day.


Yeah, that’s one com­po­nent of it, but also we want to alle­vi­ate your back pain, right? That’s help­ful. One of the met­rics that I actu­al­ly dis­cov­ered work­ing in leave man­age­ment was the ratio of peo­ple who were going out on leave and how many women were com­ing back to work and how many women were actu­al­ly being pro­mot­ed into lead­er­ship posi­tions. So when you think about this dearth of diver­si­ty at the upper ech­e­lons of man­age­ment, some­times you can trace it back to those lev­els of well­be­ing. So if I know that I’m going out and just iso­lat­ing this to have a baby, but I don’t have pro­grams that allow me to bond with my baby, I may need more time when I come back. I don’t have any sup­port sys­tems for what I may need when it comes to flex­i­bil­i­ty, there’s a high­er chance that I may be leav­ing the organization.


So I think one met­ric of well­be­ing could be fol­low­ing par­ents, it could be moms, dads, or how­ev­er you may iden­ti­fy how many peo­ple are com­ing back from leave and how long are they say­ing are they stay­ing for six months? Are they stay­ing for a year? Are they stay­ing for two years? Just a longevi­ty thing. And then the sec­ond thing that you can mea­sure is, are these peo­ple con­tin­u­ing to rise with­in the orga­ni­za­tion? And so when you think about well­be­ing, that actu­al­ly can lend itself to diver­si­ty, equi­ty, inclu­sion, and belong­ing strate­gies that we’re think­ing about. And to me, what’s beau­ti­ful about being able to go into that space is just show­ing that, like you said, life and work are all inte­grat­ed. Any­time we try to seg­ment them out, that’s where things start to break down because we’re try­ing to see things in a silo. But if we’re able to see that by increas­ing well­be­ing, by mak­ing sure that we have pro­grams that sup­port par­ents or sup­port women or sup­port peo­ple who iden­ti­fy as LGBTQ, that not only helps that employ­ee and the orga­ni­za­tion and well­be­ing fac­tors, but that also lends itself to increas­ing diver­si­ty and the feel­ing of inclu­sion and belong­ing in your work­place, which also helps your bot­tom line.


So it can be a win and a win and a win. And I’m not say­ing these things are all easy, but we have to con­tin­u­ous­ly push our­selves to find ways to do that. One oth­er thing in the study that I found was fas­ci­nat­ing was fac­tors that actu­al­ly can be a detri­ment to your well­be­ing, could be micro­man­age­ment, which is a very rea­son­able thing, but also under­man­age­ment, that peo­ple are look­ing for more direc­tion in how their careers evolve. And I agree with you com­plete­ly that you have to also want to own your career. No one can tell you exact­ly what you’re going to do or what will ful­fill you from a pur­pose stand­point. But if you’re own­ing your career and there’s no one to help guide you, you’re going to lose some foot­ing there too. So I think that’s an impor­tant com­po­nent to com­pound on what you’re say­ing about it’s this rela­tion­ship of both employ­er and employ­ee com­ing togeth­er to evolve the idea of wellbeing.

Jason (34:17):

Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I’ve talked to so many HR lead­ers and exec­u­tives, and this ques­tion of well­be­ing is one that just feels so neb­u­lous, and it’s one that I’m real­ly pas­sion­ate and excit­ed and kind of moti­vat­ed to help bring maybe some more clar­i­ty to. And I think one of the dis­con­nects is when I talk to HR peo­ple espe­cial­ly, there’s a lot of head nod­ding. It’s like, yeah, we total­ly get it. It all makes per­fect sense. But I think there’s still a dis­con­nect at the exec­u­tive lev­el with peo­ple run­ning orga­ni­za­tions often­times that say, well, these are still qual­i­ta­tive things. At the end of the day, they’re nice to haves, which we’ve talked about a lit­tle bit. And how much bear­ing do they real­ly have on get­ting busi­ness done? Right? And I think what we want to put forth is, well, it could­n’t be more important.


It lit­er­al­ly could not be more impor­tant. These things that feel qual­i­ta­tive, the sci­ence itself is point­ing to the fact that these self-report­ed mea­sures of so-called qual­i­ta­tive data are actu­al­ly real­ly core and valid mea­sures of an employ­ee’s expe­ri­ence to the degree that it will impact their sat­is­fac­tion, their hap­pi­ness, yes, their pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. I mean, all of these things that you were talk­ing about around the sense of inclu­sion and belong­ing at an orga­ni­za­tion. And so I think one of the things that’s real­ly miss­ing is con­nect­ing the dots, right? Between the so-called qual­i­ta­tive mea­sures and the actu­al busi­ness out­comes because they are con­nect­ed. It just might be one or two degrees removed, and we’re not accus­tomed to talk­ing about these things in a busi­ness set­ting. But I would say in the con­text of psy­chol­o­gists, for exam­ple, they’ve been talk­ing about these things for over 30 years. I mean, I’ve been astound­ed by the papers I’ve read, which have been a num­ber of them up to this point where these stud­ies show one after anoth­er that, I mean, even the sim­plest things that increase some­body’s pos­i­tive affect, which is a psy­cho­log­i­cal term that just refers to some­body’s very basic sense of hap­pi­ness at a real­ly base lev­el, we’re not talk­ing about sense of mean­ing and purpose.


We’re just talk­ing about like, oh man, I got a lit­tle pos­i­tive lift from a gift that I received. The impact that alone has on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty with­in the con­text of a day is so pow­er­ful that I can’t imag­ine. I don’t under­stand, I guess why we’re not talk­ing about this more than we are cur­rent­ly. And I think some­one else I think about a lot is Mar­cus Buck­ing­ham and some of the research that he’s done around we’re extreme­ly poor eval­u­a­tors of oth­ers, but we’re extreme­ly good eval­u­a­tors of our own expe­ri­ence, right? And so our own expe­ri­ence of what is hap­pen­ing in an orga­ni­za­tion is extreme­ly valid, and we need to take that into con­sid­er­a­tion as peo­ple that work with peo­ple that run orga­ni­za­tions, that what peo­ple are telling us is going on. We can’t just dis­miss it out­right that we need to take those things into account as we’re think­ing about design­ing the work expe­ri­ence for people.

Cas­san­dra (37:45):

So let’s just give it to peo­ple in three steps, right? Yeah, I think every­thing that you’ve brought for­ward, espe­cial­ly from the study, is impor­tant for peo­ple to know and to think about. But I don’t want them to feel pow­er­less as to like, okay, well, I’m a man­ag­er here. I may not be in HR. I may be a first time peo­ple leader. I don’t even know how to climb this moun­tain. So some of the things that I would rec­om­mend, and I’d love to hear your thoughts too around this would be to first, start with your­self. What is your pur­pose? How do you ful­filled at work? What is the thing that gets you up out of bed and makes you feel like not only am I excit­ed about the work that I do here, but I’m excit­ed about what that means and what my next step could look like?


Because if you can find that path for your­self at the orga­ni­za­tion that you’re at, then you can start to help oth­er peo­ple find that too. And so I think start­ing with your­self is a great way to get into that. And then talk­ing about, just like you said, well­be­ing in the sense of how can I mea­sure it for my peo­ple? If I’ve had some­one who’s left the orga­ni­za­tion, do I have access to their exit inter­view? I actu­al­ly think we have a lot of the data points already just sit­ting with­in dis­parate sys­tems. And it’s time for some­one to be able to bring that togeth­er, pull your exit inter­views, even pull your newest peo­ple in. Why did you choose to apply to our orga­ni­za­tion? Why did you choose to accept an offer from our orga­ni­za­tion? Yeah, what did I promise you to get you here? And how can I make sure we make good on that promise?


I real­ly don’t think peo­ple wake up and go, I just don’t want to be a good man­ag­er today. I don’t want to be a good employ­er today. I don’t think that hap­pens. I think there’s things that fall through the gaps. I think there’s lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I think lack of col­lab­o­ra­tion that leads us to not ful­fill­ing that. And so the well­be­ing dis­cus­sion is some­thing that gets us back into that point of if we focus on flour­ish­ing peo­ple, then we can con­tin­ue this hon­est­ly, wave of good good­ness that actu­al­ly improves prof­it. Yeah, I tru­ly believe that.

Jason (39:57):

Yeah, I agree. And I think some­thing that you put for­ward is well said, which is for those of us that are respon­si­ble for help­ing to lead peo­ple in our orga­ni­za­tions, there’s a respon­si­bil­i­ty to lead from the front and not just do, as I say, but as I’ve done. I mean, the eas­i­est lessons to pass on are those that we’ve learned our­selves. And so I think as we adopt that respon­si­bil­i­ty and take on those things our­selves and take respon­si­bil­i­ty for help­ing define our own sense of pur­pose and mean­ing, it’s going to be a whole lot eas­i­er and more pow­er­ful and com­pelling to share that with the peo­ple that we work with and lead. So I think that’s very well said. And so this is a great place to wrap up this conversation.

Cas­san­dra (40:45):


Jason (40:45):

Already. Yes, I know. And so we’re going to con­tin­ue this theme, I think. Well­be­ing and this sense of how that plays into our work expe­ri­ence is real­ly impor­tant to us. And we’re think­ing about that a lot here at Fringe. And so, Cas­san­dra, thank you for join­ing us. Yeah, this is a joy. These pod­cast episodes have been great hav­ing you a part of the con­ver­sa­tion here. And thank you every­one for lis­ten­ing. We’ll see you next time.

Request demo

Subscribe to the Fringe newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.