Technically People
Technically People

Episode · 1 month ago

Jobber’s Unique Programming for Employee Wellness


At Canada-based Jobber, the coaching and development team historically supported employees’ professional development. But as Chief People Officer Sara Cooper explains: Career development is one of many ways employees can grow.  

That became eminently clear as Jobber employees were forced to contend with Covid’s challenges. They had less appetite for career development and a greater need for wellness support, so the coaching team pivoted to meet that need. 

One of the company’s most unique approaches is its certified mental health support team, which Jobber doubled since the pandemic. Trained not to offer therapy but to connect people to resources, the volunteer employee team was built on the premise that peers are more likely to open up to another peer than a manager or executive. 

Other programs and policies include job-protected leaves and an option for employees to shift to part time if needed, returning when ready. An “every other week” schedule supports parents who split child custody with a former partner. 

“We wanted to ensure that people knew that their health, wellness and families came first,” says Cooper. “And we didn't want people worried that taking time to focus on themselves and their families was going to put their roles at risk.”

Episode Highlights:

  • The impact of Jobber’s certified mental health supporter team 
  • Talk points for leaders to broach mental health with employees 
  • Addressing root causes before employees need to tap mental health insurance 
  • Why mental health is not a perk
  • The lesson Jobber learned in devising its return-to-office plan 
  • Accepting that creating return-to-office plans is a “figure it out together” process  

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Welcome to technically people acommunity conversation by and for workplace futurists brought to you bythe tech recruitment platform built in the podcast features, insights fromleaders, thinkers and doers on the vanguard, building human centeredworkplaces of the future along the way you'll hear concepts that will stop youin your tracks, concepts that inspire you to ask yourself. What's the mostfuture forward way to approach my people leadership, we all know thefuture of work isn't waiting around. So, let's get on with the show. I every one welcome to the show. Thisis technically people. I am Tiffany Myers here with Sara Cooper. She isthe chief people officer at Jobber, which is a job tracking and CMSsolution for home service businesses, she's based in Canada and so is Jobber,and Sara is nothing if not people centric she and her team have put inplace some really innovative, fresh programs to support her people'swellness and mental health. So today, she's going to share some of theseprograms, not to mention her philosophy about supporting employee wellness andyou are going to walk away listeners inspired to get creative aboutsupporting your people's mental health and wellness. So Sara Welcome we're sohappy to have you? Oh thank you so much for having me. I was so excited to getthe invite. Let's start off with the story that that you told me of howjobber increased its focus on mental health and wellness in an interestingway, at least in part. It's stemmed from your needing, because of Ovid toredefine what develop it meant means. So I think jobber has always beensupportive of re of our employees overall, well being especially whenmental health plays into that, because it is such a big piece of overallwellbeing, but certainly once ovid hit. We quickly understood it needed to beeven more of a priority and just to provide a little bit of context, or youspeak about development. We have a coaching and development team and theirsole purpose is to support the professional development of our people.Now I use the word to support very deliberately, because although weprovide the infrastructure and the resources, we also believe it's anindividual's responsibility to drive their own development in partnershipwith their people leader. And that's because we believe professionaldevelopment is a choice. So there are going to be times in a person's lifewhere they are very focused on moving their career forward or developingtheir skill set, and we want to be able to support them in doing that. Butthere's also going to be times when they're really happy where they are,and they just want to perform really well in the world that they're in andfocus on. Other things focus on their family focus on hobbies, whatever it is.That needs to be okay as well, and what we quickly saw during Ovid is that forthe most part, a person's ability to focus on professional developmentreally went by the wayside, and obviously, understandably so we weredealing with a global pandemic and everybody had very different situationsat home to handle. So the request that came into the coaching and developmentteam became less about. How do I develop in this area, or how do Ibetter my skill set and more about how can I balance my work and my kids on mylearning? How do I work effectively from my kitchen counter and then from apeople leaders P perspective? How do I support the individuals on my team whoare struggling when I'm also struggling? How do I balance that, and so theentire people tame, but more specifically, the coaching anddevelopment part of the people team really had to shift gears, and so weput together a ton of resources on these topics, and certainly our coach,who I mean, I will say, is an aside all Er coaching conversations areconfidential, but what they do is they bubble up themes to me so that I cankeep track of kind of the temperature of the organization and our coach juststarted identifying that those topics were coming up in coaching sessions aswell. So what we started to realize is...

...we needed to think about development ina much more holistic way, developing the whole person and really meetingthem where they, where they are today versus, where they're hoping to be amonth from now or six months for an hour a year from now so holisticdevelopment tell me how you define that politic. Development is really aboutunderstanding that you can't just focus on professional development. A personbrings their whole self into work, and we don't know. What's going on outsideof the office I mean now during Ovid. We have a better idea because we've allseen the inside of each other's homes, but, frankly, there's a ton ofdifferent things that can be impacting somebody's ability to either develop orperform at the level that they want to. So what we want to do is really try tofigure out. How can we support that person from the very beginning of theirjourney and help them solve for the things in their personal lives so thatthey can perform at that level that they want to professional ate? Sosometimes, when we take our coaching to a more personal level, we start todiscover some of the root causes that may actually be holding somebody backand if we are able to address or help not, we won't address it, but we helpthe person to address it. Then they are able to free up that brain space againto really allow them to be the best that they can be, whether that's intheir personal lives or their professional lives. But again it'sreally trying to help the whole person, which is where the focus now isstarting to trend for US yeah, and I love to what you said when we lastspoke, which is just how how great your medical and Mental Health Servicecoverage is. But you also said, but wouldn't it be great if we couldaddress those root causes before people actually got to the place where theyneeded that support. So let's shift gears a little bit and talk aboutstigma, so I have a stat from a two thousand and twenty survey by Mastrohealth. Sixty three percent of employees struggled with a mentalhealth condition. Forty two percent said that it had a significant impacton their ability to do their jobs. That being said, only half of those peoplewere comfortable, bringing it up to their managers. So absolutely so tellme how a job or your overcoming employees, fear of being stigmatizedyeah. I think we come at this in a couple of different directions, so thefirst one is support from a leadership perspective, so we help and support ourpeople leaders with talking points to ensure that they are comfortablebroaching these topics with their direct reports. So often time is justthe manager asking the question and opening the door is the first step toreducing any of the stigma. There's a great way to do this, which is simplyjust saying: How are you and then saying? No, but really, how are you andthat, because the first time somebody asked how you are, you probably justsay fine right, so really allowing for that person to to give you the truthbehind what's happening for them. I think the other thing that has helpedus a lot is we actually have what we call mental health supporters at jobberand the reason we created this team was. We noticed that employees tend to turnto a colleague before seeking help from a people leader or someone else. Soit's a group of cross functional employees so employs across theorganization and they are actually certified as mental health crisissupporters and to be clear, their role is not therapy, but what it is it's areally safe, listening ear and they are able to connect their colleagues to theright supports and ensure that they are directed to the help that they need,and so they have a very deep understanding of all the programs andsupports that we actually offer and are able to tell people you know which onesthey may want to take advantage of, and and certainly for us. I think it was areally good idea to double the team during the pandemic, because of justthe additional stress that most people were going to. What we wanted to ensurewas that our volunteers and, of course this is a volunteer role that thosefolks weren't being overloaded and then...

...overstressed themselves as well, and sothey have definitely been quite busy. Also, just has sure sure, just I mean-and you can say the same- about people, leaders who have been struggling toimplement say just tap of my mind, remote or hybrid plans, but they'realso finding that supporting mental health and wellness has really become ahuge burden. I was really struck by the idea of talk points that you giveleaders. Do you have any other examples? I think it's about how you approach aconversation, so I will say: We've always taken a human center to approach,so that hasn't changed, but I think the deeper insight that we've gainedthrough the pandemic into what is going on in everybody's home and how that mayimpact their ability to perform. That's actually been a really amazing gift forus, because we have been able to think about how do we want to change theconversations we're having? How can we come at conversations for a place ofempathy and curiosity, and how can we make that the default so just toprovide an example if a people leader is dealing with a performance concernphrasing? The question, as is there something going on outside of work thatyou want to share or what's impacting your ability to perform at your bestright now that changes the tone of the conversation right. So if you'reaproaching it as why aren't you performing? Why didn't this get done?It becomes very adversarial versus those. Two questions really change thetone. It allows for a partnership between the leader and the employee andnow their partners in managing the issue, rather than the making theemploye feel that they're on their own, and they just got to like figure thisout by themselves. So I think that piece is a really good example of howthe empathy that's coming out of the pandemic can really drive a more humancentre approach for every company. So I I think the leaders who are tuning intoday would love to hear any more examples you might have of. I eithertalk points or just general approaches that you recommend, or even somecoaching around it. I think. Probably the biggest thing we can say to folksis what we actually need to do as leadersis normalized and lead by example, right so being vulnerable with your teamyourself and letting them know that hey. This is something that I have certainlybeen challenged by recently. Maybe it's the same, for you is something that hasalso been really helpful and then sometimes it's not even about theconversation right. It's about the just the signals that you're giving off alot of our leadership, our parents. So from the beginning of the pandemic, wesaw kids and laps and kids behind us and kids all over the place, and Ithink just that alone they didn't have to sayanything, but it showed a really good example like that. This was okay thatyou didn't have to try to compartmentalize what you were goingthrough, that this was just going to be part of how we operate, and I thinkthat alone has left it as a really safe space for people to start bringingtheir whole selves to work. Now you mentioned parents and for those of usin the US, we find this idea of what you're doing for working parents whoface the set of really unique pressures, and I would say mothers in particular,but of course also dads that you've been able to address in a reallyinnovative way. So so tell us about that sure. So we've done a couple ofthings. So some things we've done for the entire company, somethingspecifically for parents, not I'll, just I'll go through a couple of them.So one thing we did right off the bat- and this was available to everybody-was to introduce part time hours so that anybody who was strugglingregardless of the reason they were able to reduce their hours and obviously theexpected output for their role as well. So they could balance their work andtheir family life. So we had quite a few parents. Take us up on that rightout of the gate and then when they were ready to come back up to full time,they were able to do so, and sometimes it was just a matter of transitioningand figuring out that whole home...

...schooling thing very specifically toparents and still on that same part time hours vein. We actually alsointroduced in every other week schedule. So if a parent for, for example, wassplitting custody with a former partner, they would be able to work full timeone week and take off the next week and have that schedule for themselves. Sothey were able to focus on their CH, their children or child and do homeschooling and all of that and then the final thing that we did and again thiswas open to everybody, but certainly we saw probably more parents than not takeadvantage of it. Is We introduce job protected, leaves for folks. So we'reagain, regardless of why you were struggling, we wanted to ensure thatpeople knew that their health and their wellness and their families came firstand we didn't want people worried that taking time to focus on themselves andtheir families was going to put their roles at risk at their jobs at risk.Because that's again, that's one more stress Er, so we introduce these jobprotected, leaves people could take up to three months off and not have toworry about having a job to come back to when they were ready. It just beaksthe flexibility, and we know today that flexibility is not just something at acandidate or an employee prefers. But it's a demand. It's a demand, and Ithink to overall jobber has made flexibility in terms of your workarrangement overall, in that people can come into the office as little or asoften as they like, they can work remotely as little or as often as theylike. I know you had been an interesting lesson learned in terms ofwhat you first rolled out versus where you are today, which is full full onflexibility. Hybrid model, can you share that story yeah? Absolutely it'sso funny, because sometimes things sound really good on paper, and thenyou roll the bed and you're like Oh, what were we thinking, but thatactually has to be okay right, like we in the people team at Aber, we take avery iter inter iterative approach to everything we do and we listen to a tonof feedback which I think is key, but to go to your questions so when beforeOvid we were actually a fully in office environment. If you worked a job or youeither worked in our Toronto Office or Edmonton Office. Now, of course,through Ovid, we have really discovered the joys and the challenges of remoteworking. But to your point, what people want is flexibility, so we decided thatwhen our office is reopen and right now we're targeting September for that wewill be going to hybrid, and when we were developing our hybrid approach, wedid a lot of focus groups. We did a lot of one on one conversations with peopleand we found that one of the things that people were most concerned aboutwas coming into an office that was empty because one of the reasons youcome into that office is the social ability of it right. So what we thoughtwe would do is take an approach where we would classify people as either inoffice or remote, and if you were going to be an in office employee, you had tobe in a minimum of four days a week. If you were going to be a remote employee,you could come into the office up to five days a month if you so desired, oryou could be always remote t m, and we thought that would really address theneed to have a critical mass of individuals in the office at any onetime to have that kind of that buzz and that atmosphere. And then we put out asurvey and to see what people thought of this approach and, to our surprise, a whole lot. Morepeople actually were like no I'm going to be remote now and just come in maybeone day a week or a couple days a month, because I don't actually want to haveto be in the office four days, and so we tried something different which wasokay. Let's try full hybrid, you choose how often you want to come into theoffice. You choose how often you want to stay at home and then, when we putthat survey out and we've just recently done that the response was far greater,more people coming into the office because they were going to be able tochoose the amount of days, and so what we're actually seeing is that by tryingto dictate the number of days, we were actually decreasing our capability toprovide that that bus in that environment that everybody was lookingfor by providing more freedom, we actually, we will actually probablyhave more people in the office than we would have otherwise yeah. So it wasabout over engineering. The plan, which..., I think, a good hit file for peopleto know that that they should have walk around, avoid that not fall into theother thing too, is that there's just no guide book for this, and so the idea of first of all being awarethat this going to be iterative that there's going to be some failures andsome lessons learned, but then, on top of it just making sure to communicatethe what and why of the decisions that you're making yeah absolutely. I thinkit's really important to be upfront with folks right, so we have actuallygone to the company in town halls in stand. UPS and have said: Look thiscoming year once we open our doors again, this is going to be a year ofexperimentation. We are definitely going to get things wrong, but that'sokay, because we are going to learn as a group and we will figure it out as agroup and as long as we all go into the year with again that curiosity, ratherthan that feeling of wanting to block any change that comes or or beingresistant to change, I think we're all going to get through it together and toyour point. There is no playbook, we are all learning as we go and that justhas to be okay and people. I think you've almost need to have fun with it,because we're all going to learn a ton this year and that's really exciting aswell. I want to share a piece of research. This is from a two thousandand twenty one mckenzie report, so very recent, and that report found thatseventy percent of companies say they plan to start continuer expand theirmental health benefits. So seventy percent- a nice majority. Fifteenpercent, however, said they are going to stop providing support altogether.They cited the cost. These are costly initiatives that it's very complex tomanage these resources and lastly, he plays just were not using the resourcesthat were provided as they had anticipated. So what would you say to acompany that has that hesitation to continue offering the support and orreally, how do you ensure that employees do in fact use the resourcesyou offer yeah? It's a good question. I thinkit's some of this goes to how a company is framing their mental health,supports right. So a jobber. We don't view mental health is a perk, so it'snot something we just offer as part of our benefit or part of our compensationpackage. Instead, it's really a key to our organizational performance and- andit's a lot of it's about creating psychologically safe culture whenyou're at a company that is growing and going through a lot of change, andcertainly the pandemic was one big change, allowing folks to feel thatthey are psychologically safe and are able to navigate those changes in a waythat still helps them protect their own mental health while being acontributing member of the company is super important, but putting that aside,I will say in terms of employees opting in yes, it's a it's absolutely up to anemployee to often to mental wellness, supports we're never going to forceanybody to do that. We just believe that it's our duty as an employer toremove potential barriers to that, and so that that's the approach that we'vetaken at jobber yeah, I think that's very interesting, and the role thatyou're taking is is important because it really is a fine line if you'regoing to start mandating that people often so removing barriers, I think, isthe key. But I know you have a very interesting take on whether to measureor how to measure the success of your mental health programs, and how do weknow people are actually benefiting, so tell us a little more sure I mean. So.If you want to measure, there's certainly ways that you can measureright. So you can look at retention rates. You can look at time off. Youcan look at different performance metrics for individuals that you mayhave already in your company, and certainly you can work with yourbenefits provider to get a anonymous...

...use usage statistics. All of those aregreat and can help you understand what utilization looks like, but I wouldalso put forward that perhaps it's not about measuring the Roy on theseprograms from a monetary perspective. You know we put these programs in placebecause it is the right thing to do for our employees and if you invest in yourpeople, they are going to invest in you as a company, and so that for us, iswhat drives our investment in the program. So, regardless of the useusage statistics, we were always going to have these programs, because thepeople that most need to take advantage of them will- and those are the peoplethat it's going to impact, and hopefully those are the people that weare going to be able to retain over the long term. We bring our whole selves towork whether we choose to show those wholesales all the time or not we'rethere, and all of these things impact how we're able to perform both hisemployees, but also how we're able to show up just as human beings, becausewe are all human beings so putting these things in place. For us, it wasjust the right thing to do and we are very proud and happy to continue to doit and hopefully build on it as well yeah great, a great model for the restof us. So I would love at this point to move into asegment that we we call the two minute take away. Sara and love for you toshare a few things that you really want listeners to understand, base off ofour conversation for sure. So exciting, I think the first one is reallyapproaching conversations with folks on the team from a coaching perspectiveand when I say a coaching perspective, I mean like you having that curiousmindset asking questions rather than making statements- and I think Imentioned earlier really partnering with your employees to figure thingsout rather than making the employee feel like they are in this bythemselves. I think we move forward faster together, so I think that's oneof the big ones making it okay to ask the question by normalizing it andagain we talked about this earlier, but just to reinforce the point saying thisis something I'm experiencing right now or I have experienced in the past. What do you think about that? Does thatresonate with you? Are you going through that sometimes just phrasing, aquestion that way and then the final point again, I would say, is just leading by nonverbal example aswell, so allowing people to see you as a leader as a whole, human being andbeing your true self in front of your team. People know when somebody's beingauthentic or inauthentic, and I think you gain out you gain a lot ofcredibility as a leader and a lot of trust as a leader from your team, whenyou are able to be your authentic self around or your folks, and then I think.Finally, the last one would be again being okay with experimentation andpivoting know that whatever you put out in the next couple of months isprobably not going to be where you finally end up, and in fact I would saythat, for probably any program you build from these things are alwaysgoing to be constantly evolving with your company and the demographics ofyour employees, and just where you are in terms of size and stage, so don'tthink anything is ever one and done be. Okay with having to pull things backand change things up and evolve from what you initially had in front ofabsolutely, and just to underscore your idea of asking questions that you justlaid out. I was personally really struck by this idea of your coachingleaders to say how are you and then to probe further and say, but how are youreally right because we as human, whoever it is a leader and an employee,all of us in modern culture, are so trained to say how am I I'm greateverything's, great everything's, wonderful, but that follow up questionshows no, I really care and I want to...

...know the real deal. So thank you forthat. Sara, that that tip, I'm just so pleased that we're able to share someof these concepts to to our technically people. Listeners now tell me iflisteners do want to reach you or talk with you more and learn more about you.Where should they go yeah, so they can absolutely get a holdof me through Lindon, so it's Sara Cooper, no at Champ, Sara and then ontwitter, I'm back Sash, Sara Cooper and I'm always happy to talk. I lovetalking about this stuff. I get really passionate about it, so happy to chatwith anybody who wants to reach out fantastic, and I think there willcertainly be people who definitely want to speak with you and even just followsome of these programs that you've en implemented to our listeners. Thank you,too, for joining in this conversation, love to invite you to subscribe to theshow, and you can do that by visiting technically people com and last I'lljust I extend an open invitation for you all to join the conversationhappening on Linton at technically people, so everyone we will see you or moreaccurately talk to you next week, thanks everybody built on is a techrecruitment platform. That's in constant dialogue with leaders aboutthe future of tech, Bilton's podcast. Technically people expands thoseconversations to fellow futurist, create and lead exceptional workplaces,environments that inspire in Demand Tech professionals to join your companyand thrive to learn how building can help your company attract besting costprofessionals visit employers top built Incom you've been listening to technicallypeople, a community conversation about the future of work. If you want to hearmore cutting edge ideas about creating human centre, work places subscribe onyour favorite, podcast player and you'll, never miss an episode and ifyou're over the moon about what you've heard we'd be honored. If you took thetime to give us a five star review so signing off until we meet again in thefuture, to.

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