The central idea underlying LEON for the past four years has been that the best way to run a business is to balance your company's performance with the health of your employees.
Healthy companies, we know, dramatically outperform their peers. Companies that work on their health, we’ve found, not only achieve measurable improvements in their organizational well-being but demonstrate tangible traction gains in a shorter time frame. This holds for companies across B2B and B2C sectors and regions, as well as in contexts ranging from early-stage startups to high performing, late venture-funded companies.
Our recommendation is clear: start managing your fast scaling or high growth startups well-being as rigorously as you do your Go To Market or Content Strategy, providing pathways for leaders and employees at all levels to take part in both optimizing the health of your company and themselves.
Employee performance and your bottom line
We think of employee health as more than just a startup culture or kombucha at lunch. The organization should align around a mission regarding well-being, execute against that mission effectively, and renew itself through better employee performance and wellness. Put another way, wellness should be a growth lever for your organization, no matter the stage or success of the company.
The case for an employee first approach
Over the past four years, we’ve researched the health of hundreds of SaaS companies and tens of thousands of employees. We did this by aggregating pulse surveys and questionnaires on 3 key wellness metrics. We assigned scores to each metric, followed by a composite Z score, allowing a company to see how it compares to other B2B and SaaS companies within the data set.
Research tells us that there is a strong correlation between wellness and revenue. But the latest research is more dynamic: it highlights the potential for the vast majority of companies to improve their health and how this can correspond with enhanced performance. Findings include the following:
Could the causality be a bit bogus? In other words, when companies grow and start driving revenue, might their peoples' outlooks on both the company and themselves generally improve and therefore be more likely to identify as happier or more content? In theory, yes. In practice, though, we’ve seen the opposite, over and over again. Consider, for example, the experience we saw of a Series A Funded B2B company: Over the past one and half years, their team has pushed to massively grow to finalize a Series A and almost double in size. You would think that after this huge milestone, leadership and employee morale would make a large jump in a positive direction, right? Nope, across the board, we saw close to 30% reductions in both mental health and team morale.
Growth above everything else
Given all the data that supports working on employee well-being, startups’ obsession with growth and that next funding round alone continues to puzzle us. It’s right that founders should push growth as much as humanly possible, but why not do the same for their company's health? In fact, why not measure employee well-being frequently throughout the year, since it’s a leading indicator of performance, whereas company financial growth can lag somewhat? Similarly, why do the majority of employee-performance conversations focus on financial targets and not on whether employee health is contributing to company growth?
Of course, as founders we want a healthy organization, right? But we worry about how long it will take to realize benefits from efforts to improve employee health and about distracting people from other growth-focused priorities. We believe these concerns are misplaced. Just as anyone can run a marathon or 5k if they train properly, so too can startups be conditioned to improve employee health in a shorter time—and those improvements can reinforce those growth-critical priorities.
The key to performance is focus.
This starts with making the quest for employee health an integral part of your company roadmap. Founders need to consider themselves champions of this new mission, not passive bystanders. Then it means integrating wellness metrics into your monthly and quarterly reviews, with data to show how both are trending versus benchmarks. Supporting priorities include tying financial incentives to accomplishing “wellness playbooks”; creating and holding accountable a Wellness Operations team dedicated to embedding the mission into the organization, and weaving health into the conversation of company performance.
A detailed approach to achieving employee health
So how do you achieve employee well-being quickly? In our experience, there are three areas founders must invest in to build a healthy, performance-driven company (besides, of course, ensuring that they are fully aligned on the growth strategy). The first, most important step is choosing your performance goal - or as we call them “playbooks - that will best drive their organization’s health outcomes. Then it’s about moving to adopt the rollout of that playbook as quickly as possible, and leveraging LEON as your de-facto WellOps leader to drive adoption.
Pick a Playbook
There is no such thing as a single winning startup culture. But based on our data, we have identified four combinations of Playbooks that, when aligned with the LEON platform, drive superior engagement—and quickly. We call these three the LEON Index: Health, Work, and Life. (and roughly about 15-20 other sub-metrics) They all sound pretty good, right? The reality is, though, that companies can’t focus on all of them all at once, which is why we focus on one playbook, for every employee at a time for speedier results. Our research shows that companies which are fully aligned with their employees on accomplishing one, specific goal, see positive outcomes increase by 5x.
Pulse surveys for the win
Company health is organic, and, like the human body, it evolves over some time. If employee wellness is to be improved quickly, it needs to be measured regularly. The days of conducting a survey and then waiting 12 months to remeasure are gone. This pulse survey measuring strategy pinpoints where employee wellness actions are needed. Using both the LEON employee platform and our Playbooks, LEON can drive survey adoption, while at the same time increasing wellness usage and engagement. This is an integral part of how LEON can support your organization both inside or outside the office, and with any personality type or demographic.
Our partnership network
An integral part of the LEON performance framework is our access to industry-leading brands to both implement certain aspects of our Playbooks, along with driving adoption. Simply put, one company and its internal parts are incapable of driving employee health alone. Health goals are steeped deep within an employee's personality type and are subjective by nature. We solved that by aligning ourselves with leading brands to support you and your employees, in one seamless platform. With hundreds of Playbooks and tons of modalities, there are opportunities for improvement for every one of your employees.
Companies often tell us that, while employee wellness sounds like a great idea or “nice to have”, it doesn’t feel like a necessity to achieving their growth goals. They also worry that it’s going to be too much work. LEON solved that issue. With LEON managing your complete employee performance operation, you can focus on growth all you want, while we take on all of the adoption and engagement responsibilities — in most cases, a bi-weekly overview of your account is all that’s needed. Employee performance is about optimizing your people, while you optimize your business. It’s about creating a company mission in a way that inspires employees to act in their best interests. Above all, it’s about caring for the well being of the greatest business growth lever you have, your team members.