How eBay makes its wellness program work

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Fitting wellbeing into the work schedule can be a challenge for employers who are trying to be as productive as possible. But for Lorna Borenstein, CEO and founder of wellness advising firm Grokker, and client Becky Bailey, senior director of global benefits and wellness at eBay, having a strong implementation of a wellness program can be a valuable way to boost productivity in the workplace and inspire positive feedback from employees.

“I started my company as a modern wellness company to help [employers by] utilizing all the best technology and most engaging digital assets available,” Borenstein said.

During EBA’s 2017 Workplace Benefits Summit in Boca Raton, Fla., Bailey and Borenstein shared the importance of core company values and how to effectively implement them for a small team or large global organization.

Bailey discussed behind-the-scenes triumphs, stumbles and lessons from building and directing eBay’s HR organization, along with insights from more than three decades directing employee benefits programs for top employers.

With Bailey’s strong experience in the benefits and wellness department spanning five different companies, such as Universal Studios and ARCO, she is now responsible for the wellbeing of nearly 15,000 eBay employees around the world — with thousands of dependents in their care — in 35 different countries.

“Our CEO, Devin Wenig, has very key core values that we live every day,” Bailey said. “He believes we are courageous, we live our brand, we are richly diverse, we are driven and we are inventive.”

To instill these values into other companies, Bailey said employers need to build stronger relationships with employees to form a community rather than solely seeking the next big payout.

“Companies and employees — and I think this is where benefits have a big play — need to figure out how they can be brought together,” Bailey said. “It’s not going to look the same for each company and part of the key is making programs that allow employees to develop friendships, because they are likely to stay at the company if their friends are there.”

Our best selves

These friendships can be developed through small meetings, either first thing in the morning with a quick employee breakfast or forming diversity or inclusion groups to allow the staff to get to know one another on a deeper level than just coworkers.

“You want to make sure people feel a belonging within the company and within the culture,” Bailey said. “They need to feel that they can bring their best selves to work, and this has been a passion for eBay over the past couple of years.”

In order for these get-togethers to work, Bailey said there needs to be buy-in from the C-suite and executive branches of the company, because without their approval there is no funding.

“Unless you have a financial degree, it is a real challenge when [employers] continually want to look at a ROI,” Bailey said. “I always like to turn it around and promote [wellness] as an investment in people, as opposed to a return on the investment.”

There are large figures that come out of having a strong wellness program within a workplace. Borenstein said that 88% of employees say they feel a high level of wellbeing because they are being engaged at work while less than half of employees with low wellbeing are saying they are being engaged at work.

“Some of this data reverts back to common sense. If I feel like I’m taking care of myself, then I’m engaged at work,” Borenstein said. “If I’m feeling stress, then I’m not being engaged at work. This is beyond intuitive.”

Bailey said the first steps any benefits and wellness adviser should begin with when rolling out a wellness or wellbeing program should start with small changes, get to know the workforce, get to know the CEO and then begin to experiment with various programs until the company finds a fit.

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