This is an interview with Wellthy's Lindsay Jurist-Rosner (Founder, CEO) and Kevin Elmore (Marketing Manager). Wellthy was a 2020 Caregiving X2 Visionary Award winner along with Cariloop and Torchlight.
Tell us your family caregiver origin story. What sparked/prompted Wellthy's efforts to support family caregivers?
Wellthy is a mission-driven company staffed by and for family caregivers. It all started with the personal journey of Lindsay Jurist-Rosner. Her mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Lindsay was nine years-old. Lindsay started caregiving as a kid and stayed on that path for 28 years.
The experience was stressful, lonely and frustrating - often consuming all of Lindsay’s emotional energy. After college, she moved back in with her mom to help care for her. The last year-and-a-half of her mom’s life were spent in hospice. After Lindsay’s intensive and extensive experience, caregiving also had a profound effect on her career. After graduating from business school, she became obsessed with creating a better journey for others who were working and caregiving - the chaos and challenges of navigating our so-called health system are just too complex. Careers are often derailed and earning ability, health, and wellbeing can all take a serious hit.
In 2009, she purchased the domain name: Wellthy.com. In 2014 the company was officially born, and Lindsay and her co-founder, Kevin Roche, started working with family caregivers the following year. Today, Wellthy partners with employers to bring expert relief to family caregivers through a high-touch and personalized experience. They connect the caregiving employee with a dedicated care professional to help tackle the logistical and administrative tasks of caring for the ones they love, including themselves.
What prompts organizations to reach out for Wellthy's services? Who are the early adopters?
Employers seek out Wellthy with different needs at different moments in time. For example, during the pandemic, Wellthy has been helping caregivers and those they care for get vaccine appointments.
Executives, leaders, and human resources teams often reach out after first-hand experience with caregiving. They understand the challenges and feel the urgency to look at what can be done to help their employees so they feel like they're getting enough support to both work and take care of their loved ones.
One of the challenges is helping people realize they're caregiving so they can access help before they’re in a crisis situation. Increasingly, companies are also better at surveying their employees and asking “who do you care for?” and “who is in your circle of care”? This allows them to better gauge employees’ pain points and remind them help is available.
A pilot is usually the most powerful way for organizations to see how Wellthy works within an employer’s culture and with their employees and how it benefits their organization. They quickly see it’s a benefit that pays for itself as caregiving employees need to take fewer days off and employers retain valuable employees who previously had to quit or take a leave of absence to care for those they love.
Employee adoption and utilization is always best when leaders share their own caregiving experiences with staff and describe how this kind of support helped them.
How do you raise awareness and grow roots in your organization to initiate utilization and make it sustainable?
Wellthy is mission driven, and sustainable utilization is at the core of their employer engagement. They want to reach as many caregiving employees as possible. To that end, Wellthy developed:
- Best practices on how to roll out and drive engagement within organizations.
- An implementation process that involves learning about the organization’s culture; this includes the language they use when communicating with employees.
Utilization depends on how employers approach implementation. For example, employers that support mandatory informational sessions, town halls, and webinars about caregiving - or include information about caregiving and Wellthy in new employee training--see better adoption.
What impact does supporting employee caregivers have on organizations, employees, and teams? How do you help them understand the impact and measure success?
Wellthy measures the impact of its engagement with organizations through a standard Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey plus a series of four questions for caregiving employees who use the service including:
- Are you better engaged and less stressed?
- How many hours did Wellthy save you?
- Did Wellthy’s support make you miss fewer meetings and workdays?
- Did Wellthy help prevent you from taking a leave of absence or quitting your job entirely?
One example of a definitive return on investment (ROI) is data on the number of women who are not leaving the workforce thanks to caregiver support. The cost of replacing an employee is three times their salary. Employers also see improvements in employee loyalty and wellbeing, reduced stress, and less impact on caregivers’ physical and mental health. More measurement and outcome tracking is possible with access to employer data on leaves of absence and attrition.
How do you support your own employees with their family caregiving? How are you continuing to create a culture of care?
Wellthy is actually Wellthy’s highest utilizing client. Caregiving is part of their organizational DNA, and they try to be very vocal about self-care. Wellthy is intentional about making sure they support their own employees by sending regular team pulse surveys to find what's working and what's not and encouraging communication in all forms to make sure team members are being met with the right level of support, flexibility, and resources.
Wellthy created a workplace culture that revolves around the family and empowers the caregivers on their team to support others while still thriving as caregivers themselves. They also work to offer meaningful benefits for caregivers including:
- Unlimited PTO and sick time
- FSA/HSA accounts
- Generous caregiver leave
- Wellbeing and mindfulness resources
- Flexible working hours
- Free access to Wellthy’s services
- Peer support groups
- Manager training on how to support employees through caregiving
Women make up 85% of the team. Together, they manage lots of complex caregiving situations.
Wellthy now feels a sense of urgency to show-up for and evangelize caregiving given the spotlight the pandemic has shone on the issue. And they’re expanding outside of the United States with pilots starting in the UK and Canada in May 2021. They also support families through topics that may be seen as adjacencies to family caregiving (e.g. supporting employees through retirement, end of life, gender affirmation surgery, etc.). Wellthy wants to make sure they raise awareness of more niche areas of caregiving that deserve attention while remaining unwaveringly focused on their core mission.
Caregiving.com partnered with the Difference Collaborative to identify organizations that are proactively working to both support their own employees with family caregiving and to help organizations support their employees so they can care, work, and thrive. To learn more about family caregiving and employers, also check out these podcasts, articles, and webinars from the Difference Collaborative.
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