Wellness @ L&B: How we provide mental health support during Mental Health Awareness Month & beyond
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In honor of what has long been a stigmatized issue, we want to share a little about how we approach wellness at L&B in hopes of sharing our values, making our team and prospective employees aware of resources, and beginning a conversation about how we can continuously improve our approach to wellness for employees.
At L&B, employee wellness as a whole has always been a huge priority for us. We think about our team as being “People First, Employee Second.” We operate from the mindset that our business wouldn’t exist without our people, so investing in them is really important. As a society we have long thought about wellness in terms of physical wellness like health insurance and firm sports teams, but at L&B we understand that wellness also includes mental health, like stress management and resources for resiliency. We know that every single one of us is human and we all face challenges at different times.
“In accounting, we go through busier seasons and calmer seasons,” says Senior HR Generalist Chloe Baird. “This seasonality means that our employees sometimes experience intense pressure to get many things done at the same time. Both at these times and in general, our investment in our people is important to us. It’s a priority, and it’s something that is continually adapting as we learn about new resources and listen to what our employees need.”
L&B’s wellness investments have adapted to employee needs and desires throughout the years. In the past, Casual Friday was an example of how L&B invited employees to work in ways that were most comfortable to them. Today, it’s opportunities like working remotely and the chance to engage with teachers from around the country, teaching on topics from financial wellness to how our identity informs our approach to work.
|L&B’s Wellness Principles
Baird, who manages employee benefits and many of the wellness programs, credits founder Steve Brownell and Director of People Operations Amanda Duff with bringing a listening ear and an open mind to hear what is going well for employees in every season, and make adjustments accordingly.
Whether it’s for fun or for self-care, flexible scheduling makes a big difference in employees’ sense of balance. Martha Grimes, a manager on the Assurance & Advisory side, says, “I am so grateful that L&B encourages us to use flexible scheduling to be successful and fulfilled in all areas of our lives. Life happens, sometimes during traditional business hours, and it’s a relief that it’s a non-issue at L&B and is extended to all employees.” With flexible scheduling, work hours for exempt employees can be adjusted seasonally.
Beyond doctor’s appointments and travel plans, though, Grimes appreciates the chance to pursue her hobbies and the trust that she’ll achieve her responsibilities nonetheless. “I enjoy fitness classes, kitten fostering (which requires a lot of sporadic trips to the veterinarian!), and quality time with friends and family. Through flexible scheduling, I’ve never had to sacrifice those aspects of my personal life. The accounting industry generally has significant turnover, but flexible scheduling at L&B is one of the reasons I’ve chosen to continue my career with L&B for 6+ years.”
In the era of working from home, sports teams make a big difference to employees’ sense of connection with one another, as well as providing them a chance to get out of the house. Bobby Ying, a Senior Accountant on the tax side, says, “I enjoy being active with my colleagues because it allows us to show a different side of our personalities. It allows us to work together towards a common goal in a different way than we are used to.” Ying has championed L&B’s beach volleyball team and looks forward to getting back out for practice and games this summer.
Chandra Brown, a tax manager, agrees. “Playing sports with colleagues builds camaraderie with people you may not work directly with on a regular basis and helps build stronger relationships.” Like Ying, Brown enjoys competing alongside teammates and making connections beyond the patterns of the office. Browne appreciates that these opportunities are available at L&B. “I highly value personal/professional balance in trying to upkeep my wellbeing and L&B encourages this with several different avenues of achieving this, sports teams being one of them.” Besides beach volleyball and softball, L&B also has a fun run group.
One of the newest resources in the wellness space at L&B is an employer sponsored Headspace Premium subscription. Partner Mary McGroarty boasts that as of April 22, 2022, she has a 306-day streak of meditating every day. “I started using it to quiet my mind at night,” McGroarty says. In the days of working from home, “my mind would be occupied with thoughts of what I got done, what I didn’t get done, how I could have done something better. I found that a 5 minute winddown meditation every night helped me clear those thoughts, fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night.” McGroarty says she was amazed that just a few minutes focusing on breathing and clearing her mind has a big impact on how she feels physically.
McGroarty’s perspective on balance exemplifies the personalization and adaptability that we aim to embody at L&B. Speaking about her own experience, McGroarty says, “Balance is important to me, but also looks different for everyone and gets navigated differently for everyone. What works for me may not work for others. Our profession has a reputation for being difficult to create good balance, but I believe it can be done and we are working hard to make it better for those who are coming into the profession now.”
“It’s always a work in progress. You never achieve balance, you work consciously and intentionally to create it all the time. You have to know yourself well and feel confident enough to articulate what you need to create it.”
McGroarty relates the firm’s emphasis on mental health to a strategic initiative L&B is currently engaged in, around diversity, equity and inclusion. “People are at different places in their life, bringing different experiences and navigating different challenges,” McGroarty says. “Headspace provides an opportunity to take care of our mind so we are better equipped to face our challenges and keep going. It also helps us be less reactive to a stressful situation, take a step back and consider our response from a more reflective point of view.” One of McGroarty’s favorite Headspace videos is the one with the blue sky. Its message is that when all we see is dark clouds, we can know that the blue sky is still up there behind the clouds and that it will reappear.
When asked which programs she wished employees knew about or utilized more, Baird discussed the Employee Assistance Program, through which employees have access to five free counseling sessions and resources for a huge variety of life events, from legal counsel to health advocacy to moving logistics to grieving the loss of a loved one. Baird says she thinks EAP holds a bit of a stigma. “I think sometimes it can seem like EAP is only for people who are intensely struggling, because their resources are aimed to help with dramatic life events. But in reality, their resources today are designed to help manage life events so they don’t become a bigger obstacle to a person’s success.” For example, one employee used the resources on the EAP to find a nanny for a new child at the end of a parental leave.
At the end of the day, all of us at L&B are here for the same goal: to provide an excellent experience for everyone who works here so they can bring their best selves to work.