We Need People Leaders to Support Employee Well-Being

Kyla Holcombe, Ph.D., Insights Consultant & Organizational PsychologistCOVID-19 Response, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Pulse Surveys, Strategic ListeningLeave a Comment

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It’s no secret that managers play a critical role in fostering employee engagement, team morale, and well-being. Often easier said than done even in normal modes of operation, supporting employees in the current state of the world through remote work, a global pandemic, and social justice crises has been a whirlwind of challenge and change for many leaders.

In supporting organizations with their listening strategies and employee engagement initiatives over the past couple months, one theme stands out: the importance of intentionality. Some organizations are intentionally focused on employee experiences right now, proactively reaching out, asking for feedback, tapping into a variety of listening mechanisms, and communicating tough decisions head-on. Others are not.

One Newmeasures’ client, Infoblox, stands out for their intentionality in prioritizing employee well-being. Specifically, Infoblox has developed a framework to support employee well-being as people work from home due to COVID-19. The initiative also targets supporting managers. Infoblox believes that to accomplish what needs to be done operationally, managers need to be leaders of people first. Year-over-year, Infoblox has seen through their engagement surveys that supervisor support impacts team engagement (check out this case study for more on Infoblox’s best practices).

With the shift to being virtual people leaders, managers are looking for guidance. Their framework outlines specific ways to support holistic employee well-being – financial, physical, mental, and social. Early data and anecdotes show that well-being practices have made a big difference for employees and managers – 98% of employees reported feeling confident in the future of the organization on a recent pulse survey, in large part due to increased townhalls for all employees, weekly open office hours with the Executive Team, and sharing key financial performance indicators.


Increased and intentional communication is woven throughout components of the initiative. Communication has strengthened from the top and down through all levels of the organization in response to COVID-19.

The Executive Team sends out a communication once a week, acknowledging that the circumstances and state of the world are intense right now and emphasizing that they want to keep people in-the-know as much as possible. The messages are focused on sharing what leaders are thinking about, what decisions and priorities they are discussing right now, and when decisions may be coming. With everything in flux, Infoblox has promised two weeks’ notice before implementing big changes, like people returning to the physical office.

The CEO and Chief Revenue Officer also recently hosted a virtual all-hands meeting to share about the current state of the world and the business. They discussed sales, predictions and forecasting of what is to come, and industry trends. Leadership sees that Infoblox offers something that is consumable even in a recession and painted a picture of a strong horizon ahead. The internal Director of Communications has been instrumental in coordinating these efforts and being intentional about the frequency, intent, and delivery of various communications across the organization.

There are other ways senior leaders are making themselves accessible to employees. For example, the Chief Human Resources Officer hosts a virtual manager Question & Answer session twice per week. Each EVP is hosting a monthly or bi-monthly all-hands with their respective areas of the organization. On a local level, it has also become a norm for most teams to start the day with a virtual daily huddle at 8am.

In thinking about what’s next, Infoblox conducted a “Return to Work” pulse survey to hear how remote working has been going for employees and thoughts about returning to the physical workspace. Some notable findings include:

  • Most employees feel the same or more productive working remotely as they do in the office.
  • Many employees have a preference to continue working remotely 1-2 or 3-4 days per week and about 20% prefer to work from home full-time.
  • The most important factors to help people feel comfortable returning to the office include cleanliness, spacing/social distancing, and adhering to guidance of public health officials.
  • Most people say they would feel comfortable returning to the office 2-3 months after regulations are lifted.

Financial Well-being

Infoblox finished their quarter at the end of April and shared financial results broadly in a virtual all-hands meeting, which eased employees’ worries about the financial state of the company and individual compensation. Leaders announced compensation is remaining the same and there will be no layoffs. The Executive Team reinforced that they are in a good place as a company and people should be feeling confident in the future.

Physical Well-being

Physical activity is another component of well-rounded well-being and a good way to add in a bit of fun for employees. Infoblox is offering regular virtual yoga classes, and employees can sign up for coordinated virtual colleague fitness challenges/contests. In March, more than 50 employees participated in each challenge and now around 10-20 people continue to participate in each session. People involve their families and watch recordings at times that work with their lives. The CEO even shared his workout routine and had a contest for employees to submit their routines; he encouraged employees to maintain their physical routines to stay physically and mentally fit.

Mental Well-being

In addition to Employee Assistance Programs and resources about stress management, Infoblox sees opportunity to support mental well-being through mindfulness. Twice a week, Infoblox hosts and invites all employees to 15-minute virtual mindfulness sessions. Leaders at all levels have joined and really seem to be experiencing the benefits of this practice. It is tough to be a leader right now (always, but especially right now) because leaders must navigate personal emotional and ups and downs, while also building confidence in their teams and bringing people along in the change. Leaders who are practicing self-care have been better able to do this for their teams.

Social Well-being

In support of people’s social well-being, the company has continued many of its normal recognition initiatives virtually and initiated a 200% match on philanthropy giving program, which has raised over $75,000.

The Global Director of Talent Development says they have also ‘bombarded’ people with training to keep them connected and there has been an increased appetite for more. More people have been participating in trainings than anticipated or pre-COVID-19. In one recent training, 120 employees joined (rather than the expected 50). Infoblox thinks increased involvement is due to people wanting to be connected, being in charge of their own days to make time for training, and desiring take advantage of skill building opportunities to “Build Their Career at Infoblox,” which is supported at the corporate goal level.

For Directors and managers, there are a number of specific development opportunities available. Infoblox is offering increased manager training and some specific sessions on managing remotely. In many ways the content is aligned with pre-existing leadership programs, but many leaders are new to managing remotely, so trainings have been well received. Trainings about maintaining engagement and managing performance are also offered once per week and the leadership program, LEAD, was launched as planned with some parts now being offered virtually.

Combined, these efforts support holistic well-being at Infoblox.  

The Global Director of Talent Development attributes Infoblox’s success with this initiative to coordinated effort among the Executive Team. They also have an entire team focused on business continuity with a sub-committee dedicated to bringing employees back to the office. There is a dedicated force beyond HR committed to strategic listening, developing managers as people leaders, and employee well-being. In essence, Infoblox has realized it’s everyone’s responsibility to continue making it a great place to work even in uncertain times, and the culture as a whole reflects this understanding.

For more information about Infoblox, one of Inc. magazine’s Best Workplaces for 2020, visit their website and read Newmeasures case study about their employee engagement survey best practices.