Wellness Part 1

3 December 2023
Language: Hebrew

Guest: Tal Almog, Electra FM
This episode dives into our diverse wellness initiatives with the VP of HR, showcasing how we boost employee health and happiness. From mindful moments to fitness challenges, discover our commitment to a workplace that prioritizes well-being.


Idit: In this episode we will talk about wellness, where did the concept come from, how does it relate to organizations and in general what is it good for? This time we have with us Tal Almog. Tal is VP of Human Resources at ElectraFM Group, a group of 6,000 employees. And Tal, in fact, is responsible for the employee's life cycle from recruitment and onboarding through all employee development until, eventually, the final stage. I met Tal when I was hired by the group about three years ago, and the truth is that we immediately formed a connection. We quickly discovered how much we had in common, and that's how every hallway conversation turned into a sea of insights and incessant conversations.So hi Tal, how are you? Thank you for joining us.

Tal: Hello hello, it's fun to be here. I'm a fan of podcasts. So for me it's really exciting that I was invited to be interviewed in one.

Idit: Fun, fun to hear. We usually like to kick off our podcast episode with some special quote from our guest, can you share with us any quote or any inspiring person?

Tal:  So I don't have a quote, but I do have an inspiring person. A few months ago, on International Women's Day, I was filmed for an Electra video and there I said that the most influential or inspiring figure for me is Keren Leibowitz. But there it was a short video, it was impossible to expand so I will just say that this woman has all the values that I believe in as a woman.

Idit: What for example?

Tal: She's the most determined person I've ever met. Which to me is a quality that is amazing, amazing and noble and necessary in our roles.

Idit: Totally.

Tal:  She entered an officer training course on two legs and left in a wheelchair. And my daughter is soon leaving for an officer training course. And she's raising a pair of twins on her own. And she also taught herself and then turned it into a method, to walk through the diaphragm without the wheelchair.

Idit: Amazing.

Tal:  So, whichever way I look at it, it's just inspiring on major levels.

Idit: It's incredible determination and perseverance.

Tal:  Yes, she doesn't let life get in her way. She just conquers another peak every time. It's also very much related to what we're talking about today, but it's also just inspiring.

Idit: So, tell us a little bit about what is wellness?

Tal:  So, wellness, at least as I understand it, and I've been toying with this idea for many years to bring it into the organization, it took me a while or it took the organization a while to mature. But wellness is a combination of well-being and well-doing. So let's start with the well-doing, which is easier, this is what I do for myself, this is what I do for others, this is what I do for my surroundings. And well-being is how I feel, that a lot of times people disregard it. It's like a side that isn't dealt with and isn't talked about. But one of the troubles of our time is the issue of stress, it's the issue of lack of sleep. You can't do a wellness program without addressing that side as well.

Idit: Okay, it's actually like how the person copes in a situation on the well-being side.

Tal:  That's right.

Idit: That's the attention to that, actually.

Tal: That's right.

Idit: Okay, and when did this perception actually start to gain momentum?

Tal: Look, organizations have been talking about wellness for many, many years. They didn't call it wellness and they didn't talk about all the well-being we just talked about, they didn't address those aspects.

Idit: They probably weren't familiar with these concepts at all.

Tal:  Theydidn't know them and the issue was perceived as something very spiritual and not adapted to business at all. Today we know that most of the leading CEOs in Israel and around the world do meditations, mindfulness and that is something that did not exist in the past. But they did understand that the employee or the employee's life is important to the employer beyond how he is inside the workplace.  So, before the '70s they started talking about it, but let's just say that in the last decade we've been talking about wellness, like we're talking about it now.

Idit: It's already interwoven with everything, actually.

Tal:  That's right, sometimes it's also a bit populist, but it doesn't matter, because in my opinion, even if you make a move that is populist and in the end it contributes to the employees in your organization, then it's good enough, you can start from that.

Idit: Absolutely. In fact, every person is responsible for himself and his health, how are the employers fit in the picture?

Tal: I think that the main responsibility of the employer is to allow the employee to do things that are for his welfare. Theoretically, there should be no connection to what value it brings to the organization, practically the relationship is a close connection. If I, as an organization, allow my employees to both count steps and do movement training.

Idit: You're actually creating a supportive environment for them to enable their health.

Tal: That's right, I allow it and I also adapt it to the hours that are beyond work hours so that they can be a part. And in some of the cases I also do it during work hours, so obviously then the connection is tighter. But I think it's mainly the understanding that what happens with the employee outside of work hours is very, very interesting to me and I respect that and I give it space.

Idit: Absolutely, it's very, very important. In fact, why then, if we talk about how important it is and how we encounter it today in everyday reality, why don't all companies invest in this field?

Tal: First of all, I think there are a lot of companies that are conservative companies, and as a conservative company, you're really preoccupied mainly with employee productivity. You don't perceive their personal affairs at all as something that is relevant to a workplace.

Idit: So old fashioned, so of yesteryear.

Tal: It's very old-fashioned, but it's also an evolution of organization. Sometimes it takes time, that is why I don't really judge them if at the end of the road they get where I think they should go, I praise them for the strides they are making. And I also think it's both inputs that are invested, both managerial inputs and finances and resources, and you also direct the employees with something else that they're doing. So sometimes there are conflicting interests here.

Idit: Absolutely. What do you think requires employers of any issue of the process of implementing wellness in the organization? Like, what is the importance of the involvement of managers or employees to the success of this process?

Tal: So I'll say, first of all, my nature is trying to do things that are not very likely to succeed. So this process is very much like this, I love to challenge, love to challenge myself and those around me.

Idit: Beautiful.

Tal: Why? Because my main role at this stage, because only this year we entered this field, it brought the employees in the organization and the managers in the organization together with the idea.

Idit: Give me an example.

Tal: For example, why should a field manager care how many steps his employee has taken? Why would he invest time in it? Why would he talk about it in a team meeting? And what do I care about how many steps his employee walks and how many steps he walks? I, on the other hand, won't get to the site without checking that everyone is connected to the app and that everyone walked today full of steps. So the first step is to warm the employees and managers to the idea. Then I think that as an employee, you first look at your manager. The fact that there is a Tal Almog…

Idit: What a role model is that.

Tal: Exactly, and that this Tal is friends with Idit and it's clear for both of them why it's important, the employee doesn't care what you or I think. They are interested in what their manager thinks in the field.  And if their manager doesn't live a healthy life and doesn't model what it means to live a healthy life. Why would the employee now make such statements? That's why I think that the main role and implementation of such a program is specifically for managers in the field, and that's why that's also the challenge. Because there's no magic here and it's leg work, literally.

Idit: What activities are the Electra FM group currently doing in the field of wellness?

Tal: So I just said we're warming the employees to the idea, so we launched a "steps" app.

Idit: Lovely. How does it work, through the phone?

Tal: It's through the smartphones that I think most employees have. It connects to your device, there are a lot of employees who in their day to day go a lot by virtue of their job. If it's electricians, if it's workers, laborers...

Idit: And they didn't think for a moment that they might need to measure it.

Tal: And now they're very happy that they see that the number of steps they take is very large. And there are also cool competitions and there are cool prizes. And there are already hundreds of registered employees on the app, I think there should be thousands. So we have a way ahead of us. There is no conference, no course, no meeting with employees within the organization who do not mention wellness. We do field visits and we do wellness activities. We do executive conferences and integrate wellness activities.

Idit: I mean, it's also a need that you feel comes from the employees, actually, from themselves.

Tal:  That's right. There is something about allowing this break and before talking work, let's do 5 minutes of stretching.

Idit:  Lovely.

Tal:  It pleases employees and makes them feel good and part of something bigger. Even in conference rooms, let's say the wellness has an effect, not as much as I would like because pastries sometimes reach the conference rooms, but in general, yes there are vegetables, yes, there are fruits, and one day it will also be more intertwined with our Day to Day.

Idit: So can we expect some green wall in a conference room soon?

Tal: My dream is a competition of vegetable gardens on sites. This is my dream. I think it's very easy, it's very applicable, and it's the most connection between man and the environment. Man gives to the environment, and the environment gives back to him.

Idit: Amazing. Are there any other programs like this in the pipeline, collaborations, of things that are going to be done?

Tal: Actually, everything is still ahead of us, we're at the very beginning of the beginnings, we'll call it, but yes, we plan to... The coronavirus is a bit disruptive for us, in the sense that if I wanted to have a running group that is active, then with corona I can't do that. I can get employees out for races, and we did it, both at five kilometers and ten kilometers, at Night Run in Petah Tikva, at Tel Aviv Marathon, we did things like that, I would like it to be more routine. Workouts, both in the morning and at the end of the day, cooking workshops, and lectures on a healthy lifestyle. Because I think that between wanting to live healthy, and knowing what you need to incorporate, there's still a gap.

Idit: Absolutely.

Tal: So I, because I'm a fan of podcasts, I hear it all the time, but I would like to make it accessible in the organization more accurately and more fully.

Idit: Lovely. There's a lot more to look forward to. So thank you very much, Tal, it was a pleasure, thank you for your time, and thank you very much.

Tal: Gladly, I had a lot of fun.

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