Let's Talk Levers: Employee Initiatives

Let's Talk Levers: Employee Initiatives

By: Emily Kane Miller

The Ethos Lever Model: Employee Initiatives, Explained

The Ethos Lever Model utilizes fourteen different “Levers” by which an organization can make an impact. Each Lever serves a real opportunity to create value - but when strategically pulled together, result in a powerful and cohesive Social Impact strategy. 

In this blog series, the Ethos team breaks down each Lever - complete with expanded definitions and real-life examples - so you can best understand how to pull the right Levers through your organization's social impact work. See all 14 Levers here.

Lever: Employee Initiatives

The Employee Initiatives Lever refers to companies taking “above and beyond” action to support employees and their families. 

Maximize Employee Initiatives: 

  • Consider your organization’s social impact objectives, and make absolutely certain your employees are supported in that area. For example, if you are focused on Nutrition, ensure your company cafeteria offers plenty of healthy options. If you are focused on Addiction & Recovery, consider offering healthcare plans with strong SUD (Substance Use Disorder) and mental health care services coverage. 
  • As always, create (and utilize) criteria to ensure Employee Initiative efforts are strategically leveraged - as a starting point, all activations should align with at least one other Lever. 

Employee InitiativesThree Real-Life Examples

1.Dave’s Killer Bread is an Oregan-based mission-driven company focused on baking and distributing organic, whole-grain breads. Founded in 2005 by Dave Dahl, the company is a leader in Employee Initiatives. Dave grew up in a family of bakers, but found himself on a path that ultimately led to 15 years spent in prison. Upon his release, Dave was welcomed back into the family business, and a few years later founded Dave’s Killer Bread. Realizing that he was lucky to have found steady employment after spending more than a decade behind bars, Dave created the Second Chance Employment program: “We believe in hiring the best person for the job, regardless of criminal history. We have witnessed its transformative power, and that giving someone who is ready to change their lives a chance – a Second Chance - gives people an opportunity not only to make a living, but to make a life.” Now, more than a third of the Dave’s Killer Bread team has a felony conviction. Dave Dahl also founded DKBF (Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation), whose mission is to galvanize the business community to adopt and implement Second Chance Employment.

2.Lululemon is a popular athletic apparel retailer and lifestyle brand which ensures its holistically healthy beliefs are offered to employees as well as customers. The company understands that when employees are supported, their work improves, stating “We believe that when life works, work works. And that starts with our core benefits. With our extended health plans, paid time off, savings plans, employee discounts and fitness classes, you can take care of your whole self. We want you to realize your full potential.” Examples of Lululemon’s Employee Initiatives include:

  • Generous Parental Leave: “Our Parenthood program provides paid leave of up to six months to global employees at all levels. The policy is gender neutral and applies to maternity, paternity and adoption leaves.”
  • Monthly dollar allocations to support health: “We believe a daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins helps offset stress… Our Sweaty Pursuits program provides all employees with a monthly allocation of dollars to support big and small health goals.”
  • Yoga training and other immersive experiences: “We offer global employees access to powerful personal inquiry and embodied learning through our Purpose & Practice program, a multiday experience focused on living a life of purpose & impact, and through Mindfulon, our very own 200 hour certified yoga teacher training for employees and ambassadors.”

3.Headspace is a mindfulness/meditation company with a strong online presence – more than 30 million users on its app enjoy hundreds of guided meditations and exercises on everything from stress to sleep. Not only does Headspace offer its own Employee Initiatives – including unlimited vacation time, fully-paid healthcare plans, and free gym memberships – they also offer Headspace for Work. This is a leading mental health benefit tool that offers companies the opportunity to help their teams care for their minds, resulting in less stress and burnout, and a better workplace culture overall. The Headspace blog also offers advice to leaders looking to better support their teams’ mental health – for example, “Encourage your team to schedule breaks in the day, to focus on the breath, do some stretching, or take a walk if possible. For those who need it, recommend a day off. Staying at home doesn’t mean we have to work around the clock.”


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