Why Wellbeing Is Key to Retention of Hybrid and Remote Workers: Interview with Cesar Carvalho, CEO at Gympass (Video & Podcast)

10 min read
Cesar Carvalho

In this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky speaks to Cesar Carvalho, CEO at Gympass, about why wellbeing is key to retention of hybrid and remote workers.


Video: “Why Wellbeing Is Key to Retention of Hybrid and Remote Workers: Interview with Cesar Carvalho, CEO at Gympass”



Podcast: “Why Wellbeing Is Key to Retention of Hybrid and Remote Workers: Interview with Cesar Carvalho, CEO at Gympass”



Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast

  • You can view the new State of Work-Life Wellness report from Gympass here
  • The book Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage is available here.
  • You are welcome to register for the free Wise Decision Maker Course


Gleb Tsipursky  0:01  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the wise decision maker show where we help you make the wisest, most profitable decisions. As always, my name is Dr. Gleb Tsipursky. I’m the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, the future work consultancy that sponsors the wise decision maker Show. Today with me is Cesar Carvalho, who is the CEO of Gympass, we’ll find out about Gympass later. But first, Cesar, I wanted to ask you specifically about wellbeing for remote workers and how it compares to office workers and hybrid ones. I know you just put out a report on wellbeing. And I want to learn a little bit more about the difference between remote workers, hybrid workers who are there in the office occasionally, and in office workers and how they experience well being?


Cesar Carvalho  0:46  

Well, very good. Glad, thank you so much for hosting me. It’s a pleasure to be here with you, especially discussing such an important topic. And, like, the question is very interesting is know what what’s the state of wellbeing for different types of workers, you know, the, the reality in the data of this research that we did is has shown is that we’re in a crisis of wellbeing, and it’s a crisis that’s affecting everyone, people that are working remotely, and also people that are working in person in different offices, and etc. And the results are, I’d say, alarming, like people are disengaged, 60% of the employees say that they’re disengaged at work and 20% share that they feel miserable at work. And I think the separation between people that are working at the office versus remote, it puts some light on something that we have seen already in the past, which is like that this relationship between life and work before it used to be more compartmentalized, like there were people that said, No, I’m trying to strike this balance between my life and my work. And what we’re seeing is, for those that have gone on hybrid or remote, the lines are much more blurred now than they were before. So it’s equally concerning, but the elements are somewhat different between the two. And, and to me, that is a very important topic for us to discuss in double click here.


Gleb Tsipursky  2:42  

Yes, definitely, I’d like to learn a little bit more about how to help with the well -being of people who are in the office, fully office centric, Monday, nine to five people who are in the office, occasionally, one two days in office three days, and fully remote workers. Let’s dive into that. And tell me about each group and how to best support their well being


Cesar Carvalho  3:06  

very good. So my, to start with, I believe that everyone, regardless of their time, they, they have different needs, right. So there are folks that see well being as being physically active, there are folks that see well being as being close to their loved ones. And they’re also folks who see well being as driving meaning from the work that they’re doing every single day and building great relationships, no matter where they are. So let’s dive into the differences. For people that are working from nine to five at the office, and then commuting back home for like every single night. And then for the weekends. It’s really, really important to make sure that they have access to wellbeing resources that can be used, either on the way on the commute to work or right after work. So it’s very important to find, for example, physical activity partners for gyms, studios, classes, it’s very important to have classes in those locations, but also to have classes where people leave so they can go with their significant others and potentially exercise on weekends as well. The other part is that for those folks, life is more compartmentalized, distinct, you have your life at work, you have our life at home, but for what happens after nine, like it’s still a little bit blurry and that and that’s where this group is going to. It’s gonna mix with folks that are still on a hybrid routine. But my view is, for folks that are at the office, they often do need to look at the communities around the office, they do need to look at the time spent commuting and for what the experiences are at the workplace. Specifically, for people that are on a hybrid schedule, I think the secret is making sure that every time someone’s heading to the office, it is for a specific purpose, and that you’re getting all the resources that that person needs to be effective at the time that they’re there. So it makes no sense to have people be at the office three days per week, if people are going on different times, and teams are not taking the time to meet and collaborate. And then for those, the importance of group activities is even higher. So making sure that for the three days, you’re making those three days really, really meaningful in nature, you’re having people invest time not only to work together, but also to build those relationships and potentially, you know, do an activity together like discuss, it’s so I think there’s a lot there. For the fully remote workers. That’s to me where the most challenging situation is, and mostly because companies are still learning how to manage it. And everyone, I think, believes the future of work is more remote than in person. It is more hybrid than in person. The problem is getting there, right, the problem is the present. And to me, I think companies for remote workers thinking about their well being is where they need to be really, really thoughtful about what are the processes, we’re going to put around the work life balance for those employees, and how we’re going to make sure like that, even though they’re not connected to the office, that we’re still building culture, that we’re still showing them the meaning what they’re doing, and that we’re still providing the same level of benefits that for an example, and in company gym could get that an intercompany meditation room could bring to the employees that were bringing those examples, all sorts of people that geographically spread. That, to me, shines light on, like, what are the benefits for this new reality? What is the type of things that we can bring from a wellbeing point of view to folks that are spread all over the place?


Gleb Tsipursky  7:48  

Yeah, it’s definitely very important to do social activities with remote workers. So something that I help my clients do is transitioning to permanent post work arrangements, and arrange some activities that are going to be including remote workers. So for example, virtual escape rooms, or some other fun social activities, gaming, various in a fortnight, whatever people like to do that include people who are going to be fully about what are other kinds of activities, social activities, that are going to be inclusive of people who are fully remote that would facilitate their well being?


Cesar Carvalho  8:26  

Yeah, so to me, you can call it, I think it’s too social, but it’s not necessarily connecting employees with other employees on a remote basis. But giving those remote employees the tools to get immersed in their local communities, with their family members in a meaningful way. So think about this, like, in the physical activity space, there are more than 2000 different types of activities. There’s yoga, there’s the regular gym, there’s, there are 50 different types of yoga, actually, there’s bloodies, Pico balls growing super fast, and etc. And it’s a fun game. It’s like Netflix. And there are many series coming every time and then new episodes, and people get excited about trying those different things. And the employee base of companies these days are getting more and more diverse, right? And people have different tastes. And as an employer, making sure you’re making available to those employees, all the possible resources for them to pick and choose and try what’s best for them and what works best for that local community. And making sure you’re incentivizing this as much as possible by including the family members and giving people time to do those things. That makes a huge, huge difference. What we see from some of the clients that we work with is that companies that have 2000 employees, they see those 2000 people visiting five different 5000 different partners. So more than 2000 more than two partners per employee every single month. And that’s magical, because it really meets their employees wherever they are, and with the activities they would most like to do.


Gleb Tsipursky  10:20  

Yeah, well, let’s go in depth into a case study that you know, yourself, Gympass itself, the company. Tell me a little bit more about what you do for your employees? Because I’m sure it’s a best practice for what others should do for their employees. How do you support your employees who are coming in? I don’t know what your structure is, hybrid to remote, office centric? How do you support different employees in different categories? What do you specifically do?


Cesar Carvalho  10:47  

Very good. And we’re a remote first company. And because we’re a global company, we have offices in 11 countries, we were doing conference calls, even when we were office office centric before the pandemic, so there would be, it would be a normal day for a leader to go into the office and spend 70% of the time in conference calls with people from other countries. And to us, I think we made a commitment as a company to be like the best company in the wellbeing space for employees. And we try to exercise wellbeing for our employees in four different dimensions. There’s one dimension, which is providing them with all the tools for them to reach better wellbeing. We subsidize access to 10,000 different gyms and studios in the US, we subsidize access to more than 30 Different wellbeing apps to our employees. And we give a wellness coach to every single employee who wants to receive guidance on how to better explore their well being journey with their family members, no matter where they are. To me, we do it out of altruism, but also out of business interests, like it’s great for business to have people activate a great state of well being. It helps our bottom line, it helps with engagement, it helps to reduce turnover. And I can talk more about that as well. But that’s the first principle. The second principle is we want people to be productive at work. We don’t want them to be spending hours and hours in unproductive meetings and not contributing meaningfully to the mission of the company. And then we created what we call the Gympass operating system, which regulates how people engage in different initiatives and what types of calls and initiatives people should participate in. And to me, the main purpose there is to make sure that one, we are delegating activities properly to teams. And we’re empowering people to make the decision and to control the destiny of that specific initiative going forward. Third piece is we are doing a ton of training. Because wellbeing is mostly seen as a benefit. But to me well being is the exercise of leadership. And we’re training leaders on how to create a culture of well being as they’re managing their teams on a day to day basis. A few tips, letting people take breaks from time to time, checking doing checkpoints, from time to time to see how people are doing and of course having the flexibility to potentially let people take a day off etc. They’re giving feedback to people helping them develop along the way. And making sure that you’re being mindful and purposeful, like creating the development opportunities for every single person in your team. So a lot of investment in people. And the fourth one is when we do it in person, we’re very intentional about what we do together as a team. We’re encouraging every single team to meet in person at least once per quarter. And the idea is not to discuss the business when we meet in person. The idea is to build bonds, to connect, to build empathy, to talk about what worked well and not worked well because we don’t want to wait until that specific moment. And we want to operate as efficiently as possible once we break from that specific gathering and then and then pushing back and people are working back remote. So if you look at those four things, like the structure that we had, we had to have in place to enable all of it was a very strong network of strategic HR business partners, for every single manager and leader at the company, and in a way that we’re proactively managing people are being and it’s linked even on how productive effective we are in delegating work and letting people be able to have autonomy on making the right decisions.


Gleb Tsipursky  15:11  

Let’s circle back to number one, the numbers and the business case. I saw from your report that 85% of employees reported they would have better retention, if employers cared about their well being. Tell me a little bit more about the business case for well being, by the numbers according to your report. But other things as well, don’t you find?


Cesar Carvalho  15:31  

That’s very good. So, to me, the first thing is, this huge number of people that are saying that well being is really, really important for them when deciding to stay at a given company. And I think what people are realizing is that because life and work are blurred. And since you spent so many hours, we spent so many hours working every single day, that if that component of well being is not there, like almost as like nothing else matters, you know, and, and to me, that’s shining light on the importance of wellbeing to everyone and how and how critical it is for companies to tackle those those challenges head on. The second thing is, regarding salary, four out of five employees said that well being is as important as salary for them on a day to day basis. And that surprised me a lot. Because I would have guessed like that it was, it would have been a much lower percentage. And to me, this is a thing that is like the silver bullet that CEOs, leaders, board members are not tapping into yet everyone’s thinking about the salary bands. If people are compared to the market, people look at salaries, to measure their career progress, they look at salaries to measure their career progress. There’s legislation talking about transfer transparency of pay these days. But we’re actually not talking at all about which companies are great at wellbeing for their employees and which companies are not. Their main technology companies are helping employees find out, like what companies are paying for different roles and et cetera. No one’s talking about which companies are great at wellbeing, which leaders are great at well being. And they should be. And I think this is a huge opportunity for differentiation in the future. And companies that try to embrace this sooner, they will benefit from a significant period of competitive advantage. But then let’s talk about the case of wellbeing. You know, companies that invest in the well-being of their employees get to triple the number of active people they have there, and engage people that have a direct implication for retention. We have seen that employees that are at a great state of wellbeing are 40% more likely to stay at their current employer. And there’s a huge cost around hiring more people, ramping them up and training them for them to get up to speed. And make no mistake, everyone hates losing great talent, right. The second thing is on health care costs. People who are active with quick exercise once per week, spend on average 25% less on health care than people who are not sure that there’s a clear bottom line and back there. And in addition to those, like the number of sick days you take, the better decisions you make, by being in a great state of well being and not tired, burned out or depressed. Like it’s something no one questions like if wellbeing was appealing. And by taking it everyday, you would be in a great state of well being. Everyone would take that pill every single day. Sure. And while there is no pill, there are a set of practices that every single company can implement to have similar effects. And those effects are worth it.


Gleb Tsipursky  19:23  

Now, can you tell us about Gympass itself? How can your company help other companies facilitate the well being of their employees? What do you do? In other words?


Cesar Carvalho  19:33  

Very good. So we’re a technology platform that is creating a benefit that’s connecting the employees of our clients, to 1000s of gyms, studios, apps, trainers, all over the US and in 10 other countries. And the principle is that by combining all those different wellbeing resources by combining a meditation app with With the gym next door, we have a studio class and with a wellness coach to guide you through this well being journey, and by making the price of that service be half of what the price would be for someone to just go and use one of those partners, that we can dramatically increase the number of active people within the population of our clients. And by having many more active people in a great state of wellbeing, we get all the positive effects that we talked about here. So I created Gympass 10 years ago, and I have been signing gyms studios apps, to make sure that we have a state of the art platform for every single employee to use. And the best thing for companies is that there is a product for everyone, like there are free wellbeing apps, there are gyms studios that are included in a plan that cost just $10 that’s accessible to everyone and includes gyms studios that would normally cost $40. So four times more than what the employees are actually paying. But like the people who want it, there is access to super premium gyms, boutique studios, one on one personal training sessions as well. The principle is the same: bundling all those different services in one single membership that would always cost 50% less than the price of a single partner. What I’m passionate about is serving everyone, and making sure that our clients are getting access to all these partners. No matter what the new fitness trend is. Uber was the biggest thing. We had all the Zumba studios, all the Zumba classes on our platform, we still have them. And then everyone was talking about CrossFit, our clients got immediate access to all the grassroots students as they were growing. And then pickleball now is a big thing. And then we’re adding the platform. So the benefit keeps improving over time because we keep adding better partners for every single employee to us.


Gleb Tsipursky  22:19  

Excellent. All right, this was a lovely conversation. Is there anything else that you haven’t yet shared that you think our audience would value knowing about well being about Gympass anything that we’ve discussed?


Cesar Carvalho  22:32  

Yeah, so the only thing to emphasize is that there is this myth of trying to pursue work life balance, as if work and life were separate things that are competing against each other at odds against each other. And, that what we have seen in the pandemic has only accelerated it and the more hybrid work and the more remote first workers exist and like the more they accelerate the strength is that those two are connected. And and what companies should strive for is not to guide their employees to have better work life balance and investing on work, places work benefits, while companies should be doing is looking at work life wellness, and how can you bring great wellbeing for people no matter where they are, and and not separating one or the other. Because that’s how we’re gonna get real engagement. And that’s how we’re going to change the game in terms of getting employees engaged and happy and healthy.


Gleb Tsipursky  23:46  

So that’s a wonderful note, Tom done. Thank you very much, sir. was a pleasure to have you on.


Cesar Carvalho  23:52  

Thank you glad the pleasure was mine.


Gleb Tsipursky  23:54  

All right, everyone, and I hope you the listeners and viewers have enjoyed this episode of the wise decision maker show. As always, make sure to leave a review to help other people discover the show and to help us have the valuable feedback we need to improve the show. And make sure you subscribe to the show wherever you check this out. And please tell your family and friends it’s always valuable to help them discover the show. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the wise decision maker show. In the meantime, the wisest most profitable decisions to you, my friends


Transcribed by https://otter.ai 


Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which helps organizations adopt a hybrid-first culture, instead of incrementally improving on the traditional office-centric culture. A best-selling author of 7 books, he is especially well-known for his global best-sellers Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019) and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). His newest book is Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in prominent venues. They include Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Fast Company, Forbes, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for mid-size and large organizations ranging from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from his research background as a behavioral scientist. After spending 8 years getting a PhD and lecturing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served for 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University’s Decision Sciences Collaborative and History Department. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio (Go Bucks!). In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.