Speaker for June 4 Event Sees ROI in Wellness

Even as the initial shock of COVID-19 has diminished, employers and their teams continue to face challenges, stress and disruptions in their lives and the workplace — evidenced by a 33 percent increase in mental health-related leaves of absences in 2023..

By supporting the holistic wellbeing of their workers, employers have an opportunity to improve retention, productivity, engagement and innovation, said Frank Giampietro, Chief Wellbeing Officer for EY Americas.

We’re pleased to welcome Frank as the keynote speaker at our next Talent Solutions Series event, Wellbeing @ Work, 9-11 a.m. June 4 at GVSU’s Seidman Center in Grand Rapids. Frank will lead an interactive discussion of the importance of that work — and the ROI for individuals and employers alike.


In an interview with Carly Smyly, TalentFirst’s Director of Employer Talent Strategies & Engagement, Frank discusses this important topic and what he plans to cover at the June 4 event.

Two people in split-screen from video interview.
Frank Giampietro, Chief Wellbeing Officer for EY Americas, left, speaks with Carly Smyly, TalentFirst’s Director of Employer Talent Strategies & Engagement in a video interview.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Carly: So, wellbeing is a big category, right? When you’re thinking about wellbeing and doing research as an organization, how do you define it?

Frank: We take a pretty traditional view in terms of the pillars. So, we think about it from a physical perspective, from a mental and emotional perspective, from a financial wellbeing perspective — because we know how important that is to supporting everything else — and then also from a social wellbeing perspective, as we think about loneliness and topics like that.

Then we think about how we impact those areas of focus, and that is really through programs, resources and tools for people at the individual level. And then, what are we doing at the organizational level to create an environment where people can actually flourish?

Talk to me about why employers should shift their focus, attention and resources to employee wellbeing.

I think what we’ve learned is there’s direct correlations to a lot of important business outcomes.

When we focus on helping each of us be at our best from a wellbeing perspective, we’re much more likely to stay in the organization. We’re much more likely to be present and impactful and productive in the work that we do, where we’re innovating in different ways because our creative brains are more engaged than when we’re worn out or suffering from burnout.

And ultimately that produces better outcomes from an overall performance perspective. I think we’re just on the front end of really understanding and being able to articulate the ROI in a much more impactful way. Safely, we can look at it and say there’s a 3 to 4 times ROI on the things we can actually count. But I think it’s exponentially more than that, and we’re just starting to be able to prove that.

So, EY is a worldwide company. What are some of the universal challenges or wins that you’re seeing in this space?

On the win side, I think it’s been great to see this conversation around mental and emotional health become a prevalent conversation.

I think it’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic. I think pre-pandemic it really was not something talked about in the workplace. Now it certainly is. And that means that organizations are allowing people to be open about their struggles, make sure they’re getting the support that they need, and make sure that they’re putting resources around that. I think that’s a huge win and needed now more than ever.

I think the challenge is continuing to get organizations to believe that wellbeing really is a business imperative. It’s not like this nice thing we do on the side that doesn’t really have a business consequence. We need to really reframe that, so wellbeing is seen as the foundation to business performance.

I think a lot of organizations are still struggling with that. And the reason I point to that is if you don’t believe that yet, then it’s harder to get the investments. It’s harder to get leaders’ attention. It’s harder to make sure that you’re changing the way you operate day in and day out. And as soon as organizations and leaders start to believe it, it unlocks a whole lot of other things.

What’s your starting point when you’re talking with those folks?

Our journey was both a kind of rational and emotional journey, and I recommend that to clients all the time. Leaders are in essence, people. They’re people charged with fiscal responsibility.

So, they want to understand the financials of it. They do want to understand the impacts. They want to be able to justify the ROI. You have to show up in a way that you can quantify some of that and look at what those returns are. And that, I think, gets them comfortable that they can then do the right thing.

So, EY is a large organization, to say the least, with lots of resources to do this sort of research. How would you adapt that to medium or small organizations that, yes, know the value, but have fewer resources and fewer people to actually act on it?

I think the best place to start is a little bit of a maturity curve assessment and sort of say, hey, listen, we don’t need to be level four out of four.

Let’s understand where we are. We might be a level three or level four on a number of things already, in which case we can sort of say, “Good, we’ve got that in place.” And then if you get to find out you’re earlier in your development on a few things, then you have to prioritize.

You’re going to be our keynote speaker on June 4th for Wellbeing @ Work. What are you most looking forward to about this event here in Grand Rapids?

Inevitably, whenever I get the chance to do this, I learn so much from the people who are a part of the conversation. I walk out with great insights that I can bring to other conversations and bring back into the firm.

We don’t have the market cornered on this by any stretch. I think this is one of those cool spaces where there’s an opportunity to create lift across the board and the sharing benefits everybody.

Talk about why you think people should attend this Talent Solutions Series event and what folks can expect from you.

We’ll talk in a lot more detail about some of the things that we’ve just touched on. And so, we’ll talk a little bit about our journey, what we’re doing at the individual level, and what we’re doing at the organizational level. We’ll also share what we’re seeing in the marketplace that you’ll get a chance to talk to a lot of clients in this space.

But I think the biggest thing is just engage in the conversation with each other. So, what I’m hoping to do is set the table a little bit and give some thought starters around some great group conversation. And I think that’s a lot of where the magic happens.


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