4 LA Companies Focusing on Happiness

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Built In LA caught up with four local employers that recognize the importance of holistic well-being and are providing their employees the resources they need to be happy and healthy.

Written by Taylor Rose
Published on May. 16, 2024
4 LA Companies Focusing on Happiness
Photo: Shutterstock
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In 2011, the UN General Assembly made a formal request. It asked every member country to add a new consideration when policies were made — happiness. 

It might sound whimsical or even silly, but the UN was very serious. The General Assembly wanted leaders around the world to start measuring the happiness of their citizens and making laws that could improve that happiness. 

Happiness is, of course, subjective; even the researchers behind the The World Happiness Report know that. Which is why the team behind the 2024 report chose to measure happiness and well-being with a self-reported “life evaluation.” The researchers took six key variables into account when they were assessing the answers to these “life evaluations” across different countries — GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity and corruption. 

A lot of interesting insights surfaced from the 2024 report. The United States dropped from ranking as the 15th happiest country in the world, down to number 23. The United States also saw a drop in happiness among young people, while Central and Eastern Europe saw an increase in the same age group. 

Perhaps the most valuable insight is much broader. A happiness index can be a policymaker’s — and employer’s — ultimate guide to making things better. 

Take the six key variables, for example. The workplace can provide nearly all of them: GDP per capita can be addressed partially with equal pay; colleagues can offer substantial social support; a healthy life expectancy can be a direct result of workplace perks that make things like healthcare, exercise and healthy food easier to access; autonomy at work can greatly add to someone’s sense of freedom; and having the time to volunteer on the clock helps employees be more generous. 

Built In Los Angeles found four companies that are rising to the happiness index challenge and making employee well-being a top priority. 

 

First Entertainment Credit Union

Janet Gaspard
SVP and Chief People Officer • First Entertainment Credit Union

First Entertainment Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution that supports creators of entertainment. 

 

How does First Entertainment Credit Union stand out in the financial industry in terms of investing in employee health? 

Across the financial industry, many employers have mandated their employees return to the office full-time or are reducing the flexibility of telecommuting. As a result, we are witnessing a spike in talent undergoing a second round of stress as they struggle to realign the routine they established during Covid-19 to the employers’ expectations. 

Here at FirstEnt, we remain remote first, onsite second. Many of our teammates continue to be afforded the opportunity to work remote for the majority of the time. We too recognize the importance of human connections, so we carefully cultivate a very robust and meaningful education centered around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging as well as an employee experience calendar. These allow our teammates to socialize and build stronger relationships when they are together in person while creating inclusive opportunities to participate even while remote. 

At its core, we embody wholeheartedly the idea of “people helping people.” We apply that principle internally and really make it part of our DNA to be  supportive of our employees and their extended family. Our people leaders are empowered to make operational decisions to support people’s needs and their work/life balance outside the office.

 

The last couple of years have been especially taxing on people’s physical and mental health. How has First Entertainment Credit Union expanded its benefits offerings to support employees’ needs?

Over the last few years, we have steadfastly evaluated our programs to ensure we are meeting people’s needs. To that end, we have boarded an employer-paid employee assistance program to provide additional counseling services. Everyone also receives a subscription to the well-known Calm app to promote mental health management in a self-managing manner.

Further, we recognize the ability of “giving back” can be impactful to one’s mental well-being. We have introduced a paid volunteer time-off program where our employees get to give back during work time to the causes and communities that are meaningful to them. 

In 2023, we also rolled out a comprehensive new parent program, which is a rare offering in our space. We are proud of our working parents and we want to provide that additional layer of support. This program was particularly crucial since 60 percent of our population is millennial. The institution of this benefit has rendered overwhelming positive results as our new parents get to focus on taking care of their physical wellbeing and mental transition into the new chapter. 

Next up is to learn more about neurodivergence because the more we are informed, the better we are without causing undue stress to others.

 

“In 2023, we rolled out a comprehensive new parent program, which has rendered overwhelming positive results.”

 

 

System1

Kaitlin Carmichael
Learning and Development Manager • System1

System1 is an omnichannel customer acquisition platform. The company builds desktop and mobile apps, search engines and online publications.

 

How does System1 support employee well-being? 

At System1, we care deeply about our teams’ well-being and constantly work to improve our practices to help support them. We offer comprehensive health insurance plans that include mental health care with low copays. We have an employee assistance program with 24/7 resources and support, including short-term counseling until the employee can set up regular therapy sessions. 

We also provide generous paid time off and open sick time, which can be used for physical or mental health issues. To help our team stay active, which supports mental health, we provide fitness centers and a monthly fitness subsidy for things like personal training, gyms, yoga and pilates studios. 

Other benefits include free access to the Calm app for guided meditations, sleep stories and other forms of mental health and stress-reduction support. We also offer frequent in-house classes for stress reduction, meditation, nervous system regulation and other topics that support mental and physical well-being. 

Every Mental Health Awareness Month, System1 connects employees to resources to support their mental well-being, including professional massages to help the team relax and release tension.
 

“We offer frequent in-house classes for stress reduction, meditation, nervous system regulation and other topics that support mental and physical well-being.”

 

The last couple of years have been especially taxing on people’s physical and mental health. How does System1 support employee mental health, in particular? 

In addition to all of the benefits described above, System1 works hard to make our company a psychologically safe place for all employees. One way we do this is by providing training to managers on how to create team cultures that are inclusive. We have also expanded the amount of resources we offer, including live virtual classes that address topics like regulating your nervous system, increasing emotional intelligence, how to meditate, how to have difficult conversations and how to deliver feedback effectively. 

Additionally, all employees have access to the entire LinkedIn Learning library that has over 16,000 courses, many of which address things like stress reduction, sleep, meditation, and improving physical and mental health. We also have different events throughout the year that encourage employees to address their physical and mental health needs by getting more movement, connecting with one another and taking breaks.

 

 

Million Dollar Baby Co.

Julia Yip
SVP of Talent Management • Million Dollar Baby Co.

Million Dollar Baby Co. is an e-commerce company that makes children’s furniture. Today, Million Dollar Baby Co. has grown to seven distinct brands ranging in style, aesthetic and price point. 

 

What are some of the key ways Million Dollar Baby Co. invests in the well-being of employees? 

At Million Dollar Baby Co., we prioritize our employees’ holistic well-being through a range of comprehensive benefits and initiatives. Our mental health support is robust, offering free counseling sessions, access to a 24/7 employee assistance program, and mindfulness and meditation apps. 

Additionally, we promote work-life balance with generous paid time off, a flexible hybrid work schedule and companywide Wellness Fridays. Our wellness program includes fitness reimbursements, healthy office snacks and engaging wellness challenges.

We understand the impact of financial stress, so we offer personal financial wellness sessions covering budgeting, debt management and more. To encourage downtime, we provide travel stipends of $500 for domestic trips and $1,000 for international travel. These investments empower our employees to prioritize their mental, physical and emotional well-being, enabling them to thrive both personally and professionally.
 

“To encourage downtime, we provide travel stipends of $500 for domestic trips and $1,000 for international travel.”

 

The last couple of years have been especially taxing on people’s physical and mental health. How has Million Dollar Baby Co. adapted its benefits offerings to meet employees where they are?

Recognizing the unique challenges of recent years, we’ve swiftly adapted and expanded our benefits to better support our employees. We’ve increased education on benefits and launched a mental health speaker series to provide valuable resources. Additionally, we implemented a pandemic pay policy, offering extra paid time off for Covid-related reasons.

Our flexible hybrid work policy has been enhanced to cater to employees’ preferences, whether they choose in-office or hybrid arrangements. 

We’ve actively worked to destigmatize mental health discussions through companywide initiatives and training. Clear and frequent communication has been crucial during this time. Our leadership team has created space for open dialogue around mental health, shared resources, sent care packages and reassured employees that their well-being is our top priority. We remain committed to maintaining this level of holistic support.

 

 

Jessica Rickey
Employee Engagement Specialist • MobilityWare

MobilityWare is a mobile game development company. 

 

What does employee well-being look like at MobilityWare? 

At MobilityWare, employee well-being is a top priority. We recognize that it fosters a positive work environment, an attribute that’s vital in a creative industry like mobile gaming. MobilityWare offers all full-time employees benefit options through Cigna, flexible PTO and a hybrid work model. In terms of mental health, something that far too often can be overlooked when discussing wellness, Cigna has great resources that are free for our team members. 

MobilityWare knows balance is key to maintaining a happy workforce. The company offers team members the opportunity to achieve their career goals while making time for fun with their co-workers with our company events like picnics, trips, holiday events and game nights. 

Educational growth opportunities are another factor in employee well-being. When employees feel supported and encouraged to learn, they develop the skills necessary to pursue their desired career. LinkedIn Learning challenges are offered quarterly and all team members are encouraged to learn through bitesize videos. When employee health is a company’s focus like at MobilityWare, you have to ensure that you look at wellness in a truly comprehensive manner.

 

The last couple of years have been especially taxing on people’s physical and mental health. How does MobilityWare evolve with the needs of employees?

Our MobilityWare Care campaign is a newer program wherein the company hosts several wellness events throughout the year. One of the most popular events from last year was the Puppy Cuddle Corner. This wellness event allows employees to play and cuddle with puppies — you heard correctly, puppy snuggles at the office. 

Since the event was so well received and dogs have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression we’ve decided to bring back our Puppy Cuddle Corner event in May for Mental Health Awareness Month. 
 

“One of the most popular events from last year was the Puppy Cuddle Corner. You heard correctly, puppy snuggles at the office.”

 

Other successful events that have been put on for our team members include onsite preventative screenings, flu shots, complimentary chair massages and even a sound bath. MobilityWare plans to continue to host these events where our team members have an opportunity to take a moment during their work day to focus on their wellness and do something to improve their health. 

In 2024, we are also renewing our focus on charity and community service. Research has shown that volunteering is good for the mind and body. These events will offer an opportunity to build connections between team members, give back to the local community and reduce stress and anxiety.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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