Measure. Act. Repeat.

How The Jed Foundation Boosted Wellbeing During the Pandemic and Beyond

Written by The Jed Foundation

Measure. Act. Repeat.

01 The Jed Foundation is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.

02 At the start of the pandemic, JED leadership enacted new policies to help support staff well-being, such as transitioning to remote work and switching healthcare providers.

03 These new policies, along with conducting yearly assessments with ThriveNYC, has allowed their internal workplace culture to reflect their external values of empathy, belonging, and flourishing.

Over the next few weeks, Made of Millions Foundation will be publishing a collection of essays/articles showcasing how top companies are tackling specific mental health challenges in the workplace. We hope these stories not only drive you to mental health advocacy in your own workplace, but also inspire you to do so in new and creative ways. The first organization we will be highlighting is The Jed Foundation.

As a national mental health nonprofit focused on protecting emotional health and preventing suicide for teens and young adults, The Jed Foundation (JED) prioritizes ensuring that the well-being of its staff is consistently measured and addressed. 

This was further elevated in importance following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a two-fold challenge for JED staff: the need to support the widespread mental health concerns facing JED’s audiences, while simultaneously attending to one’s own physical and emotional well-being.

Given the challenges of understanding staff sentiment in a remote setting, JED’s leadership enacted a series of assessments that resulted in a multitude of policy enhancements targeted at supporting staff well-being. This synergy between feedback and action, coupled with an increased resource commitment and responsiveness, is what JED believes has paved the foundation for a resilient workforce. Since the transition to remote work, JED has retained almost all of its staff and experienced a 87% increase in staff size due to strong programmatic growth and budget sustainability.

Within three weeks of the physical office closure, a staff survey was disseminated to understand short-term logistical and emotional needs. As a result of this survey and in gathering anecdotal feedback from individual check-ins, JED leadership enacted an unlimited paid time off policy for the first two months, added three mental health days in 2021 and incentivized usage through increased roll-over days for 2022, approved staff to work in other states if helpful to family obligations and arrangements, and provided an additional monthly stipend to assist with at-home internet and cell phone costs.

Since the transition to remote work, JED has retained almost all of its staff.

During the summer of 2020, JED also commissioned ThriveNYC to conduct a comprehensive workplace assessment, focused on strengthening employee mental health. A central takeaway was hearing from staff about the need to switch to a more robust healthcare plan, especially in behavioral health, that offered improved coverage and lower costs. JED has since switched to a new provider and enrolled in an employer-funded Health Reimbursement Arrangement that has helped to address outstanding medical costs.

Another piece of feedback was that there were too many weekly meetings, leading to videoconference fatigue and burnout. JED then conducted an internal meetings survey and received important feedback, leading to several changes including the option to keep cameras “off” during select meetings and shortening meeting duration.

...Assessments have served as a continuous accountability tool for senior leadership.

Finally, JED has instituted various mechanisms for senior leadership to consistently gather feedback from the staff. In 2020, JED implemented an annual, end-of-year staff engagement survey utilizing benchmark questions from peer organizations to evaluate overall team culture and manager support, among other topics. Additionally, we have worked closely with a DE&I company called Eskalera to collect metrics on staff belonging and inclusion.

The results of all of these assessments have served as a continuous accountability tool for senior leadership, ensuring that they are hearing directly from staff and attending to their needs. JED’s ongoing goal is to ensure that as the demand for our work in supporting teen and young adult mental health continues to grow, our internal workplace culture is one that reflects the values we espouse of empathy, belonging, and flourishing.

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