As ViacomCBS moves forward with a holistic business model, the newly merged company also is taking a holistic approach to caring for its employees’ health.
“We want to continue all the incredible work the [Viacom and CBS] teams have done to ensure we are supporting our associates the best possible way, and helping them with a 360 view—not just the professional side but all aspects of their lives,” says Nancy Phillips, EVP and Chief People Officer, who joined in December just as the merger was finalized. Before that, she spent three years as EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer at Nielsen.
“The cool thing I have found is there is great work on both sides. While one legacy company may have leaned into more on eldercare and the other more on maternity benefits, both had been doing incredible work and building partnerships. Now it’s about seeing what our associates really want and how do we build out the best possible plan by cherry-picking the best offerings and embarking on some new things,” she adds.
The new playbook establishes an environment where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. At ViacomCBS, healthcare encompasses physical, mental, emotional and financial aspects. It comprises extended parental benefits, and a range of services such as health screenings, a daylong Sleep Fest and a Health & Wellness Fair, among other perks.
On the mental and emotional care front, ViacomCBS offers well more than healthcare coverage that includes access to in-network behavioral health specialists. The company has an onsite employee assistance program (EAP) in several of its offices, which provides direct access to mental health clinicians. It also offers 24/7 on-demand EAP assistance, counseling and emotional health coaching via text, as well as access to mindfulness app Headspace. The remote access has been particularly important for the media company because many of its employees, particularly reporters, are dispatched around the world, Phillips says.
“Mental and emotional health is something that is continuing to emerge. Many more people are comfortable talking about the challenges they have, and we want to be there to support our employees’ wellness in that regard and making sure they have access to all those things,” she says.
Financial wellness also is core to the company’s support for its workforce. ViacomCBS employees have access to third-party-certified financial planners, robust tuition reimbursement and legal assistance.
In the realm of physical health, onsite amenities range from a full-service gym on the Paramount lot in L.A, to a Wellness Studio at its NYC headquarters—each offering workout classes and training sessions throughout the day—and pop-up classes at various regional offices. ViacomCBS also has a teaching kitchen in its NY HQ that provides daily healthy and creative cooking lessons for employees.
The company also hosts tentpole events throughout the year. The annual weeklong Wellness Festival, for example, includes everything from in-office flu shots and biometrics to therapy puppies to a meditation tent to stretch and compression leg relaxation stations. The one-day Sleep Fest, which this year will expand to other offices beyond New York, features sleep specialists, RhinoMed sleep solution demos and an activation with NuCalm to recharge energy and reduce stress.
ViacomCBS also dives deep on family care, offering employees not only flexible work arrangements, but access to Progyny, which provides fertility coverage; 2nd MD, which helps employees access second opinion doctors; and Nurse Line, for 24/7 access to nurses. The company also connects employees with lactation consultants 24/7, offers free milk shipping via Milk Stork for those returning to work who need to travel while lactating, provides access to programs like ReThink, which helps families care for children with special needs, and a variety of services to help employees care for aging family members.
“Eldercare is something you don’t see that often at other companies, and it’s so important to be there to provide support and care for loved ones that need it as they age,” Phillips tells CFX. “This is an area we certainly will continue to build out.”
To ensure ViacomCBS is evolving its healthcare options as best suits its employees, Phillips and her team next year will conduct an extensive benefits survey. “This gives people the opportunity to say, ‘I care about this more than that,’ and we’ll end up with the three or four things that are most important to our workforce and focus on those,” she says. “And with that, we will also find out the things that are not as important, so we’ll be able to transition our investments.”
– Cathy Applefeld Olson