Listen to the Make Wellness Part of Your Culture episode at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts.
The Candidate Experience Podcast is hosted by Chuck Solomon. A transcription of this interview is available below.
Together with his guests, Chuck who is on the team at LineHire, discuss the good, bad and ugly of the candidate journey. With emphasis on helping companies strengthen their candidate experience to ultimately improve their employer brand and help job candidates navigate the hiring journey.
Welcome to the …. Making Wellness A Part of Your Culture episode, where my special guest, Om Suthar, Founder of SQRL shares his insights into why wellness is good for both the candidate and employee experience alike.
Pay close attention to what he has to say about making physical, emotional, and financial wellness part of your company’s culture. Even at small and medium sized companies.
If you like what you hear on this podcast please subscribe and share with others. Want to comment, discuss, provide feedback you can send me a note via LI, or via the contact form on our site www. THE CX dot xyz. Thanks for listening and here’s my interview…
Chuck Solomon 0:00
Did you wake up one day and think, Oh, I’m going to create this app that’s going to help with wellness? Or maybe you woke up several nights in a row thinking, a wellness app!
Om Suthar 0:13
Yeah, no, it’s a very, it was a very haphazard and not a straight line at all in that story and how I fell into it. The past four years been working as a designer, focusing on helping people face their financial stress. And those issues, I helped a major major bank basically roll out a nationwide program to talk about your financial stress with the life coach. And it got me to realizing that a lot of the most interesting problems we have lie across industries, and the industry will just get focused on fixing one facet of the problem, but the whole problem doesn’t really get resolved, or even met, and none could be true than financial and physical wellness. And so as I started digging deeper into it, you know, my first prototype that I made was, I harassed about 40 of my friends and family to text me a screenshot of their steps every night. And in the morning, I would text them with the number they didn’t know I had, pretending to be an app, you know, sending on them all kinds of motivation and trying to tie steps to a savings amount. And the theory there was, if I can correlate that maybe if your goals driven, you want to, you know, you’ll be happy about the money that you’re saving, but then there will be this tangential benefit of your getting more active, or vice versa, if you’re more values based. And we learned a lot about psychology of motivation. And, and and I’ll, and I’ll and I’ll say this, the biggest learning was, people already have all the skills they need. It’s not that we ever these apps, and these things don’t really make people do something new, that potentials always lying within you. It’s just Can I get you to look at it in a different way and sustain that new mentality to bring about the change that you desire, even for yourself, right.
Chuck Solomon 2:26
Yeah, I thought I would interject that, you know, I started wearing a Fitbit. Free plug for Fitbit, here. But I started it in December, I think. And one of the things that is sort of Pavlovian, for me is that 10 minutes before every hour, which is going to happen in like five minutes, right now, if I haven’t moved 250 steps in the last hour, it’s going to let me know by buzzing on me. And I know I don’t think I’m tethered to a cord right now. So I don’t think I’m going to be able to get my to 50 steps and this hour there. But it’s it’s actually helped me a lot. And I actually have my family members who actually say, how many steps do you have? And I’m like, I don’t know, they’re like, let’s see your Fitbit. So like I’m required to get show them like my Fitbit. I’m not so and then they say they say to me, You’re lying. I’m like, the Fitbit doesn’t lie. And I’m sorry, I interrupted you.
Om Suthar 3:30
No, no, that’s, that’s actually a great point. Um, Fitbit is a world class company that makes great hardware. The problem that we found, though, was once we launched our consumer app, I’m like, we were like, all right, you know, we had this idea in our minds that we’re going to launch this consumer app, it’s gonna be great, people are going to just love it, and just thousands of people are going to flock to it. That didn’t happen. And was we were scratching our heads when like, what happened? We thought we did everything right. We, you know, built interactively, we concept it and slowly built off the user feedback. And and the insight here was just because you build it, people won’t necessarily come. Because there’s so many fantastic solutions and great products out there. How will your user find it? So when we went exploring that space, the answer to that question is when we really found that workplace is where we’re going to find our users was 190 million Americans in the workforce, roughly, and, and these little little increments really add up. So even if you walk as little as 3000 steps a day, within a year with squirrel, you can save $1,000 for yourself, which 60% of Americans don’t have. Sure, um, and and with the steps, it’s I mean, the 10,000 steps is great rate. But that’s really not the goal. The goal is, if I can get you to just even move 2000 steps more a day and keep it as your habit. That’s an 8% reduction, the risk of chronic cardiovascular diseases. And I think the CDC quoted that if every American walk 10,000 steps a day, the American healthcare economy would say $550 billion every year spent on treating chronic cardiovascular disease. So the impact society is reducing the strain on our healthcare system. But so did I hear you correctly,
Chuck Solomon 5:32
half a trillion dollars saved? If people walk to just 10,000 steps? Is that just the US alone? Or is that worldwide?
Om Suthar 5:41
Now? That’s just US alone? And tha’st annual spend. Yeah.
Chuck Solomon 5:46
Amazing. You had mentioned the whole, I think you were mentioning mindfulness, which is another, I think, huge stress reducer. Can you speak to that and how you’re tracking that?
Om Suthar 6:00
Yeah, absolutely. So that’s a new component that came in, or we realize that between the physical and financial information, there’s still something missing at the core, which is just, hey, we do these things to really improve our level of confidence and happiness with ourselves, right. But what felt wrong was, if I look at my financial goal, or my steps goal, um, happiness shouldn’t be based on an outcome or condition. And we really, sometimes we don’t have the literacy tools to help us learn that I certainly didn’t know this until only a couple years ago, when I started writing a daily gratitude journal. Sure, talking about you know, write five things that every morning that you’re grateful for. So I took a microcosm of that, and I injected into the app. And what it does is, every morning, you review the steps that you took yesterday, you get confidence that like, Hey, I built something, I did something, and it’s recognizing me for it, which is great. And then your first prompt in the day is on record, one thing that you feel grateful for, and then pick an emoji, one of 10, how it makes you feel. So the whole, just the journaling of it takes maybe 10 to 30 seconds at most. And then we visualize that day over day, week, over week time, or month, over month, and in a non judgmental fashion, you get to see how much your your emotions are really fluctuating right. And over time, our hope is, or the intention is it’ll stabilized. And you’ll realize that despite of whatever’s happening, of how many steps you took, or how many how much savings you incurred, your happiness is consistent, and you know where it’s coming from. And that’s what the gratitude really teaches you.
Chuck Solomon 7:52
Sure, tell me, because this, this show is about improving the candidate journey, improving the candidate experience. I think I’ve mentioned to you, in passing that, you know, the reason why I started this is because I just keep hearing about these negative experiences that job candidates are having, and that sort of precipitated me wanting to have an outlet to sort of help help highlight the, you know, better things that are happening. But, you know, how would this impact either the candidate experience or onboarding like in a workplace?
Om Suthar 8:37
Yeah, that’s a great point. So our employers are looking for it. I mean, they can’t compete dollar for dollar with enterprise companies in regards to their benefits, right. And often, employers kind of get positioned right now unfairly as the wrong door in this process, where, honestly, high deductible plan is all that they can afford. And right, the costs are increasing on on them on the employers and the consumers, a level of care is decreasing, and it’s making all this care further out of reach. So what we’re trying to do is help help these businesses find a smart way to tap into things that people are already doing and make wellness part of their culture. So they can make this benefit a lot more. It not just a benefit, but actually more of a culture reinforcement. structure. So what this looks like for remote teams is remote teams sometimes are missing that fabric of something that they do in common all together to discuss right on walking, or something most of us already do. So if we have a leaderboard, we call league where you can, you can select which of your co workers you want to see in compete with. And it’s a weekly challenge. And then you can even actually give likes to people. So maybe, you know, some of your colleagues are just on average that many steps, but you can still reinforce them with a few few likes, and they stay encouraged to stay active. So and then with the slack integration that we’re working on, like we can really make that part of the conversation for remote teams, which is, which is really powerful for labor intensive jobs, like a construction team. This is this is a really flipping the paradigm because we think about, you know, construction workers as these unfit people, but they’re a jerk. They don’t need to go to the gym, their work is at the gym almost right? There’s a lot of effort that goes into into that. And I think what it does is it, but it starts making them think that like, oh, we’re already doing this. And then there’s a democratising effect where like the boss, he has the same health challenge as his employees and his contractors. And they all like kind of realized that that one team in that way, and the small things have a really big impact on the company culture. And so and then ultimately, the other main point is, while when you’re fully insured for the employer, while this doesn’t affect their bottom line directly, because really, the insurance company pays for the, you know, the fluctuation claims in a fully insured environment. At the end of the year, though, that insurance company that sees more claims will increase their deductible on the employer. So this is kind of like, hey, as an employer, I can drive, I can do something about that to at least maintain or lower the chances of that deductible increasing by hat employing a program like this. And we’re working on becoming a government recognized wellness program by the end of this year, so we can help our customers prepare a tax deduction. For whatever they spend on the program, I think, like up to 40%, depending on which state you’re in. So instead of spending like 40 bucks per month per employee for a gym membership, and you don’t know the ROI, or something even more expensive, that’s integrated with your health care program, this is a value add on top of anything, any any health or health insurance program, that costs maybe $60 per employee per year.
Chuck Solomon 12:34
Well, so I get it, I get it, if you want to express your company culture, which I think that’s what job seekers are, they’re looking for, they could go to work anywhere, if they have certain skills, pretty much, but what they’re looking for what they’re really looking, what I hear is that they’re, you know, they’re looking for a culture, a culture, that they can be supportive them and then having a culture that is maybe they aren’t the fittest, but they know they want to be fitter, I think is is a admirable goal, for sure.
Om Suthar 13:16
Yeah, absolutely. Our our motto kind of for our program is we have a bias towards action. So in the end, the reason for that is, you know, the the part of your brain that does computation, and stores the memory of like what you did earlier today isn’t the part of the brain that stores the memory of your habits. And so by doing and nudging, and using positive psychology and building, we rather just teach you by doing rather than teach you by telling, and that’s where the effect of these programs, our program is really Layton, it’s not going to look like a hockey stick curve where everyone’s running a marathon in a week. But what it does look like on average, over 166 days, our users are have at least added 2000 steps to to their habit, and then in tangentially significantly reduced their financial stress, because now they’ve at least saved 400 bucks within half a year with the app which again, 40% of Americans don’t even have that for an emergency spend without borrowing. That’s where we’re unique in how we define holistic wellness. Because we’re empowering, we’re drawing a straight line between physical, emotional, and financial. wellness.
Chuck Solomon 14:40
Gotcha. I’m I don’t know if it’s too early to tell. But do you have like any analytics from the employers that are in your pilots?
Om Suthar 14:51
We are here there’s in? Yeah, I think the hardest work we’re putting in right now with before finishing our pilot is really to taking all the strain of maintaining a wellness program and having fresh challenges every week, out of the hands of the benefits manager, because really, when you’re a small team, you’re already strapped for time and resources. So we’re automating everything end to end. And just making it as simple as possible. And taking all the friction out. One of the biggest pieces of feedback that we’ve got from our our employers is that
it’s had this effect on even the kind of snacks and things that people have had around the office. And it’s inspired them to have new practices where they’re having like, walking 1010 meetings, rather than sitting down and being sedentary. So people are taking this and really running it running with it and making it their own, which which we love to hear. Sure.
Chuck Solomon 15:54
I’m a little bit of nuts and bolts here is is doesn’t require wire another piece of hardware like a Fitbit tracker, or, or does it just work within the app?
Om Suthar 16:06
No, that’s the best part. We don’t proprietary eyes, your health data. In fact, we just integrate to read the health data from either Apple Health or Google Fit. So that’s from your phone. But if you have one of those respective wearables, we read from that data as well. And of course, you can download that data from those apps. At any point, we’re just reading it. So it’s not that like, you know, now it’s become our intellectual property or anything like that we’re, we’re very quickly clear about the use of the data that we have access to and how it’s used.
Chuck Solomon 16:44
That’s good to hear. So it seems like great stuff here. And I definitely see how this would especially benefit those, as you mentioned sort of strapped HR professionals that are, you know, they’ve got, they’ve got to worry about onboarding, and recruiting and and benefits management and stuff like this, this seems like a pretty much a no brainer and stuff if they want to add something to not only the sort of the candidate experience, but also, you know, the employee experience as well. So sounds great. Good stuff here.
Om Suthar 17:23
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we just want to make sure you know, even if we want to improve the candidate experience, you can’t just solve for one person, you’ve got to solve for everyone. And that’s what we’re trying to do. Excellent. So if, um, if people want to get in touch with you or learn about more about your product, how would they do that? That’s a great question. So our website is going to go through a revamp, or will have a form to fill out to get in touch. But until then, you can reach out to me via our website, that we do have a contact born. And our website is squirrel.me. So it’s HTTPS. The www.sqrl.me squirrel.me.
Chuck Solomon 18:13
Gotcha. Thank you so much.
Om Suthar 18:16
Thank you for having me. And I really look forward to you know, following your podcast and I think you’re doing a great thing surfacing the candidate experience.
Chuck Solomon 18:28
Thank you Om. Have a great day.