An Interview With Workplace Options’ CEO Alan King on Supporting the Center, Pride, and a Diverse Workforce
We are excited to announce that Workplace Options (WPO) is returning as the presenting Sponsor of our annual pride event: Out! Raleigh Pride presented by Workplace Options. We are so proud to continue our partnership with this important global provider of wellbeing solutions, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. We recently asked WPO’s President and Chief Executive Officer Alan King to reflect on the company’s four decades of impact.
The Center: Workplace Options has long had a commitment to LGBTQ+ communities, can you share the origin of that commitment?
Alan King: WPO shares the LGBT Center of Raleigh’s vision of an inclusive world “where LGBTQ+ people are thriving, equal, and valued members of society.” As a leading global provider of wellbeing solutions, we know that when people are unable to be their authentic selves, it can have a negative impact on multiple areas of life, including emotional wellbeing. Likewise, people can flourish in environments where they can be true to themselves.
The Center: Workplace Options has been a supporter of the Center since we were founded, and a strong supporter of the community at large. While you’ve been very generous with nonprofit organizations financially, what are some of the other ways you and your talent give back?
Alan King: The most impactful way WPO serves the global community is through its First Serve program. First Serve is a core philosophy and commitment that any individual who reaches out to WPO for emotional support, regardless of the circumstances, will receive the in-the-moment help they need. We will never turn anyone away. Additionally, all WPO employees are given WPO Cares cards that can be gifted to anyone in need of emotional support, whether it be an extended family member, friend or even stranger. The card provides instructions on how to reach out to WPO for confidential, complimentary emotional support. Last month, as part of WPO Cares, we launched our 2022 Impact Project which will match our 14 global service centers with local charities identified and selected by our employees. We are committed to giving of our time, talent and treasures to these organizations.
The Center: The Triangle Business Journal has often recognized WPO as one of the “healthiest workplace” in the region. What are some of the leading practices you’ve adopted that other employers could also implement?
Alan King: Our workplace wellbeing strategy encompasses physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as other key areas of wellbeing – financial, professional, practical, social connection and workplace safety. We provide our employees with resources and services in each of these areas. In the last year, we’ve enhanced our professional wellbeing offering to include opportunities for employees to job shadow for a day or participate in a longer career experience by working within another department for an extended period of time. Giving employees a different view of the organization, from another employee’s perspective, has many benefits for both the employee and WPO. Employees benefit from seeing potential career pathways and making connections with colleagues in other departments. Likewise, WPO benefits from the cross-departmental collaboration and information sharing that takes place.
The Center: What approach would you suggest for an employer who wants to go even further on the diversity, equity, and inclusion journey?
Alan King: I would encourage employers to involve their employees in discussions on how to best expand DEI efforts. At WPO, we have a very active Diversity and Inclusion committee that is open to any WPO employee to join. They have created a number of helpful resources and opportunities for WPO employees. One of the strengths of this group is that it is so diverse itself and the individuals involved are extremely passionate about their efforts to educate and transform.
The Center: If Workplace Options could send an email to the chief executive or owner of every business in the world, what would be at the heart of your message?
Alan King: I would remind organizational leaders that most employees spend the majority of their waking hours working on behalf of their employer. A safe and emotionally healthy workplace is incredibly important. Not only is it the right thing to do, but study after study show that companies who are intentional in their efforts to create a positive work environment reap gains in terms of productivity, creativity and retention.