Eco-wellbeing, rewards, and global impact with Ryan Josephs

environmental rewards

Participants

Ryan Josephs: Head of Partnerships at Heka
Isabella Madrid Malo: Content Manager at Dots.eco

What is this episode about?

Welcome to the fourth episode of the Land, Oceans, and Business podcast! In this episode, host Isabella interviews Ryan Josephs, the Head of Partnerships at Heka, a cutting-edge rewards platform focused on employee wellbeing and sustainability. Ryan shares insights into Heka’s mission to provide over 5,000 benefits aimed at enhancing employee wellbeing, including mental health support, gym memberships, and financial assistance. He highlights Heka’s commitment to sustainability by partnering with eco-conscious brands and promoting initiatives like Green Friday over Black Friday.

Questions covered

  • Tell us more about you and about your company!
  • Can you tell us about Heka’s sustainability and well-being initiatives?
  • Have you seen any results in terms of your company’s reputation or customer loyalty thanks to the wellbeing/sustainability focus?
  • Why is well-being for employees (at the mental health level as well as eco-mentality level) essential now a days?
  • How do you see wellbeing for employees becoming increasingly important now and in the future?
  • What do you think it’s the role of companies when it comes to adding their part for the planet?
  • Beyond the workplace, what personal steps do you take in your daily life to reduce your carbon footprint and promote sustainability?
  • How can people get connected with you/Heka Happy if they want to learn more? 

Podcast Audio

Podcast Transcript

Isabella: Welcome to Land, Oceans, and Business, where we explore the power of sustainability in the world of for-profit organizations and NGOs. On each episode, we’ll be bringing in different guests, both from the business and non-profit world. Each of them will have a new story to tell on their sustainability journey at their personal and professional level. Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Isabella, your podcast host. Sit back, relax, and let’s make the world a better place together.

Isabella: Hi everybody. Welcome to the Land, Oceans, and Business podcast. This is our fourth episode. I have to say, I’m feeling pretty hyped about the guest coming in today. Meet Ryan Josephs, head of partnerships at Heka, an incredible rewards platform offering over 5,000 benefits to employees with a focus on wellbeing. You might be wondering, what does all of this have to do with environmental sustainability? Well, we started to collaborate with Heka to offer employees a possibility to do good for the planet. If you can’t see the direct connection between wellbeing and environmentalism just yet, I really hope that by the end of the episode, you’ll have a better idea. In the podcast, we’ll be covering topics from conscious businesses to the importance of wellbeing in times of planetary stress. Of course, we’ll go personal with Ryan on his lifestyle connected to it. Sustainability excites me the most. So, without further ado, let’s get the session started. Ryan, welcome to the Land, Oceans, and Business podcast. We’re happy to have you here.

Ryan: Thank you so much for having me. Hopefully, I can share some useful insights that your listeners can take and maybe implement into their own lives or at least into their organizations.

Isabella: Absolutely exciting. So, to start, Ryan, tell us a bit about you and about your company. What does Heka do?

Ryan: Yeah. As you mentioned, I’m head of the partnership side of things at Heka. We have a team where we look for the latest and best wellbeing benefits in order to add into our ecosystem of network partners. We have 5,000 experiences that enable our members to get the best for their wellbeing across a range of different topics, which I’ll discuss a little bit later. In terms of Heka, and giving you a very quick overview, I believe we’re like the modern-day employee benefit solution for organizations. We improve the individual’s access to a wide range of employee benefit solutions, from mental health support to gym memberships, learning and development, and financial support. We do all of this while making life easier for organizations by reducing the admin that companies face, combining multiple benefits into one marketplace in a personalized way for the individual employee. Currently, benefits are often selected based on what’s easiest to implement and what is a one-size-fits-all approach, which we know doesn’t work. Heka’s main mission is to ensure that each individual employee has access to a benefit that is meaningful to them and impacts their wellbeing from a physical, mental, or developmental standpoint.

Isabella: That’s amazing. I was also checking your website earlier this week and I saw how inclusive you are. You’re not just covering trends from five years ago, but you’re constantly keeping track of what is happening and trying to cover all the benefits that are needed to include as many people as possible. I think the mission is beautiful. Ryan, can you tell us a bit about Heka’s sustainability and wellbeing initiatives? The wellbeing part is quite self-explanatory, but if you want to dive a bit deeper now, I think this could be a great moment to bring in the sustainability aspect of things.

Ryan: Yeah, for sure. And it’s interesting you touched on wellbeing initiatives and not being static, right? Things move on and there are trends, but there are also staples in wellbeing. We recently released an article on the 2024 and 2023 wellbeing trends, which we produce year on year to give employees and organizations insight into what is trending in employee wellbeing. In terms of Heka and our sustainability and wellbeing initiatives, it goes without saying we’re a wellbeing benefit, so we have lots of initiatives. What’s interesting is how we’re able to combine those initiatives with a sustainability focus. For example, we work in partnership with Dots.eco, which has been an amazing partnership allowing our employees to use their wellbeing budget to support environmental changes across the world and also to provide those as gifts to people they love and care about. We’ve seen really good feedback from that.

We don’t encourage people to just purchase things unconsciously for the sake of purchasing things. We don’t engage in practices such as buying on Black Friday, where we promote overconsumption. We try to make our employees or our members aware of their behaviors and the changes they can make to their behaviors through educational content, via newsletters, and articles from our partners about the impact their practices can have from a sustainability point of view. Another initiative we have is something called Green Friday, where we make sure that instead of just promoting the cheapest product or the trending product, we promote our partners who are having a huge environmental impact and a positive change on our planet. We have a number of brands who are B Corp certified, who are doing their bit for the planet. For us, it’s about giving them as much coverage as possible and educating our users to the best of our ability.

Isabella: Amazing. That’s great. I think sustainability is not just about making an impact, but also doing it correctly. It’s not about promoting capitalism and consumption all the time. You mentioned Black Friday, which for us is a complete disaster of a day for the planet. For many, it’s the best day of the year for purchase and overconsumption, but for us environmentalists, it’s a disaster that causes a lot of planetary distress. I’m really happy to hear that Heka is not involved with this, but also bringing in Green Friday that does good for the planet while also doing good for your business in a more conscious way.

Ryan: I think you can do good for the planet, do good for the organization, and do good for your own wellbeing as well. A lot of the initiatives we roll out can be done simultaneously. For example, we have initiatives where people do litter picking as part of an effort. Not only are you going out and clearing up your local environment, reducing waste, but you’re also getting moving. Currently, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is movement. We know the impact that just getting out and doing stuff has on your mental wellbeing, let alone having a positive impact on your environment by reducing waste. The feedback we get is employees have access to this stuff via Heka, but they didn’t know about it beforehand. We’re trying to bridge that gap in terms of education and making sure people are aware of the initiatives they can access through their employee benefit.

Isabella: Absolutely. This discussion made me think about eco-anxiety. Have you heard about that term?

Ryan: Yes, and you can see it playing out. Many activists are genuinely in a state of anxiety about the state of the planet. To help reduce the burden on these individuals and our planet, it’s about awareness and making people understand that it’s not up to somebody else to solve this problem. We created it and it’s on us. We’re clever enough to fix it, but it starts with everyone making small changes. I know we’ll talk about individual impacts later, but that’s a brief summary of why I think it’s so important. Companies are talking more about these issues, which is great, but we need companies and individuals to act as well. Talking and raising awareness is the first step. Action and implementation are what we need now.

Isabella: Absolutely. I remember in London, Olafur Eliasson, an artist who tries to bring environmental awareness through art, brought a massive piece of ice to the middle of London and left it to melt. It was an incredible way to raise awareness, but it also creates a sense of distress. Seeing the crisis melt in front of you can be quite alarming. This is where companies like Heka come in, enabling people to do something about it in a way that helps their mental health and the environment. It’s crucial, especially for Gen Z, who are feeling more and more the impact of this.

Ryan: For sure. Gen Z is experiencing higher levels of anxiety than previous generations, and it’s not surprising with everything going on in the world. Rather than invoking fear, we should focus on how we can inspire change. Scaring people often results in paralysis rather than action. We aim to inspire positive changes and make people aware that they can make a difference.

Isabella: Yes, absolutely. You mentioned the importance of individual action, but I’m also interested in the impact on your company’s reputation and customer loyalty due to your focus on wellbeing and sustainability. Have you seen any results?

Ryan: It’s hard to measure in numbers, but we have clear indicators that our environmental impact has resulted in a positive experience for Heka in terms of customer retention and recommendations. We work with a number of B Corp-certified brands. For example, Ocean Bottle, which clears up ocean plastic and remakes reusable bottles, started as a partner and then became a client. They saw the benefits of Heka and decided to offer it to their team. The same happened with Ocushield, which focuses on blue light glasses. They saw the positive impact and became a client. Doing good for the environment has resulted in us doing better as a business and connecting with the right type of companies.

Isabella: That’s great to hear. Consumers nowadays are asking for more wellbeing in the workspace and sustainable practices. It’s crucial for businesses to listen to these demands. I see more and more content about tackling greenwashing. How does Heka ensure that your partners are genuinely sustainable?

Ryan: Greenwashing is indeed a

challenge. We have a rigorous vetting process for all our partners. We look for evidence to support their claims and ensure they fit our needs. We avoid companies that make wild claims without evidence. Our process includes market research and ensuring the partners align with our mission. We also get recommendations from our members, who are increasingly suggesting sustainable brands.

Isabella: That’s excellent. It’s so easy to fall into greenwashing, especially with the sustainability wave. It’s important to have a thorough vetting process. What do you think is the role of companies in contributing to sustainability?

Ryan: We all have a responsibility to ensure a sustainable future. Companies play a significant role by leading the way and practicing what they preach. It’s about making changes, even small ones, and educating staff about sustainable practices. While it’s challenging for some industries, companies need to act and inspire their employees to think about their impact.

Isabella: Yes, businesses have a significant role to play, especially the big ones causing most harm. It’s about voting with our wallets and supporting ethical practices. What steps are you personally taking to reduce your carbon footprint?

Ryan: I’m not perfect, but I try. I cycle as my main method of transport, which is better for my health and the environment. I avoid buying new stuff and opt for second-hand items. I also try to reduce food waste by meal prepping and using meal prep services like Gusto. I’m conscious of my meat consumption and try to have veggie days. These are some of the steps I take.

Isabella: That’s great. Consumerism is a tough habit to break, but you’re doing a fantastic job. It’s about finding a balance and doing the best we can. How can people get connected with you or Heka if they want to learn more?

Ryan: You can find Heka at hekahappy.com. We’re also on LinkedIn and Instagram. If you want to connect with me, my LinkedIn is Ryan Josephs. It’s been great chatting with you. Thanks for having me.

Isabella: Thank you for joining, Ryan. It was a great episode. I’m excited to see it released.


If you liked this episode, check out the rest of them here. You can find our podcast on Spotify and Youtube @Land, Oceans, & Business.

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