Newspaper article

Company-Wide Culture Shift Earns Beehive PR an American Psychological Association Award

Newspaper article

Company-Wide Culture Shift Earns Beehive PR an American Psychological Association Award

Article excerpt

How do you remake a workplace to promote strong employee mental health?

If you're Lisa Hannum, president and CEO of Beehive, a small St. Paul-based PR firm, you start with yourself, making key adjustments to the way you run your business -- and live your life.

"I really understood that if our company was going to change for the better, the change had to start with me," Hannum said. "And I had to commit to what these changes needed to be personally."

Hannum, who launched Beehive as a "strategic boutique shop" in 1998 after a career in public relations and corporate communications at Carmichael Lynch, and Bozell, saw the need to improve her company's support for the emotional well-being of its employees.

"It was 2010," she recalled. "We were mid-economic recession. Like everyone else in the industry, we were experiencing fast and continuous change. We knew that the changes we were seeing were going to be permanent shifts that were going to be the new normal when businesses started to come out of the recession. We needed to adapt in order to stay healthy as a company."

To respond to what she anticipated would be an eventual cultural shift toward leaner, more employee-centered workplaces, Hannum wanted to create a company with a portfolio of unique benefits that would draw valuable, balanced workers -- and offer existing employees an environment that supported loyalty and positive emotional health.

First she looked within, working with business consultant Maryanne O'Brien, founder of the Minneapolis-based business development firm Live Dynamite.

"I focused on every aspect of energy: physical, mental, emotional," Hannum said. "My well-being needed to be front and center." Personal changes that Hannum eventually adopted included getting more sleep. ("It's made a huge difference for me," she said.) She also improved her eating habits, and, "broke a really impressive Diet Coke habit." She also meditates every day, and taught herself to "cycle" her work patterns, focusing her attention and energy in concentrated bursts interrupted with breaks for movement and conversation.

O'Brien said Hannum deserves kudos for her commitment to seeing the change through in all aspects of her personal and business life.

"Lisa said, 'I want to create a culture that supports people and I want to keep developing our talents,' " O'Brien recalled. "Business owners know that attraction and retention of the right people makes business grow and thrive. It is not easy work. It comes through personal development and growth and a wiliness to invest in yourself."

Once Hannum made improvements to her own emotional health, she began working with senior staff to make changes within the larger company designed to promote the emotional health of all employees.

The company's mental health improvement efforts -- which included an office remodel, featuring a meditation room with wireless barriers, free weekly yoga classes, a monthly professional development sessions led by O'Brien, cardio workout space and a cafe with free fresh fruit and other healthy snacks, also extended to workplace policies like flex time, access to high-quality technology and generous PTO. …

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