February 23, 2022  |  by Lightfully Behavioral Health

Working at Lightfully Behavioral Health feels different from day one. For example, are you used to working a 40-hour week as a therapist? Not at Lightfully. We pay you for 40, but you work 32.

If that seems counterintuitive, that’s the point. Lightfully is different. Employee health is just as important as client health.

“Therapists are the new nurses,” says Clodagh Rafferty, Chief Operating Officer at Lightfully. “There’s such a shortage.

Not only has demand skyrocketed during the pandemic, says Rafferty, but clients are facing more acute and serious illness.

“Compassion fatigue has become a significant problem,” she continues. “We’ve been very thoughtful about creating an environment that enables our therapists to take care of their own mental health first.”

It doesn’t stop at hours or salary. In fact, it doesn’t start there either. It begins with a culture founded in transparency, authenticity, and vulnerability.

“Our goal is to create a magnetic company culture,” says Rafferty. “Not just a company you’ll stick to, but one you’re literally drawn to.”

This isn’t a slogan plastered on the wall outside HR. It’s data-driven—cultural performance is just as important to Lightfully’s leadership as company growth.

“We knew that to do this well,” explains Rafferty, “we had to be able to measure it.”

But how? It starts with Lightfully’s three pillars of culture: Connect, Nourish, and Grow. Under each pillar are five tactics—called cultural practices—that leaders track week to week and month to month.

Here’s a look at what they are, how they’re measured, and how they collectively create a first-of-its-kind model for mental health care—for clients and employees alike.

Pillar #1: Connect

Why It’s Important: When team members fully see and trust one another, they devote mental and emotional energy to coming together as a team to treat our clients, rather than exhausting themselves by armoring up in self-protection.

“We want to create a sense of belonging where people know they can show up authentically and be vulnerable,” explains Rafferty. “We want our team to be more committed to speaking up than not rocking the boat.”

How does Lightfully measure connection? Five ways:

Culture practice #1: Hold compassion for yourself and others
How it’s measured: Every employee completes the Enneagram, a personality assessment that helps employees understand their strengths and weaknesses so that they can better relate to others.

Culture practice #2: Practice vulnerability
How it’s measured: On monthly calls, senior executives present mistakes they made, how they navigated them, and what they learned. “It’s important that the team see the fallibility of their leaders,” says Rafferty.

Culture practice #3: Create and reinforce psychological safety
How it’s measured: Clinical site leaders discuss real-time challenges each week with c-suite executives, and brainstorm solutions together.

Culture practice #4: Consistently recognize contributions
How it’s measured: Each month, teams celebrate employees who demonstrate Lightfully’s 7 Shining Commitments:

  • Compassion: Approach everything with empathy and kindness.
  • Sparkle: “Show up with positivity and possibility,” explains Rafferty. “Give hope without ignoring the obvious.”
  • Wabi sabi: Appreciate beauty and accept imperfection.
  • Wholehearted: Be authentic and committed.
  • Grit: Show up and do hard things.
  • Clear is kind: “Be kind but also don’t beat around the bush,” says Rafferty.
  • Be brave: Choose courage over comfort.

In addition, leaders send personal emails to employees who are recognized each month.

Culture practice #5: Model the importance of play
How it’s measured: Leaders create departmental and site-specific rituals and cultural touchstones; these practices create structure and bind teams together.

Pillar #2: Nourish

Why It’s Important: “We want to ensure our employees have the time and knowledge to take care of themselves, so they can actually be innovative, creative, and have an impact on our clients,” says Rafferty. “So, it’s mental health, physical health, tech, protecting people’s family time—all those things.”

Here’s how Lightfully measures nourishment:

Culture practice #6: Value your own mental health and that of your colleagues
How it’s measured: Lightfully provides two self-care days every year. Also, clinical operations leaders maximize use of precharge and recharge days.

Culture practice #7: Value your own physical health and that of your colleagues
How it’s measured: Lightfully provides discounts for gyms, movement apps, and meditation apps.

Culture practice #8: Set boundaries around technology
How it’s measured: Leaders model email blackout times—no emails after 8 pm or on weekends. Staff is encouraged to use delay-delivery or scheduling functions.

Culture practice #9: Protect project time
How it’s measured: All staff adhere to My Mondays—no recurring, company-wide calls or meetings are scheduled.

Culture practice #10: Celebrate one another regularly
How it’s measured: People Operations manages an annual Rewards & Recognition program, which includes everything from surprise treats and handwritten notes to annual awards programs where employees can win cash, prizes, and even a $5,000 vacation package.

Pillar #3: Grow

Why It’s Important: When team members are inspired and engaged, they can move at light speed to tackle goals as a collective and to hold one another accountable.

“We’ve invested so much in our Equip clinical training program,” says Rafferty. “It’s one thing to say we want to be different. It’s another to challenge ourselves to do it—and hold ourselves accountable.”

Here are the growth metrics that matter:

Culture practice #11: Talk to, not about, one another
How it’s measured: On monthly leadership calls, Rafferty models real courageous conversations that have happened within the company and celebrates those who’ve had them.

Culture practice #12: Meet employees where they need and want it most
How it’s measured: There are clear career paths and robust training plans, and all employees can choose from a variety of flexible scheduling. For example, along with the 32-hour workweek for clinicians, technicians can choose three 12-hour days.

“This often works better for them,” says Rafferty, “because many are in grad school.”  Think- the same or better weekly pay, for working 4 fewer hours and 2 fewer days!

Culture practice #13: Have high expectations for yourself and others
How it’s measured: All supervisors participate in an annual 360-degree review, which solicits feedback from peers and direct reports, not just the boss. All leaders utilize clear dashboards, and executives refine and prune reports quarterly.

Culture practice #14: Lean into your values
How it’s measured: Every employee goes through parts of Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead program. New employees share their values during the onboarding process, and then experience a series of exercises where they are shown how to live into their top two values.

Culture practice #15: Create a diverse and inclusive community
How it’s measured: All new employees complete a cultural competence module during onboarding and anti-racism training during Culture Bootcamps, from The Institute for Antiracism and Equity in Mental Health.

At Lightfully, we like to say come for the job but stay for the career—and the life transformation.

“When employees have been at Lightfully,” says Rafferty, “I want them to say I was incredibly challenged. I’ve never learned more. I’m a better clinician, employee, and leader. And I met my best friends.

“If we can do that,” she continues. “We will know that our culture truly changed lives.”


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