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Investing in your wellbeing, everyday

Christina McClung, a managing vice president of human resources, likes to keep her monthly Invest in Yourself Day—a workday for associates to focus on personal and professional development—open so she can choose an activity based on how she’s feeling.

She'll rest on the couch if she's tired, watch an episode of "Golden Girls" if she needs cheering up, or enroll in an internal learning opportunity if she’s feeling driven. And she always lets her team know to take time for themselves as well.

“One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to what we need to focus,” she said. “Investing in ourselves can take various forms. It’s incredibly important that my teams do what makes sense for them, and they feel supported.”

Our leaders know that associates can only meet Capital One’s culture of excellence if they’re fresh, charged and relaxed. That’s why they lead by example and invest in themselves: to encourage all associates to do whatever they need to show up as their best selves.

Scott likes to take his dog on a long walk for Invest in Yourself Day.

Scott likes to take his dog on a long walk for Invest in Yourself Day.

Prioritizing your needs

Invest in Yourself Days began in May of 2020 to give associates some extended time free of meetings where they can dig into learning or prop up their feet for some much-deserved rest. Most teams observe the same Invest in Yourself Day, meaning associates return to work with minimal additional work to catch up on.

Scott Stanzel, a managing vice president for corporate communications, likes to invest in career growth and relaxation. He’ll shut down his laptop and open one of the many books on his reading list every Invest in Yourself Day. He’s read about wellbeing, succeeding at your own pace, the psychology of persuasion and etiquette in a digital age. Other days, he’ll take a long walk with his dog, Dasher.

Whatever Scott has planned, he communicates his activities ahead of time with his team so there’s no question they, too, can unplug. Making sure his team truly feels they can step away is a top priority for Scott. He recognizes that leaders influence a company's culture with their actions, and that there’s a difference between sending an email simply reminding his team to take time on Invest in Yourself Day, and sending them a note about how he himself plans to spend it.

“As leaders, we can’t only encourage our associates to pursue self-care and self-development, we also have to demonstrate it,” Scott said. “No one does their best work when they’re running on fumes. I want my team to understand that taking those breaks and watching out for yourself is important.”

Linda enjoys a piece of cake with her daughter.

Linda enjoys a piece of cake with her daughter.

Linda Banuelos, a managing vice president of human resources for Financial Services, uses her Invest in Yourself Days to catch up with colleagues in HOLA, our Business Resource Group for Hispanic associates and allies, participate in internal leadership training or prepare a new recipe for lunch—like a grilled peach and asparagus salad—with her two-year-old daughter.

“Invest in Yourself days represent one of the reasons I came to Capital One: for our culture of caring,” Linda said. “We enable our people to take care of ourselves. We lead with our heart.”

Bridget, an internal communications specialist on Scott’s team who works frequently with Christina, appreciates that her leaders share their Invest In Yourself Day plans. The transparency reminds Bridget to make time for herself, whether that’s moving leisurely with a cup of coffee in the morning or taking her Jack Russell Terrier-spaniel mix on a longer walk.

“It's really cool to have a day like this with no script,” Bridget said. “I can do what I need to do based on how I feel when I wake up. I have even seen my team members and my business partners push deadlines so they don't interfere with Invest in Yourself Day.”

Christina McClung, Capital One associate, sits in a restaurant booth with her two sons.

Christina McClung with her two sons.

Building long-term resilience

For Guru Sethupathy, a managing vice president for Card, practicing self-care seeps beyond Invest in Yourself Day and into his everyday work schedule. He carves out anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour in his day to chat with his family, ride his bike or go for a walk around his neighborhood.

And he encourages his own team to schedule their day as needed. Guru believes a flexible schedule provides long-term boosts for his team’s creativity, resilience and problem-solving skills.

“I firmly believe that I am way more productive when I can get away from my desk for an extended period,” Guru said. “We have to give the unconscious mind time and space to operate. When we are always on, attending meeting after meeting, we are disabling that powerful part of our brain. Maximal creative problem solving requires a combination of both intense focus as well as distraction.”

For Bridget, the ownership she maintains over her schedule and how she works results in better productivity and improved wellbeing.

“Knowing that I can be head's down doing what I need to do makes me feel respected, trusted and valued,” she said.

Christina believes leaders reassuring and demonstrating to their associates to have agency over their work leads to a better environment and performance.

“It’s so valuable to have dedicated time, free of group meetings and allocated to what you need that day, to keep balanced,” she said. “Encouraging your teams to prioritize their wellbeing empowers them. An empowered team collaborates effectively, reaches their goals and manages burnout along the way.”

Copyright © 2024 Opinions are those of the individual author. Statements are deemed accurate at the time of posting. Unless otherwise noted, Capital One is not affiliated with, or endorsed by, any company mentioned. All trademarks and intellectual property used or displayed are the property of their respective owners.

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