How Genentech Leads the Way in Employee Wellbeing

Peer Practices
Written by Leslie Lang

Cori Davis

Chief People Officer


On International Women’s Day in 2023, Genentech launched an employee menopause benefit, offering comprehensive coverage for that natural but long-stigmatized and largely overlooked phase of women’s lives. It’s accessed through a digital health platform that provides on-demand access to clinicians and various support services and is available to employees and their spouses or partners. 

While menopause healthcare benefits are not yet common, interest is on the rise. A year later, the State of California’s Select Committee on Reproductive Health invited Genentech to speak to help raise awareness about the value of employer-provided menopause benefits.

Caring for employees as well as patients

Genentech is committed to helping people lead healthy lives, said Cori Davis, the company’s Chief People Officer, “including the patients who take our medicines, as well as our employees and their families.” She said employees should feel supported in all facets of their lives, both at work and home, because the company is collectively stronger when its people are well.

Davis said she’s always been passionate about inclusivity. “In the past, people didn’t talk about cancer, infertility, or mental health as openly as we do today,” she said. “Similarly, there should be no shame in going through menopause, which is a perfectly normal part of life for half the world’s population. The more transparent we are in discussing topics like menopause, the less taboo these topics will become and the greater likelihood that all people will receive the support and care they deserve.”

In 2022, the organization’s Genentech Women Professionals group hosted a virtual session on menopause. It centered on the very real challenges that menopause symptoms like brain fog, lack of sleep, hot flashes, and others present for women in the workplace, usually during the peak of their careers. Fifty-four percent of the Genentech workforce are women, and their average age is 45. 

Davis said the company realized how little education, care, and support there is for women experiencing menopause. “We pride ourselves on constantly evaluating and evolving our competitive benefits offerings to meet our employees’ changing needs, and realized we had an opportunity—and responsibility—to make this support available,” she said. 

Launching an on-demand digital health platform about menopause 

Genentech’s menopause benefits are accessed through a free digital health platform available to all Genentech and U.S. Roche employees and their spouses or partners 24/7. The platform provides access to clinicians, referrals, classes, resources, and more, all tailored to the user’s own menopause journey.

Benefits include on-demand video appointments and messaging with providers, including OB-GYNs, pelvic floor physical therapists, mental health providers, and career coaches. A dedicated Care Advocate and personalized support help with early symptom identification, treatment guidance, and mental health support. Users can attend provider-led classes and drop-in support groups and read vetted articles on managing menopause symptoms, hormone replacement therapy, and more. Referrals to in-person providers are available. 

David said that because leadership supported the menopause benefit, it was pretty seamless to get it started, despite Genentech being the first to partner with their medical benefits provider to access menopause support through their vendor.

Genentech’s wellness program also includes a Mental Health Champions network of 400 employees representing all geographies, business areas, and demographic backgrounds. These volunteers support colleagues’ understanding of and access to the company’s mental health benefits.

Davis said she’s also proud of Genentech’s cancer care benefits. “As a member of the Roche Group, we’re a global leader in genomics, diagnostics, and treatments for cancer, and we believe it’s imperative to provide our employees and their covered family members with access to the most advanced care and resources available for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and support.”

Genentech’s medical plans cover 100% of preventive cancer screening costs, have no age restrictions on eligibility, and provide financial incentives for participating. If an employee is diagnosed with cancer, the benefits program covers biomarker testing, free second opinions, and expert guidance from leading oncologists at Cancer Centers of Excellence across the U.S., as well as fully paid time off and mental health support. Roche and Genentech medicines or diagnostics are free of charge, if needed.

ROI on menopause benefits and other wellness programs

In the first two months of Genentech’s menopause benefits, 450 employees, spouses, and partners used the new program. Almost a year out, that number is 650. “We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from women saying the benefit is ‘very needed’ and that they feel truly seen. Employees rate our vendor 4.9 out of 5 for their care and support services,” said Davis.

Davis said that while the ROI of employee wellness programs is hard to quantify, there are indicators of their strength and value, such as “higher employee net promoter scores, lower utilization of sick time, and fewer abrupt resignations.” 

Genentech also measures mental wellbeing on a “resilience dashboard” that shows progress toward self-care objectives, factors that affect resilience, and personalized training recommendations.

One of the ways we’ve always differentiated ourselves as an employer of choice is by providing our people with exceptional benefits.”

How to combat a lack of usage in wellbeing programs

How do you get people to use wellbeing programs? “Communicate, communicate, and then communicate again,” said Davis. She also said it’s okay to start small. “There are many tactics that support employee wellness—stretch breaks, breathing and mindfulness exercises, expressing gratitude, recognizing team and individual successes, holding walking one-on-one meetings—that cost nothing and can be easily woven into most working environments.”

Lastly, Davis stressed that leaders and managers should model healthy behaviors, such as letting employees see it’s okay to build wellness into the workday, refraining from checking email on vacation, and not emailing employees on weekends. “Block time on your calendar for exercise,” she said. “Talk about what’s important to you outside of work. We all have personal lives, and being willing to share or be vulnerable can go a long way in building connections in the workplace, which is also known to bolster wellness.”

Davis said that Genentech has always differentiated itself as an employer by providing exceptional benefits. “We work hard to stay at the forefront of offering competitive, progressive benefits and services because we believe they go a long way toward attracting and retaining our talented workforce,” she said.

“There are many factors you have to take into account from a retention standpoint,” she said, “but caring for our people and providing a challenging, mission-focused environment with ongoing growth and development opportunities have also helped us maintain lower attrition levels.”

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Special thanks to Cori Davis and Genentech.

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