Wellness programs that support the whole employee

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This month's Member Spotlight is an excerpt from the State of Corporate Citizenship 2020 reportWant to learn more about this topic? Join us for the Aug 12 Webinar: Committing to community mental health wellness.

Business executives participating in this survey rated employee health and wellness high in multiple domains.

Forty-eight percent of respondents indicated that health and wellness was the highest corporate citizenship dimension currently contributing to achieving their company’s business goals. (See Figure Below.) Moreover, those participating in the study ranked employee health and wellness as the highest corporate citizenship priority for their company when looking at the past three years, its present operation, and the next three years.

It should come as little surprise, then, that many companies are working strategically to enhance their health and wellness programs—both as a recruitment and retention tool, and because research finds that employee participation in such programs can improve productivity and ultimately a company’s bottom line.i

In the business of health care, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) recognizes that its employees are also customers—as such, BCBSMA team members are embraced as doubly valuable assets. In addition to being the lifeblood of the company, employees often help pilot plan offerings, providing important feedback before such offerings get rolled out to BCBSMA’s customer base.

“Being a health care company, obviously healthy living is very important to us,” said Jeff Bellows, vice president corporate citizenship and public affairs. “We have the expertise here that gives our employees and our members confidence that we will take care of them when they are sick, but we also want people to think of us when they are healthy as well.”

BCBSMA offers its employees a wide array of health and wellness benefits. In addition to charity walks, runs, and rides, the company reimburses gym memberships; offers full locker-rooms, a wellness center, and a wellness coach on-site at the headquarter campus; and provides all employees with sit-to-stand desks. The company is careful to integrate emotional well-being into its more traditional physical Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts: Bring your true colors to blue activities. For example, employees at the Quincy and Hingham campuses benefit from the on-site community gardens BCBSMA established in partnership with The Trustees of Reservations, a nonprofit conservation and preservation organization in Massachusetts.

“We are pleased to be able to offer access to green spaces to our associates, especially as we know that healthy environments foster improved physical and mental health outcomes,” said Bellows.

This commitment to supporting the whole employee is demonstrated not only within BCBSMA’s programs, but also in the processes it has established to create holistic and effective initiatives. The BCBSMA Wellbeing Committee—a cross-functional group led by the company’s chief human resources officer—meets monthly to discuss how to ever improve the company’s working environment. Thanks to the variety of committee perspectives, the team has iterated through meaningful changes such as using data provided by the facilities department to identify those employees who would most benefit from flexible, remote schedules, and providing all employees with free membership to Boston’s Bluebikes—a metro-wide network of public transportation bikes that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts sponsors.

This kind of proactive thinking—considering employees’ commutes as extensions of their workdays—goes hand-in-hand with the company’s willingness and ability to provide members of its workforce with healthful benefits that improve their well-being both at and beyond the office.

This month's Member Spotlight is an excerpt from the State of Corporate Citizenship 2020 report. Want to learn more about this topic? Join us for the Aug 12 Webinar: Committing to community mental health wellness.

i Gubler, T., Larkin, I., & Pierce, L. (2017). Doing well by making well: The impact of corporate wellness programs on employee productivity. Management Science.