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Employee Well-Being

Stressing Health and Wellness Is Essential to Engaging the Workforce

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Gretchen Coffman

Chief Human Resources Officer, National Safety Council

“…the most important benefit to actively engaging with employees is that they will meet company goals with true spirit and passion.”

Once a week, National Safety Council employee Dustin Pellegrini sheds his work attire for workout wear and attends a fitness class down the hallway from his cubicle.

“My goal is to exercise regularly, but it’s not always easy to motivate yourself or find time,” he says. “It’s hard to say ‘no,’ though, when your coworkers are having fun and getting healthy right in the office.”

Fitness classes are just one of many employee engagement activities at the National Safety Council (NSC), where we’ve developed a “One NSC” mantra to ensure we work collectively to meet the organization’s mission of eliminating preventable deaths.

Many paths to wellness

In addition to fitness classes, we offer numerous other health and wellness activities, conduct annual engagement surveys and promote employee recognition through a recently implemented online program called YouEarnedIt.

Most recently, the organization participated in workshops with culture-shaping firm Senn Delaney to ensure we have a common language as we work together toward common goals. Training has been offered to all employees and includes how to systematically shape culture to better support business results and make our company a great place to work.

By focusing on these various forms of employee engagement, we are fostering a work environment where staff members have shared values, trust each other more and feel empowered to have open communication with leadership.

Assessing the results

To help us measure the outcomes of our efforts, NSC employees participate in engagement surveys. In the current fiscal year, we will participate in two surveys: Chicago Tribune’s Best Places to Work Survey and the Best Companies Group Best Nonprofits to Work for Survey. These surveys provide employee feedback, which helps us focus our efforts on the things that matter most to our employees.

Another way we further employee engagement is through our Wellness Committee, which plans and executes the many health and wellness activities we offer. While many of the activities focus on physical activity and nutrition — weight-loss contests, food journaling and walking challenges — we also offer opportunities that encourage financial and emotional well-being.

We believe these types of activities produce positive outcomes for employees in both their personal and professional lives, as studies have shown that regular exercise can lead to improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, enhanced creativity and lower stress.

Tracking and rewarding progress

Finally, as a way to recognize employees for participating in our health and wellness programs and other engagement activities, we implemented YouEarnedIt, which provides an easy, accessible way for employees to track their health and wellness activities, share appreciation, and recognize one another’s successes, birthdays and work anniversaries. Employees are awarded points for participating in certain activities or completing certain tasks, which can be redeemed for gift cards and other rewards.

If an organization is highly engaged with its employees, it will experience higher levels of productivity, increased customer loyalty, better sales, reduced absenteeism and lower turnover, according to a2016 Gallup study. But perhaps the most important benefit to actively engaging with employees is that they will meet company goals with true spirit and passion.

Gretchen Coffman, Chief Human Resources Officer, National Safety Council, [email protected]

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