When employees of the International Foundation tell friends about their office game nights, daily mindful minute sessions, yoga offerings, and let’s take the afternoon off because the temperature reached 70 degrees in February (in Wisconsin), a common response is: “Can I get a job there?” While the list of fun activities may be alluring, the benefits of the Foundation’s workplace wellness initiatives extend far beyond employee recruitment.
Many of these wellness initiatives are direct results of an all-staff survey and focus groups that identified workplace environment and employee stress had room for improvement. Staff felt overworked and thought communication with leadership could be better and supervision more consistent. But just two years later, a follow-up survey showed morale had improved, and a significantly higher percentage of staff said they would recommend the Foundation as a great place to work. Communication, leadership/management, collaboration, HR support, work/life balance and staff recognition also had improved.
How Did We Get There?
Our wellness initiatives were intentional and strategic. Leadership made a healthy workplace culture a priority. The small but dedicated Work ‘n’ Well Committee was expanded and rebranded the Healthy Workplace Council with a beefed-up budget. The newly energized council was charged with providing programs and initiatives that encourage all employees to get involved with the organization and their communities in new ways. As they plan activities, the council focuses on all five aspects of well-being that are measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index—physical, social, community, financial and purpose. Here’s how Gallup describes these elements and what the Foundation is doing:
Learn More: Workforce Wellness E-Learning Course
Physical: “Having Good Health and Enough Energy to Get Things Done Daily”
- Breaks are encouraged, including walks through the beautiful, wooded campus. More than half the staff participates in the formal walking program. Yoga and fit-for-life classes are regularly offered on site.
- Healthy foods are offered on site at a nominal cost. Council members shop each week for fruit, vegetables, yogurt, granola, etc. Blenders were purchased for making smoothies. Tea is offered for free and soda machine prices were raised to help subsidize healthier options.
- On-site health risk assessment/biometric screening—sometimes with participation incentives
- Healthy environment—a nature trail, memorial garden and no-smoking policy
- On-site flu shots, mental health coverage and managed care on a voluntary basis
- On-site weight-management classes – subsidized Weight Watchers program
Social: “Having Supportive Relationships”
- The Honey Badgers coed softball team recently finished its seventh year. Every Wednesday (game days) throughout the summer, all staff members are invited to dress casually in team gear at work and support the team at games.A front-lawn bocce ball league between two-person teams (with names like Unfinished Business, The “IT” chicks and The Bocinators). The teams, often including members of the Foundation’s leadership, play on the broad front lawn of the Brookfield, Wisconsin headquarters over the lunch hour.
- A lunchroom cribbage league in the winter (A number of staffers have learned the game so they can join the fun.)
- Staff outings like an annual golf tournament, a Milwaukee Zoo picnic, Brewers game, tours, state park hikes, painting, theater, bowling, ping-pong, gardening, jewelry-making and holiday parties (often including retirees and families)
- Bowling league—Staff, including leadership, look forward to frequent bowling nights during the winter months. No bowling skills are required! Spectators are welcome too!
- Fun work dress-up days—winter/summer office Olympics, ugly sweater day, Halloween
- Common on-site events/celebrations—wedding/baby showers, healthy food cook-offs, bake sales, department parties/potlucks.
Community: “Liking Where We Live, Feeling Safe and Having Pride in the Community”
- A Family Fund team, for decades, has sponsored chili cook-offs, staff Christmas cookie sales and popcorn sales to raise money for holiday gifts and school supplies for low-income families
- Volunteer projects: painting rooms at shelters for homeless women and children, collecting school supplies, and helping at the Humane Society
- Food drive competitions
- On-site blood donations five times a year.
Related Report: Workplace Wellness Trends: 2017 Survey Results
Financial: “Managing Finances to Reduce Stress and Increase Security”
- Conducts periodic market scans of area and industry employer wages and cebs grads. Changes are occasionally made to ensure we remain at or above market in most job classifications.
- Offers generous defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans. A remarkable 97% of employees participate in the 401(k) plan.
- Provides on-site financial education (both from objective financial experts and from 401(k) and 403(b) providers)
- Staff also are encouraged to earn the CEBS® designation, with materials and tests provided for free and a bonus for doing so—providing an invaluable knowledge base for retirement planning.
Purpose: “Liking What We Do and Being Motivated to Achieve Our Goals”
- Performance reviews now directly tie eight evaluation measures to the mission of the organization, with two of those factors—initiative and resourcefulness—related to purpose/autonomy. Three other performance measures—communication, team-oriented and positive/helpful—also support improving the workplace culture.
- Job openings are e-mailed to all staff, and interested qualified candidates are encouraged to apply. The Foundation often promotes from within, and lateral transfers are common and encouraged when employees see an internal opportunity that better fits their interests.
- Lunch-n-learns on stress sleep correlation, financial wellness, mindfulness and depression, etc.
- Teams, committees and councils provide collaboration and leadership opportunities outside the traditional job hierarchy
- Personal development and continuing education opportunities, as well as tuition reimbursement
- New recognition policies: performance pay, service recognition and retirement celebrations.
Want to learn more about wellness program best practices? Visit the International Foundation Workplace Wellness page.
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