The City of Charlotte has been named the No. 1 Healthiest Place to Work in the companies with 5,000-plus employees category by the Charlotte Business Journal. The announcement marks the third consecutive year the city has made the list, but the first time claiming the top position in its size category.
"The recognition is fantastic, yet the fact that our Wellness Works strategic initiatives continue to pay dividends to the lives of our employees and their families is the ultimate reward," said Sheila Simpson, Human Resources Department director. "That is what ’helping employees thrive’ means in action."
What’s Great About Wellness Works
The Wellness Works program drives the city’s success helping employees be healthy throughout the year. Nan Mann, the city’s benefits wellness plan administrator, runs the Wellness Works program and is constantly evolving the program to meet the needs of employees.
"I think too often, so many people think of wellness as eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise, get eight hours of sleep, etc., but it’s so much more than that," Mann said. "Our lives are often not linear and come with lots of twists and turns along the way. The state of our well-being can directly impact to how we respond to those twists and turns."
A key focus is overall wellness for employees and their families.
"We don’t just focus on the employees, but their family. Work life and home life are integrated. If employees are having a difficult time at home, it can negatively impact their work and vice versa," Mann said. "We strive to provide the tools and resources to help employees be their best not only in the workplace, but also at home."
Those resources, available to all city employees, include:
Marathon Health clinics.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center wellness center.
Services through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), such as counseling, legal and financial resources and e-learning.
Life coaching is also available to help employees become their best selves and create plans toward achieving life goals.
In addition, behavioral health and physical therapy were recently added to benefits packages to give employees and their families access to more care. The clinics are one-stop shops where employees have access to primary and acute care, medications, health and life coaching, behavioral health, physical therapy and chronic disease management for conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
Clinical care navigators are also available to assist employees who are in desperate situations and connect them to community resources like housing, food and child care.
Wellness During a Pandemic
Across the country, many households lost income, and some people dealt with isolation or tragic loss. To meet these wellness needs, the city began to offer new resources to aid employees during an unprecedented time.
Wellness Works program coordinators created a financial fitness challenge focused on building emergency savings and smart ways to use tax returns or stimulus checks. The coordinators also created a new financial resource guide and provided resources for child care and food assistance. Also, the city’s MetLife Legal plan extended free attorney document review and consultation for all employees through July 31, 2020.
Recognizing the increase in mental health needs, the city expanded mental health services. This included:
Increasing the EAP benefit from six sessions per matter, per year to 10 per issue for 2020.
Executing grief support groups and programs focused on loneliness.
Creating guides for navigating mental health for employees and supervisors.
As COVID-19 restrictions and precautions begin to ease, Mann hopes to resume in-person events in 2022.
"I would like to create events where employees can come together and engage and put the fun back in wellness again. Back when we did the Wellness Works Fitness Challenge, it was great to see employees from all the various departments interacting with one another and taking some time to take a deep breath, have fun and was a great form of stress management. Many employees have missed the social interaction."
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