by Amanda Rudd, CWP, Senior Well-being & Engagement Strategist

This year at Motion Connected we spoke with many accomplished professionals about what it takes to create and maintain a Great Culture.  We spoke with HR Leaders, Wellness Professionals, Mental Health providers and Doctors to hear insider stories and get an inside look at great programs and strategies.

The workforce shift over the past three years has brought a new level of awareness to employers and employees alike, both who have had to pivot to address new challenges while identifying needs. Today, in the now normal, it is more clear than ever that employees are looking to be seen and valued, and that a positive organizational culture is crucial for success.

Here are 8 take-a-ways from the series:

1. Leadership visibility is essential.

What we learned from John DeSimone, HR Director at Henderson Brother’s, Inc., a brokerage firm located in Pittsburgh, PA, is that leadership presence is crucial for a healthy organization and positive culture.

Good leaders set the tone for the organization, cascade the organization’s values through strategic communications and business practices and invest in future leaders through development and mentoring programs.  In turn, employees value and understand the organization’s mission, goals and objectives, and likewise, leadership makes the efforts to understand and fully value each employee.

Henderson Brother’s is an organization with a strong, visible, leadership team. They excel at communications and mission, invest in leadership development, value employee feedback, and continually adjust to employee needs. All of these factors play a critical role in the organization’s continued success, positive culture, and high retention rate.


 2. Culture isn’t a set point – it constantly evolves.

In our April webinar, Kathy Ellis, Director of Health & Wellness at Granite Group Benefits, emphasized that there is no set point for a positive work culture.  As in life, there are ebbs and flows that naturally occur, and organizational culture will be affected as well.

Preaching a ‘culture of health’ or ‘culture of wellness’ can set organizations up for unattainable expectations. Giving something a label, that can contrast with the day-to-day reality for an employee, can turn folks off. It sets us up for contradiction, which can be misleading and an unauthentic voice.

Kathy affirmed that it is best to let a ‘culture of wellness’ organically develop and exist on its own. The way this happens is based on the resources and commitment internal teams have in regard to key influencers that will keep it a priority. It happens by employers consistently demonstrating through action that they are committed to employee wellbeing.

At working towards a positive culture, it is important to have honest, outright conversations and to validate what employees are experiencing.  This is essential to maintaining connection and positive energy.


 3. Mental Health initiatives aren’t just an EAP

In May, we spoke with Dana Bear from Mental Health America, who reviewed MHA’s 2022 Mind the Workplace Report.  We learned ways to support employee mental health and wellbeing, and that benefits, policies and resources need to move beyond simply offering an Employee Assistance Program.  In addition, Dana provided evidence that when organization’s provide mental health support for their people, employees take advantage of the resources.

Dana emphasized that it is important to think holistically when building a mental health strategy.  Specifically, consider:

  1. How does mental health support fit into both your DEI&B and total well-being strategies?
  2. Who has access? Are there segments of your employee ecosystem left without appropriate support?
  3. Are benefits, resources & support easy to find and navigate?
  4. How effective is the support you provide employees? Are there ways to track and measure over time?
  5. Are employees familiar with the types of support that exist, and which are right for them?

Dana also reviewed what a healthy, positive workplace should offer in terms of mental health benefits & resources:

  • Customized Mental Health Education
  • Question Persuade Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training
  • Mindfulness education and programming
  • Mental Health focused Business Resource Group (BRG) or Employee Resource Group (ERG)
  • Peer Support Facilitator Training
  • Customized Employee Screening Links
  • Mental Health Newsletters
  • Policy & Procedure Review


4. Create visibility.

Stephanie Wheeler, a 20-year veteran in the wellness field, who currently manages Mercy Medical Center’s best-in-class, award winning wellness program, emphasized the importance of creating visibility within your program.  She offers a ‘What’s up with Wellness’ session Wednesday’s in the break area of her worksite, where she details the latest news & happenings in the wellness program, upcoming opportunities, and highlights company benefits & resources.  By hosting these sessions consistently, she brings wellness to the employees – breaking down barriers, boosting social connections and increasing engagement… all drivers for a healthy culture.


 5. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s important to remember that creating a positive organizational culture takes time.  Dana Salopek, Wellness Coordinator for seven-time Top Workplace winner Mascaro Construction Company, spoke about the importance of evolving to meet employee needs.

In the January webinar, we discussed the importance of leveraging programs to cultivate a healthy culture – ones that connect a dispersed workforce, possess the ability to reach all employees, and communicate the organization’s mission and values, which will lead to higher engagement, where employees feel their value.


 6. Know your demographic.

Amber Van Allen, Wellness Administrator for the City of Green Bay, has an annual goal for herself: to know the name of each of the approximately 1,000 City of Green Bay employees.  By bringing this personal touch to the program, she has learned a lot about the demographic of the employees, which has extended into the wellness program.

The City of Green Bay’s wellness program is named ‘Health 1265’ which is the address of Lambeau Field (1265 Lombardi Avenue), home of the Green Bay Packers.  City employees can earn up to 1265 points by participating in wellness and can use their points to reduce their health insurance premiums and win Packers memorabilia, as well as other prizes.  In three years, the program reduced employee hospitalizations by more than 30%, saved $1M in healthcare costs, and averaged 199 minutes per employee of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly. An investment in employee health, personalized approach, and unique incentives works to gain a competitive advantage to retain employees and attract talent.


 7. Understand employee needs.

Dr. Lynn Wagner, a former emergency medicine physician, and current Integrative Physician, explained the importance of meeting all employees where they are, without judgement, and understanding their needs.  In her work, she realized that so much of what we are doing in western medicine is a band-aid approach, covering up symptoms and not getting to the root cause of health problems. She transitioned to the practice of integrative medicine, a specialty that combines the philosophies of both eastern and western medicine along with a healthy lifestyle, to give patients their best path to optimum health. She believes that by combining healthy lifestyle changes with an integrative approach, we can achieve our optimum health.

When an organization takes a similar approach, and looking at each employee with a clear lens, specifically: how they work, where they work, the actual job/duties they perform, who they are as an individual, their family, their goals, aspirations, and passions, it can learn a lot about their organizational culture and what employees need most.  Understand and value the whole person, and meeting their needs, limits turnover and provides a positive employee experience.


 8. Well-being is no longer optional.

Shira Wilensky, National Practice Leader of Health & Wellbeing, at OneDigital, wrapped up our Great Culture series with this quote: “Attending to employees’ wellbeing is no longer optional. It is time to revise your approach as an organization, shift your priorities, and get intentional about meeting the needs of your employees. “

Wellbeing is a global initiative that focuses on the individual, whole-person, but also moves beyond a ‘wellness program’ into creating a positive employee experience through action, policy, leadership commitment and addressing systemic organizational imbalances.

A genuine, effective, consistent, wellbeing initiatives are key – and wellness can be the ribbon that ties an empathetic, inclusive, connected culture, together.