Lead and Learn
Whitney Gorsegner, MS, MCHES, CF-L2, Wellness Program Manager at Garver
May 16, 2023
Founded in 1919, Garver is an employee-owned multi-disciplined engineering, planning, architectural, and environmental services firm with over 1,000 employees across the United States. Offering a wide range of services focused on aviation, construction, facilities design, federal, survey, transportation, water, and wastewater, Garver sits in the top 125 of the Engineering News-Record's prestigious Top 500 Design Firms list and is consistently recognized as a best firm to work for.
But Engineering + Wellness = ??
Employees spend most of their days at work, where wellness programs can majorly affect their lives. To have a successful wellness program, you must provide the standard program framework: earn points for participating in healthy habits to then earn a gift card, a t-shirt, discounted insurance premiums, or monetary prize at the end of the year; make sure your C-Suite is deeply committed to employee wellness; and collect data to continue evolving your program and creating meaningful behavior changes. This is all to eventually help lower your insurance claims and give your employees the tools they need to live the quality of life they deserve.
But like any good equation, you need the correct formula: Insert an in-house Wellness Team, and you might just change your organization's culture and improve some lives along the way.
At Garver, we have a lot of fun! As a 100+ year-old company, we have had plenty of time to develop our company’s culture, which ultimately keeps our employees excited to come to work each day. A significant part of that culture encourages our employees to maintain a healthy balance among the many priorities that make up their lives. We do that in a variety of ways, but one of the most impactful ways is through our Wellness Program, which is run in-house.
In the very beginning of Garver Wellness, circa 2010, employees were completing activities for the points and the money, but very little behavior change was being made, and our insurance claims costs plateaued. When Garver invested in a designated in-house Wellness Team, relationships formed with our employees and that is when our success rating went from 3-stars to the elusive 5-stars.
The Formula for a Successful In-House Program
Every one of your employees has a different wellness journey with different priorities and goals they are working toward.
Running your wellness program in-house provides employees the unique benefit and opportunity to interact with the Wellness team and receive a program that is tailored specifically for them.
When an employee reaches out to the Wellness team, they receive a reply from someone who knows their name, face, and wellness journey. Garver recognizes this as a crucial piece to creating true behavior change, while bringing the best and healthiest employee experience to our people.
There are so many other factors that go into determining the success of a program, including consistently looking at:
- Claim drivers
- Biometric screening data
- Employee feedback and satisfaction surveys
And, additional internal data, such as:
- Recruitment/retainment data
- Productivity data
- Company recognition to inform your wellness program
Mix all of these factors into your benefits formula and they will help you determine your ROI, the value of investment of your program. Ultimately, your in-house Wellness Team can help integrate wellness into employees’ work lives so that the two can coexist.
As part of Garver’s Strategic Plan, the Wellness team works to provide the best employee experience so our workfoce can live healthy and productive lives. Having a robust portfolio of employee-driven programs designed to comprehensively support the whole individual helps cater to where employees are at in their professional, physical, and personal development journey. This increases productivity, engagement, recruitment, retention, and your bottom line.
Advice for Your Wellness Team
Here are a few EASY action items you can begin implementing an in-house wellness program today:
1. Provide and encourage opportunities for Connectedness: At Garver, social engagement — or as we like to call it, Connectedness — is encouraged. Employees can gather, socialize, and relax together by eating lunch, taking a 10-minute walk around the parking lot, getting to know one another in the break room, or giving back to their local community.
2. Foster a healthy space for movement and productivity: From fitness facilities to lightweight fitness equipment (dumbbells, yoga mats) in a conference room to standing desks, encourage your employees to take the time to move their bodies. Provide a smoke-free environment, greenery throughout the workspace, free access to clean drinkable water and natural light, and encourage breaks.
3. Empower employees to take responsibility for their overall well-being: A simple survey will help you gather data regarding your employees’ wants and needs within a Wellness Program. From there, you can build the program based on activities that align with your company's overall strategic plan. If the program is built by your employees, they are more likely to participate.
4. Talk about Mental Health and resources employees have access to: By providing more easily accessible resources, Garver experienced a 60.7% increase in behavioral health visits from 2020 to 2021, which increased another 11.9% from 2021 to 2022. While some may see this increase as a negative, Garver sees this as a positive because more employees are now taking action to address their mental health needs, which has led to a sounder psychologically safe work environment.
5. Lead by example: While Leadership buy-in is crucial in the culture, strategic plan, and well-being of your company, you never know who you are inspiring. Be the Rube Goldberg healthy choice chain reaction we all need in the workplace.
About Whitney Gorsegner, MS, MCHES, CF-L2
As the Garver Wellness Program Manager, Whitney is responsible for providing wellness solutions to over 1,000 employees across 43 offices by supplying education and support within the entire realm of personal wellness, focusing on a total mind and body approach to living a healthy lifestyle.
Whitney holds a master’s degree from Mississippi State in Health Promotion and Education. She is a master certified health education specialist (MCHES), a CrossFit L2 trainer (CF-L2), a certified Red Cross CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor, certified in Mental Health First Aid with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and an ACE certified nutrition specialist.
Since 2017, Whitney has helped Garver maintain an award-winning wellness program culture as a Platinum Well Workplace by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), a Top 100 Healthiest Workplace in America by Healthiest Employers, participant in the Workplace Wellness Best Practices Study released by the Returns on Wellbeing Institute, participant in a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) case study, and has made regular appearances on Fox16 Good Day Arkansas and KARK4 to talk about corporate wellness within Central Arkansas communities.
Her personal mission statement is this: To center her days around laughter and kindness, to uplift those around her by helping them find their resiliency and improving their overall quality of life, to lead the charge in fighting against chronic diseases, and to help individuals find the power that lives within us all.