Award Winning Employer Reduces Burnout With Wellness Programs

Dec. 15, 2022

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BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina identifies companies in the state that make a difference for their employees’ health. Every year, our LiveLifeBlue awards program recognizes large employers in the Lowcountry, Upstate and Midlands.

This year’s winner in the Midlands region, South Carolina Federal Credit Union, offers a broad wellness program that touches on all aspects of well-being. Zoë Watkins, human resources (HR) partner, and Kristen Steen, human resources benefits specialist, share what has made their program successful. 

What has been the focus of your wellness program recently? 

We try to focus on total well-being and meeting our employees where they are. If we have a wellness challenge, we make sure everyone can play. If someone isn’t focused on losing weight, he or she can participate through mental health or nutrition challenges. If someone isn’t able bodied, he or she can participate in other aspects of the challenge, like education or water intake. That's something that's kind of unique about our wellness program. We really try to focus on win-win opportunities.

What are some successes you’ve seen with your wellness program? 

The biggest one we have seen is partnering with our employees by soliciting their feedback and elevating their voices. It used to be that the HR team would brainstorm to come up with wellness challenges. But over time, you run out of ideas. Getting input from our internal wellness champion focus group and our employees adds to the program. Because we are a financial institution and our staff is spread across the state, having a focus group with representatives from other locations increases involvement outside of the company’s headquarters. 

How did your wellness program change during the pandemic? 

During the pandemic, we engaged with employees in new ways. For example, we were able to have more employees participate in the Alzheimer’s Association®’s 252-mile bike ride challenge in July because it was virtual. People who were passionate about the cause joined from their homes and other places and found their own consistent forms of exercise. 

Secondly, the pandemic forced us to think about accessibility of resources because we are spread out. We can’t all stop working to do a lunch-and-learn. Now our financial centers have morning huddles with microlearning sessions. We can do these 15-minute learning sessions with a registered dietitian or have an employee who is passionate about Zumba host short sessions. We’ve also hosted guided stretch meditations and morning affirmations. 

How are you working with BlueCross? 

For the last few years, we have been trying to make the most of our relationship with BlueCross. We are continuing to learn the resources that are available to us. Our big focus is on educating our employees about what benefits are available to them. Our BlueCross representative helps me almost daily with understanding what our employees can take advantage of, whether it’s for mental wellness or physical wellness. 

How do you incorporate philanthropy with your wellness programs? 

For us, this is our win-win. We partner with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to make sure everyone experiences an environment of inclusion and acceptance in the workplace. For example, our Miles That Matter Challenge encouraged employees to get miles in any way they could to compete for a donation to a charity of their choice. Community giving is a huge part of our culture, and it makes sense to incorporate wellness into those efforts. 

What is the future focus of your wellness programs? 

For us, our wellness program is about looking at the whole picture. The workforce has changed, and we want to continue to recruit and retain top talent while reducing burnout. Focusing on the total well-being of our employees, promoting mental health wellness, and reducing health care claims from a preventative aspect continue to be our focus and will help our employees to bring their true, authentic selves to our organization.

The Alzheimer’s Association® is an independent organization that provides health information you may find helpful.

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