ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Mitch Martens

Cedars-Sinai’s Employee Wellness Program… Innovative, Malleable and Collaborative.

Mitch Martens
Employee Wellness Administrator
Cedars-Sinai Health System, Los Angeles, CA.
Industry type-Hospital
Organization size-13,000
Years in the field-26

Cedars-Sinai Workout of the Week

1. Professional Development:

 Drake University-B.S., Psychology

Pepperdine University-M.S., Clinical Psychology

WELCOA Well Workplace University Certification

Selected as a Work@Health worksite, a CDC sponsored program

American Heart Association’s Gold Certified Fit Friendly Certification

Cedars-Sinai President’s Award

Critical Incident Stress Management certification

The field of human enhancement has always been a calling that started with my grandparents doing missionary work in Eastern Europe.  My father went into academia and my mother pursued nursing.  Be it a calling, passion, family expectation or universal destiny, I had my vision set on finding a degree that would help me connect with humans who wanted a better life.  Without question, developing the fundamentals of human behavior and mastering the art of connecting has paved a journey from traditional therapist, to trainer/educator, to healthcare administrator, and ultimately a facilitator/shepherd for personal wellness.

 2. Demonstrated Success

During the past two years of the official Cedars-Sinai Employee Wellness Program, the wellness committee and I have successfully implemented many successful programs.  Highlighted below are a few examples:

  • Cedars-Sinai Wellness Dimensions (see attached)
  • Self Massage Tune-up (see attached)
  • Healthy@Work: SolFit (see attached)
  • Dance Fitness (see attached)
  • CS Total Health Incentive Program (see attached)
  • Stairwell campaign, inspirational quotes and murals (see attached)
  • Take Five and Thrive: activity bands (see attached)
  • Healthier options in the cafeterias (see attached)
  • Employee Wellness Day (see attached)

 The meaning of success varies within Cedars-Sinai and one might expect healthcare workers to be the “example" of healthy living.   The uniqueness of this population and their resistance to make lasting lifestyle changes, laid the foundation for what was to become our most impactful wellness initiative.

It’s All About Caring (IAAC): a 2-day personalized wellness experience for the employee that empowers them to identify their own possibilities:  unfulfilled dreams/aspirations, learning, career, mind, body, spirit, adventure, fun, travel, relationships or other.  Followed by inspiring, connecting and discovering their past, present and future story with the purpose of realizing the necessary steps for success.  IAAC:  A Day of possibilities (see attached)

Over 9,500 employees have attended this program including senior executives.  Under my leadership, a wellness team of 10 facilitators helped employees chose their own wellness path and create successful interventions to achieve their goals. Each program consisted of 30employees from different parts of the organization coming together to create a supportive space that would drive results, “ah-ha” moments, and break-throughs never imagined.

Specific Outcomes:

  • Over 98% of the employees anonymously reported IAAC being relevant and valuable in both their professional and personal lives. (see attached graph)
  • Patients were 8x more likely to rave about their hospital experience when treated by someone who attended IAAC.
  • Consistently rated above 4.5 on a 5 point Likert scale.  The questionnaire specifically measured employees’ attitudes and opinions about:
  1. Because of this IAAC experience I am more aware of the importance of balancing my work life and personal life. [personal impact & presenteeism]
  2. Because of this IAAC experience I see how creating possibilities and setting goals can help me make positive changes in my life. [personal impact]
  3. Because of this IAAC experience I believe I can make a positive difference in patients’ experiences at Cedars-Sinai [customer impact]
  4. Because of this IAAC experience I feel more valued as a Cedars-Sinai employee and recognized by leadership. [commitment and engagement impact]

Engagement/Commitment to Cedars-Sinai (see attached)

 3. Leadership

I’m guessing all the candidates in this application share a similar trait of exercising and being labeled as “the wellness guy (or girl).”  Anytime we attend a meeting, walk by the water-cooler, or set foot in the cafeteria everyone suddenly gets a wellness-conscience by hiding their donuts, swallowing their cigarettes, or rolling their eyes when we suggest taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Maybe what sets me apart from other candidates is how Cedars-Sinai recruited me from another hospital and over the last 14 years designed unique job descriptions to fit my strengths and skills.  Two years ago they commissioned me to build the first-ever CS Employee Wellness Program.  Cedars-Sinai has an international reputation for leading the quest in quality healthcare for patients.  They are now asking me to build that same reputation for quality health practices within our own employee population.  When offering advice I simply share my 5 core self-philosophies:

  1. I can
  2. I will be generous
  3. I will make a difference in the lives of those around me
  4. Not much will make me angry
  5. I will look for the good in every situation

I can confidently say those beliefs have propelled both my career and personal life into new realms of excitement and learning.  I am constantly reminded the more I step out of my comfort zone the more I grow and excel in life.

4. Innovation

It’s All About Caring (IAAC) is both ground-breaking and unique. My favorite part is how it’s not a wellness program that has been crafted around a needs survey or an at-risk population.  The employee self-prescribes what’s most important to them in their life.  Human beings instinctually (and sometimes intellectually) know what they need for survival and happiness.  They don’t need a HRA to tell them they are unhealthy. They don’t need better signage in the cafeteria pointing them to fruits instead of cookies.  They don’t need another campaign explaining the dangers of tobacco.   And they certainly don’t need to be reminded that their jobs and lives are stressful.  What they need is an invitation to take an overview of their own life and a supportive environment where they can build the courage to go after their wants and dreams in life.  If you want to see health transformations, immediate behavior changes and a culture that cultivates life-wellness, come experience the 2-day IAAC program and you too will be on a journey never before experienced.

5. Compelling Vision

I keep these three words in mind:  Innovative, Malleable and Collaborative.

Generally, when I’m consulting or attending wellness conferences, I hear in people’s conversations that one or more of those three elements are missing within their personal life or structured program.  Often I ask which of those three muscle groups could use a little more attention and strengthening?

Over the next 5yrs I will continue to build on my human-centered, design-based approach to help Cedars-Sinai innovate and grow.  I will look for new ways to serve and support people by discovering their needs, behaviors and desires.

Through designing new products, services, spaces and experiences, I will continue to breed new life into the Employee Wellness Program and our collective health promotion industry.

Population health management is not coming…it’s already here.  If we are not actively in the mix and laying the tracks ourselves, the wellness train will head in its own direction and leave us behind.   My ultimate goal is to be the “golden spike” that connects our health promotion industry with US healthcare reform (I can’t help my train metaphors, being born and raised in Omaha, NE and part of a family linage that worked on the rails).

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Cedars-Sinai Wellness Dimensions Self Massage Tune-up Healthy@Work: SolFit Dance Fitness CS Total Health Incentive Program Stairwell campaign, inspirational quotes and murals Take Five and Thrive: activity bands Healthier options in the cafeterias Employee Wellness Day IAAC:  A Day of possibilities Graph Engagement/Commitment to Cedars-Sinai
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Mitch M.
Mitch Martens is the Employee Wellness Administrator at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, CA. For the past 20+ years, Mitch has cultivated academic and professional experiences and applied them to the importance of turning theory into practical applications. With 14 years of proven success in behavioral health interventions and a keen understanding for best practices, he has been strategically building a top performing and innovative worksite wellness program. He is active and represents Cedars-Sinai with participation amongst select industry groups and peer organizations, including WELCOA, HERO, Hospital Association of Southern CA and National Association of Mobile Health Clincs. View Mitch M.'s Profile.
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Comments 18

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Congratulations, Mitch! This is very well deserved and I am so proud of you. I must say that it doesn't surprise me. I have seen you do this time and time again over the 10 years that we have worked together. Everything you have touched over the years, from It's All About Caring to Employee Wellness, Employee Recognition and Employee Fundraising has been hugely successful. You constantly find new ways to engage and excite our employees. Your passion and dedication to your work is inspirational and has touched the lives of countless individuals by opening doors and creating new opportunities for them to improve and enrich their lives.

Martha D. on 2/05/2015

I always tell Mitch, "when I grow up, I want to be just like him". I cannot think of a word that can express the "ray of sunshine and energy that Mitch gives to others. Mitch was born to do what he does, and he does it well. I truly believe that Mitch could "Sale Sand In The Desert". He's a force to be reckoned with. I am truly honored to know him as a colleague and friend; and so extremly proud of his accomplishment(s). Kudos To You Mitch, Keep Reaching For the Stars. Warmly, JudyB

Judy B. on 2/05/2015

Mitch, I am so happy for you. An honor so well deserved my friend. CONGRATS!!! Hugs :)

Rachel B. on 2/05/2015

I am so proud of Mitch and all he has accomplished in his career. I have been a part of his classes and observed how he interacts with people both at work and play. A new word should be invented to describe how wonderful he supports and inspires others. Mitch's Mom, Nancy

Nancy G. on 2/05/2015

With the same passion he directed It’s All About Caring, Mitch is fostering a culture of self-maintenance for Cedars Sinai employees. I look out for the email reminders of the next Wellness presentation. Even when I can’t participate, the announcements remind me to continue my fitness journey. The honor is most deserved Mitch! Keith F.

Keith F. on 2/05/2015

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