Job Title: Director, Global Health and Wellness
Current Company: GE Healthcare
Industry Type: Technology
Years in the Field: 13
Organization Size: 56,000
Jason received his bachelor's degree in Health Promotion from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 2001. After completing his undergraduate degree, he pursued a graduate degree in Health Science from the University of Memphis. Along with his bachelor's and master's degrees, he is also a certified WELCOA Faculty member. While he is proud of each of my degrees and certifications, his graduate degree is one that I’m he most proud of. However, each of them has helped improve his skills as a health promotion professional in a different way.
In the following paragraph's Jason shares in his own words how passionate he is in helping employees reach their wellness potential:
I think the most important thing a company can do to support health and wellness is to provide an environment that is conducive to healthy behaviors. Our risk factors probably aren’t that much different from those of other businesses: physical inactivity, stress, etc. Before looking at the typical behavior change programs, I decided to take a different approach and examine what we could do differently that would assist the employee with being more active and exposing them to a healthier workplace. For that reason, I focused on establishing tobacco free campuses across each of our worksites (more than 200 different worksites in more than 50 countries). I also extended the tobacco free policy to vehicles and other property owned or operated by GE Healthcare. Our current tobacco policy prohibits the use of tobacco (including smokeless) on any property owned by GE Healthcare. In addition to tobacco, I focused on establishing a nutrition and physical activity policy. All cafeterias and vending machines at GE Healthcare worksites worldwide provide at least 75% healthy options, include nutrition information, and are discounted 33% below unhealthy options. The policy also requires 100% healthy options for all meetings. Our fitness reimbursement policy provides employees with discounts to fitness centers. In addition, I have established walking trails or space for physical activity at each of our locations globally.
Each of these policies has helped remove barriers for employees as they struggled to identify healthy options, or engage in physical activity during the work day. As a result of these policies, we have seen an increase in our retention rates, lower claims costs each of the past two years, and an increase in our overall happiness survey score. To celebrate Health and Wellness week, each of our worksites globally coordinate a series of events dedicated to engaging employees and family members in healthy behaviors. Leadership is extremely supportive of this and you can start to see the culture shift within our company. CEO buy-in and support is what drives a wellness program. Our CEO has made a commitment to creating a culture of health. This is captured in our wellness vision statement, which is posted outside of every GE Healthcare building worldwide and included as part of every CEO and manager meeting. It’s not a surprise that it’s the first benchmark in WELCOA’s 7 benchmarks. Our wellness team consists of approximately 1000 wellness volunteers globally. We also have an executive wellness board with officers from within our business. Each region around the globe is represented on this board. Our HR and Medical teams collect a variety of health data that help drive many of our wellness initiatives. This information is presented regularly to both myself and our global medical director. Our operating plan serves as our road map and is continuously reviewed to ensure that we are taking the right approach. Finally, with each program and initiative, we conduct pre and post surveys to determine the impact and success of the program.
I’ve been involved with health and wellness my entire life. As a former college athlete, I understand the importance of maintaining good physical and mental health. Now, I make it a point to exercise during my lunch hour every day and being visible in all of the wellness programs that we offer. The WELCOA webinars and leadership trainings offered by my company have had a big impact on my development as a leader. I make a point to reach out to leaders in our business and ask them to participate in our programs. I also ask them to provide their thoughts on wellness and how they promote a healthy culture within the company. My advice to others is to be visible. Take every opportunity to get in front of leaders or other key stakeholders. The more visibility you can gain, the more you’ll be seen as a leader as well.
One of the more innovative things that I have created at my workplace is a global wellness platform that provides a personalized health road map based on a person’s biometric screening data and a global wellness assessment. To serve our global population, the platform is in multiple languages and allows employees to connect with each other from around the world based on their interests and programs or challenges that they are participating in. Technology is going to play an even larger role in the next five years. Programs will need to be mobile and be able to integrate with various platforms. As a result of these changes to our environment and a customized approach to a person’s wellness plan, we have seen an increase in productivity by 35%, an increase in retention by 27%, and our health related absence rate has decreased by 60%.
I think the biggest challenge that we will face in the next 5 years will be finding ways to address mental health or resilience. While physical health is obviously very important, it’s mental health that will have an even bigger impact on both the person and the employer. If you’re not mentally fit, it’s very difficult to be physically fit. For that reason, I have been working on implementing programs that focus on energy management. This program looks at the both the mental and physical aspect of personal health and first helps to identify a person’s barriers. I’ve been able to create a healthier environment at our workplace, but now I’m focused on making it a happier environment. This involves taking a holistic approach to our wellness program where we can address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our workforce.