State Leadership Conference

Despite daily reports of corporate layoffs, shrinking raises and dwindling employee benefits, many companies continue to make their employees a top concern by supporting their health and well-being in ways that also drive organizational performance. APA's Practice Directorate recognized 14 such companies during its annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards and Best Practices Honors ceremony at its annual State Leadership Conference, March 1–4.

These companies' investments are paying off. Winner Teledyne Brown Engineering, for one, has reduced absenteeism by 34 percent through comprehensive efforts that include employee health and safety, work-life balance, opportunities for growth and development, and employee recognition.

In fact, average employee turnover for the top five award winners was 11 percent, compared with the national average of 39 percent, as estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, only 25 percent of employees at these companies reported chronic work stress, compared with 39 percent nationwide, and 85 percent of employees reported being satisfied with their jobs, compared with only 61 percent nationally. And only 5 percent said they intend to seek employment elsewhere within the next year, compared with 32 percent nationally.

"The link between employee health and an organization's bottom line is clear and strong," says David Ballard, PsyD, MBA, APA's assistant executive director for corporate relations and business strategy. "In good economic times and bad, these organizations are poised to respond to challenges and recognize and benefit from emerging opportunities."

The 2009 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winners are:

Replacements Ltd., a dinnerware supplier in Greensboro, N.C. The company has an onsite occupational health nurse who sees sick employees, offers health screenings and conducts ergonomic assessments. The company also offers onsite English-as-a-second-language courses, executive coaching for senior staff and leave for parents who need to attend school luncheons and plays during the workday. Replacements, Ltd. even allows pets at work.

• Sandia Preparatory School, a private school for grades six through 12 in Albuquerque, N.M. The school has a health and wellness coordinator who provides confidential counseling referrals for employees. It offers employees discounts on private gyms, use of an on-campus workout room and tuition reimbursement. Teachers are also given multiple free periods throughout the day, as well as 50-minute breaks for lunch or exercise. The school also won a Best Practice Honor for its culture of inclusion and collaboration.

• Teledyne Brown Engineering, an aerospace engineering and defense contracting firm in Huntsville, Ala. Teledyne provides an onsite fitness center, health screenings, nursing services and financial incentives to employees who achieve health goals. The company also offers a corporate mentoring program, a tuition-assistance program, onsite child care, eldercare classes and an onsite cafeteria and barber shop.

• WorldatWork, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based association for human resources professionals. WorldatWork offers onsite yoga and aerobics classes, a mobile lab that offers free yearly mammograms to women over 39, and workshops on money management and debt reduction. The company also modifies its hours during the summer to so employees can leave early on Fridays.

• WRSystems Ltd., Engineering and Services Division, an information technology and engineering firm in Norfolk, Va. The company allows employees to bring children to work when child-care arrangements fall through, offers tuition reimbursement, and encourages telecommuting and flexible schedules. Employees earn a percentage of any new business they generate and cash rewards for recruiting new hires.

The 2009 Best Practices Honorees are:

• Broadway House for Continuing Care, an HIV/AIDS nursing and rehabilitation facility in Newark, N.J., which hosts a wellness day each month to give employees access to chiropractic, massage and nutritional/weight management services, as well as smoking cessation help. Employees also have free access to mental health, substance abuse and spiritual counseling services.

• Holtz Rubenstein Reminick, a New York-based accounting firm, which offers a mentoring program to help staff manage stress, grow professionally and maintain work-life balance.

• The Loft Literary Center, a literary arts center in Minneapolis, which offers flexible scheduling and telecommuting for its employees, who can design three-, four- or five-day workweeks in or out of the office.

• Manitoba Blue Cross, a Winnipeg, Manitoba-based health-care benefits provider, which incorporated employee feedback on health, safety, accessibility and ergonomic issues in the building of its headquarters.

• The Nevada Cancer Institute in Las Vegas, which offers a 10-week nutrition and exercise program to help employees reduce their risk for cancer and chronic diseases.

• Orion Associates, a small management services company with several branches in Minnesota that organized employees to gut and rebuild New Orleans homes and raise money for building materials after Hurricane Katrina. Bitten by the volunteerism bug, Orion then founded "Headwaters," a nonprofit volunteer organization where employees can take paid leave to provide aid to any community in need.

The Toronto Police Service, which offers a unique mentoring program that helps uniformed officers navigate the often-stressful promotional interview process.

• Watermark Credit Union in Seattle, which added a gain-sharing plan that has lowered employee turnover and increased employee satisfaction.

• Women in Construction Company in Duluth, Minn., which offers mentoring and apprenticeship programs and tuition for professional development opportunities.