State Leadership Conference

Even the strongest organizations have had to make difficult choices over the last year. But some workplaces responded to such challenges in ways that were healthy for both employees and the bottom line. APA’s Practice Directorate recognized several of these organizations during the annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards and Best Practices Honors at its State Leadership Conference March 6–9 in Washington, D.C.

“These organizations will be positioned to move forward as the economy turns around, rather than playing catch-up because of short-sighted decisions made during the recession,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, assistant executive director for marketing and business development at APA.

In fact, these organizations are already seeing a payoff. APA’s five top award-winners reported an average turnover rate of just 9 percent last year, compared with a national average of 41 percent estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 30 percent of employees surveyed at the winning organizations reported chronic work stress, compared with 41 percent nationally. And only 12 percent said they planned to seek employment elsewhere within the next year versus 31 percent nationally.

“People feel out of control, and organizations and businesses are more insecure than ever,” said keynote speaker Alexis M. Herman, former U.S. secretary of labor.

As workers are forced to work longer hours and take on multiple roles, she said, job stress has increased. With many workers now unable to retire, tensions among different generations of workers are also growing. Another key concern is the isolation of unemployed workers who feel embarrassed, frustrated and angry about their plight.

“Yet there are smart organizations today that clearly still understand the link between health, wellness and productivity,” said Herman.

The 2010 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winners are:

  • Advanced Solutions, a division of Hewlett-Packard. At this British Columbia-based company, which provides business process and information technology outsourcing services, even the physical environment helps keep employees healthy. The office is surrounded by a bird sanctuary, with more than 12 miles of hiking trails.

  • American Cast Iron Pipe Company. This Birmingham, Ala.-based manufacturer of pipes, fire hydrants and valves has a 5,000-square-foot wellness center where employees can work out, attend health education programs and visit a physical rehabilitation clinic.

  • Leaders Bank. This Oak Brook, Ill., commercial bank emphasizes openness and transparency as a way to help employees manage stress. At staff meetings, for example, leaders openly discuss the organization’s performance and future plans. The bank also encourages employees to offer ideas for enhancing productivity and other aspects of the bank’s operation.

  • Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. This Florida health-care system invests heavily in its employees, offering access to a fitness center and a wellness menu in its cafeteria and help with emotional health, financial issues, child care and more.

  • Toronto Police Service. Leaders at Canada’s largest municipal police force believe that the better they treat people within the organization, the better those employees will treat the public. The organization offers free employee and family assistance programs, a fitness program and on-site gym and nutritional and fatigue management programs.

The 2010 Best Practices Honorees are:

  • American Cast Iron Pipe Co. The company’s WellBody Club is a voluntary screening and health coaching program. The company offers financial incentives for participating and even discounts on health-insurance premiums for employees who meet their health behavior goals.

  • ATI Physical Therapy. This comprehensive orthopedic rehabilitation provider in Bolingbrook, Ill., uses friendly competition to help keep employees healthy. Its wellness center and Get Fit wellness program help keep employees in shape so they can give patients the best possible care.

  • Brookhaven Care Centre. Part of Canada’s public health-care system, this British Columbia-based facility created the Lil’ Brooks Club, a program that allows employees to bring their children to work to serve as volunteers with the elderly residents.

  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. Responsible for regulating the province’s medical profession, this professional group created a healthy workplace initiative that includes wellness allowances that pay for gym memberships, workshops on health issues, online health assessments and a smoking-cessation program.

  • Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. In the face of rapid growth, this not-for-profit hospital in St. Paul, Minn., created a coaching program to teach managers, supervisors and human resources professionals how to help employees come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

  • Leaders Bank. When employees reported skyrocketing stress over the economy, the bank redesigned its stress-management program. The program now teaches employees how to recognize early warning signs and how to manage stress.

  • Memorial Hospital. This York, Pa., hospital launched a professional development program that enhances nurses’ ability to provide first-rate care. To advance up the “clinical ladder,” participants submit portfolios of accomplishments such as teaching, developing patient education tools or engaging in community service.

  • Northeast Delta Dental. An umbrella organization that provides dental benefits in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the company recognizes that employees have demands outside of work, too. Its flexible work policy not only makes employees happy, but it also improves customer service, saves money and helps protect the environment.

  • Rovi-Ann Arbor, Data Services. As a digital entertainment technology company, Rovi understands the importance of keeping people connected to their creativity. Its employees rank the company’s flexible scheduling and generous amounts of paid time off as some of their most valued benefits.

  • Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. The hospital found itself at a crossroads in 2003, when it faced a financial crisis, low morale and a declining reputation. In response, the organization invited employees to help create new values and mission statements that became the basis of a recovery plan.

Rebecca A. Clay is a writer in Washington, D.C.

More information about the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program and this year’s winners is available online.