A- A+

Creating + Cultivating a Culture of Wellness (Even in a Pandemic)

Culture of Wellness

July 13, 2021

As a health and wellness company, we have long recognized that wellness is key to our corporate culture. It’s not an add-on program to reduce medical costs, never to be reviewed again. To be effective, it needs to permeate the organization in day-to-day decisions and a myriad of ways to create positive behavior changes. And that means it needs to evolve.

In the past, we had a well-intentioned but complicated wellness program that was designed to keep employee health top of mind but it required a lot of tracking and documentation. We shifted to a simplified approach that focuses on preventive medical, dental and vision exams. We believe that if our employees engage in meaningful dialogue with a provider, the path to better health will begin.

Then came the pandemic. Suddenly, our employees were spending hours staring at screens, sitting at makeshift desks, participating in virtual meetings all day and trying to manage the palpable stress that came with COVID-19. Thankfully, our established wellness culture enabled us to quickly survey and pivot to deliver for our team. While addressing the physical work environment with work-from-home equipment options was relatively easy, we also saw the importance of keeping employees engaged with one another in new and different ways.

Mental Wellness

Workplace wellness has evolved beyond physical health. In the past year, the impact of COVID-19 elevated the awareness of the importance of mental, emotional and financial wellbeing. Our One Team value is critical to our culture whether we’re together in a conference room or working in neighborhoods across Greater Des Moines (DSM). One of the first things we did was focus on communication by increasing our weekly company e-newsletter from once a week to three times a week. In addition to keeping employees informed of changing office protocols throughout the pandemic, they also provided motivation, humor and inspiration while our team members were working from home.

Recognizing the need to address emotional wellness, we hosted a webinar event with a clinical psychologist for all employees. During these sessions, employees received tips and best practices on managing stress and anxiety — and they reinforced that others were experiencing similar feelings. Employees were also encouraged to engage in optional mental health and emotional wellness learning opportunities offered virtually by various local community partners.

Leaders began having much deeper discussions to understand how their teams were responding to the many disruptions of the past year. Asking, “How are you?” has transitioned from a superficial greeting to a conversation starter for understanding what their team members were experiencing and what they need. Our culture helped make this possible.

The Green Room

In 2020, Delta Dental introduced The Green Room, a virtual conversation series for business leaders. I invite you to join us for our next event, “The Green Room: Creating a Culture of Wellness” on Tuesday, July 20, at Noon CST. This session will explore the importance of a robust corporate wellness program. Attendance is free and you will hear best practice examples and insights through a panel discussion I will moderate and participate in. Joining me in the conversation will be Brent Vander Waal, CEO of ITA Group, and Teresa Hovell, benefits manager of Vermeer Corporation.

To register for the webinar, visit this link: The Green Room.

Wellness encapsulates the physical, emotional and financial well-being of employees, partners, customers and community. Involving an employee's total being is not just something nice for an employer to do, it’s necessary to maximize engagement of current employees and attract top talent. Delta Dental of Iowa has learned that wellness as an element of corporate culture has to be flexible in order to be successful, adapting to the changing needs of employees. We hope you can join us in “The Green Room” to hear more about the importance of corporate wellness programs.

You can also find more information on workplace wellness here.

The Green Room is a conversation series hosted by Delta Dental of Iowa that is designed to help business leaders gain insights for managing, motivating, and achieving continued success for their businesses and employees.

Count on the Greater Des Moines Partnership for economic recovery information and business and industry recommendations as the region moves forward from the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about current impacts and future trends from the DSM Forward playbooks here.

Looking for tools to help grow your startup or small business? Visit the Small Business Resources Hub to find the information you need or sign up for Mentor Connection to build relationships with a trusted group of mentors.

Jeff Russell

Jeff Russell is the president and CEO of Delta Dental of Iowa, a health and wellness company providing dental and vision benefits to 1.5 million members. In addition, he serves on several boards of directors with a focus on improving the community through strategy and innovation.