Prioritizing Workplace Wellness + Mental Health of Team Members
One of the attributes that lured me to healthcare was the ability to work with amazing clinical teams who deliver compassionate care to patients and their families during the most difficult times in their lives. Watching these teams perform at the top of their game has been nothing short of humbling and amazing. Though they did not ask for it, these teams have had the opportunity to shine brightly as they have all taken center stage in this horrible pandemic.
Though the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on all of us, the toll on healthcare workers has been even greater. Caregiver burnout and the weight of the pandemic on mental health are currently top workplace wellness priorities for our organization.
To address this, UnityPoint Health has prioritized mental health and well-being resources for all team members, and we encourage those who need help to feel comfortable talking about it.
UnityPoint Health is an integrated health system based in West Des Moines with a footprint across Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin. We employ more than 33,000 team members and have relationships with more than 450 physician clinics, 20 regional and 19 community network hospitals, seven community mental health centers, four accredited colleges and home care services.
Investing in Employees
During the last two years we have worked diligently to invest in team members in three key areas:
Team Member Empowerment – In 2021, we raised minimum pay to $15 per hour and provided all team members with COVID appreciation bonuses. We also updated our onboarding and orientation process to enhance team members’ first impression experience to build culture and drive retention. We continue to monitor and adjust our strategies in a market that is highly unpredictable.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) – In 2022, we hired a Chief Diversity Officer, who leads our system and regional DEI efforts to focus on ensuring all team members feel like they belong at UnityPoint Health. We have established various focus and employee resource groups where team members can share backgrounds, experiences and discuss strategies to make UnityPoint Health a more inclusive work environment. We also provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ team members to do their best work.
Leadership Effectiveness – UnityPoint Health offers resources around teambuilding, engagement and retention to help leaders and team members continue to grow in their careers at UnityPoint Health. We also support team members through performance management, merit increases, You Matter Day and offer recognition opportunities like Honoring YOU, where leaders and team members can commend colleagues for accomplishments, big and small.
Additionally, we’re using a variety of resources to deliver mental health care to our team members:
Employee Assistance Program – Confidential and compassionate support for team members and their immediate family members offering support for depression, anxiety, marital problems and substance abuse
HealBright – Accessible self-paced mental and emotional wellness classes
- Well-being Classes – Instructor-led classes that include topics like Change Resilience and Burning Bright Instead of Burning Out
- Wellbeats – Free access to more than 1,000 fitness, nutrition and mindfulness classes for all ages and abilities
- Workplace Violence Prevention – Safety practices are prioritized with de-escalation and problem-solving courses, and are rolled out systemwide
For these workplace wellness efforts I’ve mentioned, as well as our focus on promoting diversity, employee engagement and professional growth, UnityPoint Health was recently recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the 150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare. We are the only health system in Iowa to be named to this year’s list and one of only a handful of health systems in Illinois and Wisconsin to be included.
This is a tremendous honor for our healthcare organization and it’s something that we’re very proud of.
We have a commitment to a strong workplace culture and to our team members. If you’re interested in joining our team, I encourage you to search the career page on our website: unitypoint.org/joinourteam.
Whether you’re working from home or in the office, your wellness should be a top priority. Learn more about getting active and keeping tabs on your mental health here.
Aaron Gillingham has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of UnityPoint Health since October 2021. Gillingham has a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communications from Missouri State University and a master's in Human Resource Development from Villanova University.