York Region wins with multi-faceted, tech-savvy wellness strategy

For its multi-faceted and tech-savvy wellness strategy, the Regional Municipality of York took home the Sanofi Wellness Pioneer Award at Benefits Canada‘s 2018 Workplace Benefits Awards in Toronto on Oct. 11.

Since the organization introduced the wellness program in 2006, it has ensured is effectiveness by leveraging data analytics. Annually, its integrated data analysis highlights health risks and claims performance for the employee population.

With this knowledge in hand, York tailors its wellness program to fit the identified priorities, including a wide range of actions such as biometric screening clinics, education sessions, health risk assessments, health challenges, wellness fairs and mental-health programming.

Read: Carleton University recognized as wellness pioneer for decade-long health programming

In addition to its employee assistance program, which provides around-the-clock support for individuals in distress, York also provides staff with a program called LifeSpeak on Demand, where employees can access wellness tutorials. It also offers online resources to help staff with weight management, reducing stress, sleep and encouraging a more active lifestyle.

“We’re fortunate to have a . . . senior [leadership] team that believes that employee health and well-being is fundamental to performance and that primary prevention is the key to success,” says Brittany Dunlop, lead of employee wellness and benefits for the Regional Municipality of York.

As for mental health, York implements the national standard for psychological health and safety’s strategy, which is built on the five pillars of programs, policies, benefits, training and assessment. The organization’s goal is to build the importance of psychological safety into the culture of the workplace through staff education.

Read: Staples Canada earns mental-health award for focus on early prevention

York believes these offerings must go hand-in-hand with a communication strategy that ensures employees know what’s available and how to take advantage. To this end, it recently launched an online wellness platform and app that rewards healthy habits and encourages employees to establish personalized health goals, connect with colleagues with similar interests and prompts them to participate in company-wide wellness challenges. Measuring the results from these activities has also been a key component to ensuring the program’s effectiveness.

“A lot can be done without a big budget,” says Dunlop. “Recognizing small, impactful changes that happen at the front line can have a really big difference on employee health. It doesn’t have to be a huge financial investment to have impact. It would be my recommendation to other organizations to start small and use the vendors that you have to suss out more of their resources that already exist.”

Read the full list of 2018 Workplace Benefits Awards winners here. And stay tuned in the coming days to learn more about each of the winners.