Franklin Templeton awarded for holistic employee health approach

With its flexible yet comprehensive approach to employee well-being, Franklin Templeton Investments took home the award for a health and wellness program with fewer than 1,000 employees at Benefits Canada’s 2019 Workplace Benefits Awards in Toronto on Oct. 17.

“I think our holistic approach to health — in that it’s not just the physical components that make someone healthy — is why we were nominated for this award,” says Christyn Oda, the organization’s corporate wellness consultant. “The social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual elements also make up someone’s quality of life. And that’s what our focus is at FTI: making sure we hit each of those different dimensions.”

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Inspired by the interests and ambitions of its workforce, Franklin Templeton’s wellness program is driven by feedback and employee buy-in, constantly evolving to accommodate the organization’s greatest asset: its employees. “Because it’s a small company, you get to know people pretty intimately and learn what they’re looking for or might like,” says Oda. “The employees were our main motivation [for implementing this program].”

When it comes to participating in wellness events and initiatives, employees exercise full autonomy, taking control of their personal wellness journeys rather than being coerced or persuaded, she says. Employee engagement is a key value leveraged through the wellness initiatives. And the company’s collaborative culture is valued in every aspect of the program, connecting employees within and between offices through health.

The overall impact of the health and wellness program is a profoundly happier and healthier company, according to Oda, who noted in the award entry that this was accomplished through various avenues.

For example, physical strategies include fitness assessments and classes, personal fitness program design and workouts of the month or week. This year, however, Franklin Templeton’s aim was to take a direction outside the physical, focusing on emotional strategies as well. These included wellness consultations, meditation and a weekly stretch break, all connecting employees to their thoughts and feelings and enabling them to cope with life’s challenges in a productive manner, says Oda.

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“The emotional is something that you don’t necessarily need a membership for. It’s about looking after yourself and how you’re feeling, how you’re coping with stress. And it’s more like mental health as well. It’s exercise for the brain, if you will.”

The organization also offers social strategies, such as an employee events committee, community events and a Yammer page, which promotes services to support all wellness dimensions both in and outside the work environment. In addition, its intellectual strategies include wellness bulletins and clinics and a webinar education series. Lastly, the program includes strategies such as fitness challenges and awards and a flexible benefits package.

Franklin Templeton measures the impact of these initiatives through an annual health risk assessment. The 20-minute questionnaire helps evaluate the state of employees’ health. Following completion of the questionnaire, it generates a personalized report for each employee based on 13 risk factors, and provides suggestions, tips and advice on how to improve the at-risk health areas.

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As for the future, the company is considering how to extend the reach of its health and wellness programs. “Virtual health care is something we’re exploring currently,” says Oda. “We’re looking more into global wellness because, right now, it’s a bit more local. We’re looking to try and have a bigger reach, but still have that intimate connection with each employee so they don’t feel as though they’re just another number.”