5 Minute Read
Most Clevelanders can rattle off a list as long as the infamous Browns QB jersey of all the amazing entertainment, sports, and culinary attractions which make our city a great place to live, work and visit. But one of the hidden secrets of Cleveland is the health benefits access residents and employers have to support a healthier, happier lifestyle.
To highlight these benefits, Downtown Cleveland Alliance hosted a Health and Wellness Panel with experts active in the health field and those involved in Cleveland development, including:
Cindy Ballog, Manager Health Promotion, Wellness and Disease Management Medical Mutual of Ohio
Tom Starinsky, Assistance director, Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation
Denise Smith, Manager of Member experience & client services, MetroHealth services
Caitlin Myor, Wellness Director, Britton Gallagher
Panelists shared insights on the downtown setting on workplace wellness programs and ways employers can leverage the resources of the area to boost morale and participation.
What are the advantages of a downtown location on an employee wellness program?
“Being in Downtown has definitely changed our workforce. We love being Downtown. We’ve increased our health and wellness activities to include scavenger hunts throughout downtown and a walking club called ‘Walking Wednesdays’. In the winter, we take advantage of our heated parking garage and encourage employees to walk laps.” - Caitlin Myor
No matter where your company is located, implementing a wellness program is a must for today's employers seeking to gain more control over health insurance costs, increase productivity and raise employee morale. These programs aim to improve employees' well-being by encouraging them to lose weight, stop smoking or make other positive, healthy lifestyle changes.
Downtown employers, especially those in Cleveland, have some unique resources to leverage as part of a workplace wellness program. With some creativity, you or your group health broker can design a program to include:
Health challenges: Use Cleveland landmarks to create a walking scavenger hunt or step challenge. Employees can take pictures at each to earn an incentive.
“Recently we created a scavenger hunt of selfie spots in downtown. This initiative highlights how walkable downtown is and motivates employees to explore the area. They submit the photos and we post them in a mural in the office.” - Cindy Ballog
Gyms: The Downtown Cleveland and surrounding cities are booming with new work out facilities: YMCA, Rise, Title Boxing, Titans Gym, Harness Cycle Downtown, Orangetheory Fitness to name a few. Many offer corporate discounts for employees or will host your company's wellness outing.
“We take advantage of all the cool options in downtown by getting a group of employees together and taking classes after work.” - Caitlin Myor
Healthy alternatives: Encourage employees to get up and get active during the day with a bike ride, walk or kayak ride. University Hospital has bike stations located all over the city, giving employees many options for a quick or more scenic ride. Corporate plans are available for employers that want to provide annual memberships to their employees.
“The built environment needs to respond to the needs of those around us and we are seeing an increased demand for health and wellness features.” - Tom Starinsky
New facilities: The Lake Link section of the Cleveland Foundation trail opened at the beginning of the summer, improving bicycle and pedestrian access to the Cuyahoga River Valley and Towpath Trail. Create an employee walk, run or bike club for group outings before, during or after work.
“We are revamping our campus including the addition of more green space to encourage people to spend more time outside and being active.” - Denise Smith
How important are wellness programs in recruiting and retaining talent in Cleveland?
“A focus on health and wellness, like having a workout facility on site, helps attract and retain talent.” - Caitlin Myor
A company that cares about its employees' health is often viewed as a better place to work, and wellness programs can attract top talent in a competitive market. Also, demonstrating a commitment to your employees’ health can improve employee morale and strengthen retention.
“We work to offer employers options that translate into more productive employees and increase retention. We use these same methods with our employees.” - Cindy Ballog
According to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Cleveland is home to the 8th fastest growing population of 25 to 34-year-old college graduates. Additionally, Downtown's population has risen 79 percent, and the number of residents with advanced degrees has increased 136 percent.
This group of potential employees is physically active, looking for unique benefits and amenities as part of their employment package from their next employer.
Some of the benefits employees can experience after joining a wellness program:
Increased well-being, improved self-image, and higher self-esteem
Improved coping skills with stress or other health factors
Reduced risk of developing chronic or life-threatening conditions
Increased motivation to improve health
Improved overall health
Lower costs for health care (fewer doctor visits, lower premiums, less need for expensive care, etc.)
Employees who experience these positive changes and benefits will often feel more loyal to their company and be more grateful for the company’s commitment to their health.
“MetroHealth started an employee wellness program 5 years ago. We started just encouraging employees to participate in the program and this is now being reflected in our healthcare costs. We encourage both wellness and overall wellbeing.” - Denise Smith
Wellness affects your company’s bottom line in many ways—in particular, it can lower health care costs, increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and raise employee morale. Because employees spend many of their waking hours at work, the workplace is an ideal setting to address health and wellness issues.
When sponsoring a wellness program, the main hurdle to success is employee engagement. The benefits of wellness programs can only be realized if a significant number of your employees take part in your efforts. In order to gain buy-in, some businesses offer employees an incentive for participating or reaching certain health goals.
Work with your group health benefits broker to help analyze your needs to design an effective program that meets your objectives and engages your employees.