Nashville's healthcare companies set the bar for wellness initiatives | Crain's Nashville

Nashville's healthcare companies set the bar for wellness initiatives

It’s time to make employee wellness a priority in Nashville. 

According to a new study from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, unhealthy workers with hypertension and diabetes are costing Nashville-area businesses a whopping $500 million annually. This is largely due to employees coming to work unwell and with reduced productivity, along with medical treatment costs.  

So what’s a company to do? With Nashville firmly established as the healthcare capital of the Southeast, one might think that these companies would place a higher importance on employee wellness than companies in other industries – and they do. 

Practicing what they preach

“Healthcare organizations by their nature are dedicated to wellness," said Scott Phillips, managing director at Nashville-based Healthcare Management Partners. "So as a healthcare organization, it’s the right thing to do to offer wellness programs to employees and encourage them to adopt it.”

LifePoint Health, a Brentwood-based company focused on bringing healthcare options to rural communities, echoes Health Management Partners’ stance. The company takes a holistic approach to wellness, with a focuses not only on an employee’s physical health, but his or her emotional and financial well-being as well.

The keystone of LifePoint Health’s emotional wellness program is its Employee Assistance Program, which allows employees and their families to access resources like confidential counseling as often as they like. The inclusion of family members is a point of emphasis.

“We want an employee’s partner and children to have access to the health education, supportive tools, and resources they need to lead healthy lives as well. We know that wellness goes beyond just the one person we may employ within a family,” said Pam Belcher, the company's senior vice president of human resources and talent.

Startups are fully invested in promoting employee health to the same degree as established players, and in some cases do so even more aggressively.  The healthcare software startup ProviderTrust may be small, but its wellness efforts are mighty.

The team of 42 is actively involved with Eat Well Nashville, an organization dedicated to providing businesses with healthy and affordable lunch options. An open workspace where 70 percent of employees utilize standing desks, along with an active Lunch-and-Learn program, also keeps morale up. Recently, ProviderTrust shifted to Blue Cross Blue Shield, and covers 100 percent of employees’ medical, vision and dental needs.

“We try to be as conscious of health as possible,” Talent Development Leader Jodi Murphy told Crain’s Nashville. “Some of our co-founders were college athletes, so really from the top down we've seen leadership make it a priority.”

Other industries are taking the hint

The wellness plan at Dell Nashville is nothing to scoff at. When asked about their wellness program, the list of initiatives and benefits went on and on. Highlights include an onsite fitness center open Monday through Friday, group fitness classes each day, active workstations and an onsite occupational health nurse who evaluates each team member’s individual workspace.

EHS Senior Advisor Dustin Brooks explained that the 1,500 team members have a board of about nine members that meet bi-weekly to come up with new health initiatives and schedule a plan for the year. Their efforts do not go unrecognized.

“One of the things that we are really proud of as well is Dell corporate has an award that you can sign up for every year," Brooks said. "A lot of it is promoting wellness events and team member engagement. For the past four years, Dell Nashville has won platinum, which is the highest level.”

January 12, 2018 - 1:34pm