Approximately 80 percent of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network’s workforce are frontline healthcare workers. They are educated and savvy about well-being, yet it can be difficult to find time to take care of themselves. “It’s hard for direct patient caregivers to engage in well-being services during their shifts when they barely have time to go to the restroom,” said Marin Koebert, account specialist with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Workforce Health. “For us, offering digital services, and building well-being into the everyday experience is a requirement for our population.”
The Froedtert & MCW employer services arm, Workforce Health, offers a variety of well-being services for its staff, while also delivering support to the community, including local employers. They help improve access to well-being resources inside and outside of work through on-site workplace clinics, which offer a variety of preventive and primary care services, occupational health and well-being services such as group health programs, challenges, and more.
“Our goal is to engage our extraordinary people in their well-being while improving the overall health of our population and our community,” said Eileen Quinlan, director of operations for Workforce Health. “Well-being can’t just be something else on the to-do list. It has to be a daily experience for employees. That’s really important to us.”
The Workforce Health team believes well-being services are best delivered in an integrated fashion, versus being viewed as a standalone program. “We don’t have to own and do everything,” Quinlan said. “We work with a long list of groups and departments internally, including benefits, diversity and inclusion, business resource groups, and organizational development. You can’t operate in a vacuum. Every initiative must be consistent with the organization’s vision and mission.”
According to Quinlan, well-being is integrated into every corner of the organization. A combination of global thinking and specific actions are used to execute this strategy. “There are many ways we look at well-being globally and apply it broadly throughout our organization,” Quinlan said. “We encourage ride sharing and alternative transportation to limit individual transport into the medical center. We evaluate how healthy our food services are, for patients, families, and staff. We offer free virtual fitness classes at all hours of the day. The list goes on and on.”
Even with a robust approach to well-being in place, the pandemic cast a spotlight on the need for new resources, which included providing more than 300,000 meals to staff, offering onsite daycare, and implementing group health programs and app-based curriculum on resiliency and emotional well-being. “We also increased PTO accruals and minimum wage, while offering virtual visit options with our workplace clinics,” Quinlan said.
The health network and the Workforce Health team also enhanced communication efforts to promote existing resources as well. Froedtert Health’s CEO, Cathy Jacobsen, helped raise awareness of key resources by communicating weekly with staff, focusing on the top three things our staff members needed to know each week. “Our employee assistance program (EAP) offers ten free counseling sessions, so we made sure employees were aware of that benefit,” Koebert said. “Child and elder care programming, peer support groups, financial counseling: all of these resources are available. We needed to raise awareness so our people could take full advantage of these benefits.” The Workforce Health team leveraged the Froedtert & MCW communication platform “Workplace” and their intranet site to serve as a source of truth so that employees always knew where to find the latest information and guidance.
These efforts paid off in a major way.
“One of our staff members shared that their children were struggling with social changes because of the pandemic. They saw one of our postings about free counseling through the EAP and reached out to get help. Because of this support, they received effective strategies for helping their family combat isolation and anxiety. This was all made possible because we spent extra time promoting services and benefits that were readily available,” Koebert said. By increasing awareness of current resources and increasing access to digital support, Workforce Health saw a positive effect on engagement.
“When we shifted to more virtual services, we actually saw an increase in engagement,” Quinlan said. “As an example, with our virtual fitness classes, we had four times the participation compared to when we were only offering onsite fitness classes.”
“In addition, we aligned our well-being services with the Froedtert & MCW app being used to manage activities such as COVID screenings,” said Quinlan. “We included access to employer well-being services within the app, and since staff members were already accustomed to using it, it was a natural transition to use the app as a front door to our well-being services as well.”
Advancements in Collaboration
WELCOA Benchmark #2 – Collaboration in Support of Wellness is an increasing strength for Froedtert & MCW health network.
“We recently worked with our benefits consultant to develop a three-year roadmap, leveraging market data, trends, stakeholder input, and other factors,” Quinlan said. “We now have workgroups across the organization meeting regularly and developing services to help staff members. That collaboration is something we’ve prioritized, and it’s really great to see it come to life.”
Also fueling greater collaboration is a commitment to getting internal team members aligned when it comes to well-being.
“The WELCOA faculty program has been very impactful for us,” Koebert said. “We encourage Workforce Health staff to be WELCOA faculty, and currently 13 of our employees have achieved that designation, more than any other employer in Wisconsin. This helps keep us at the forefront of wellness trends. Our people get training and a working foundation on which to apply their creativity. This also helps us establish a common language so that we are all on the same page.”
Signs of Success
The Froedtert team gauges the success of their well-being services by evaluating three main categories:
- Engagement – we measure more than 10,000 total well-being contacts with Froedtert Health staff members each year.
- Satisfaction – Our services maintain over 90% top box scores for overall satisfaction.
- Improve Population Health – Each of our group health programs has measured outcomes. For example, 68% of participants in our Road to Resiliency program self-reported improved well-being.
The Workforce Health team credits their ability to deliver personalized support as an important factor in their success.
“We meet people where they are, and the process unfolds from there,” Koebert said. “Through every single doorway, whether it’s the emergency department, the workplace clinic, or attending a virtual well-being event, we have to be on the other side to greet the individual and start the journey.”
Quinlan believes that Workforce Health’s commitment to staying on the cutting edge through continuous learning is a key to its effectiveness, as well as a core responsibility given its status as a leading healthcare provider in the region.
“Because we are an academic medical center, we have become the resource of choice throughout the pandemic,” Quinlan said. “We’ve received questions from so many different angles, both from internal teams as well as employers in our community. It’s been humbling to serve as a resource for so many. We have to be constantly improving and pushing the envelope. That’s a role we have to play.”
The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin regional health network is a partnership between Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin supporting a shared mission of patient care, innovation, medical research, and education. Our health network operates eastern Wisconsin’s only academic medical center and adult Level I Trauma Center at Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, an internationally recognized training and research center engaged in thousands of clinical trials and studies. The Froedtert & MCW health network, which includes eight hospital locations, nearly 2,000 physicians and more than 45 health centers and clinics, draws patients from throughout the Midwest and the nation.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Workforce Health leverages the expertise and innovation behind the health network to deliver top-rated care through employer services and processes to meet the needs of businesses, employees and budgets. Workforce Health is the provider of wellness programming, workplace clinics, and occupational health services to Froedtert Health staff, as well as to clients throughout southeast Wisconsin.
Want to learn more about Froedtert’s program, or how your wellness efforts can keep pace with the increasing speed of change at work?