Creating a Culture of Well-being
On Tuesday I had the opportunity to introduce Beth Riley, director of employee well-being at the Mayo Clinic, at a guest lecture she presented to the UMMC community. Most of you know we have a long-standing relationship with the Mayo Clinic that has continued to progress and greatly expand during the last few years. One of the benefits of that relationship is our ability to share ideas and learn from each other about areas of common interest.
One of those areas is employee wellness and well-being. Mayo has been at this a long time: They established a formal employee wellness program in the 1980s. Through the years, the clinic has developed many activities designed to enhance the physical and mental health of its 65,000 employees.
More recently, Mayo’s focus has broadened beyond health-centered activities to encompass a culture of well-being. According to Beth, the clinic has recognized that the “employee experience” has a strategic dimension: A better employee experience equals an improved patient experience.
We’ve come to that realization ourselves as we’ve been on our own journey. Several years ago, with the recruitment of Dr. Josh Mann and the re-establishment of the Department of Preventive Medicine, we began making a significant investment in the health of our own employees. After all, if we as the state’s only academic medical center believe our mission is to improve the health of the state’s citizens, then it only followed that we needed to get our own house in order. We had to walk the wellness talk – and I mean that quite literally!
Since then, through the efforts of Josh, Dr. Dan Williams, a growing staff and an institutional Wellness Committee, our efforts have gained momentum and multiplied. We’ve had farmer’s markets and weight loss challenges, fitness walks, Zumba classes and lectures on stress reduction, to name a few. We’ve ignited a wellness movement and made healthier living more integral to the everyday lives of many of our faculty, staff and students.
Last July, we created the Office of Well-being to coordinate the many, varied initiatives that fall under the wellness umbrella. Among the most important of those is our effort to address provider burnout, a significant challenge in health care. Since we started working on this issue, a task force has made a series of detailed recommendations; we’ve hosted employee focus groups to learn more about the frustrations faculty and staff face that can lead to burnout; and we’ve established an advisory group with Medical Center leaders who can address system-level improvements to reduce and prevent burnout.
Our work in wellness and well-being will only grow, and that’s good, because I consider it to be one of our strategic priorities. What we need now is a baseline understanding of where our employees and students stand in relation to their own sense of well-being.
For that reason, on Feb. 19, we are partnering with a national firm to roll out the Well-being Index, a short (7-9 questions, depending on your role) confidential survey that will give participants immediate feedback about their individual status; give our Office of Well-being aggregate scores that will tell us how we are doing as an institution; and guide our future efforts. I highly recommend this survey to you.
The Mayo Clinic, with an older well-being program and greater resources, has a significant head start on us in the development of a culture of wellness. But Beth’s presentation confirmed to me that we are on the right track and making real progress. We must take good care of ourselves so we can take the best care of those we serve, as we all strive to create A Healthier Mississippi.