Growing an employee wellness program

Nov 29, 2020

Healthy employees are more productive, have fewer sick days, fewer accidents, and are happier in their professional and personal lives.

Studies consistently show the benefits of healthy employees. Those include improved morale and productivity, better mental health, fewer sick days, reduced healthcare and insurance costs, fewer accidents, better team building, and, most importantly, overall happiness in both professional and personal life.

Blackstone initiated a company-wide health and wellness program in August 2018 based on an employee survey to gauge interest. Every employee completed the survey and responses were positive. Participants were interested in improving these areas: lifetime health, workplace and personal health, safety, nutrition, and life skills. An internal health and wellness team was created consisting of the corporate health and safety officer (CHSO) and two other staff members. The program kicked off with periodic emails on relevant health and wellness topics that were areas of interest on the original survey.

In 2019, Blackstone offered three health and wellness challenges. The challenges – in the spring, summer, and during the end-of-year holidays – included a broad range of options within several categories, including physical condition and exercise fitness, nutrition, emotional and personal growth, and positive workplace environment/team building. The Holiday Challenge focused on stress management and wellness, exercise and health, and finances and gift giving.

Participants chose three items from a list of options to work on during each challenge and shared their goals with the CHSO. The challenges lasted about four weeks each. Blackstone provided incentives for participation, such as Blackstone branded Yeti tumblers (which were extremely popular!). Most employees actively participated in the challenges, and at the conclusion of each, Blackstone held a celebration with time for employees to share about progress. A key element to each challenge, and the program, is the backdrop of encouragement and support. All progress is celebrated, whether goals are met or not.

In 2020 our program became more formalized as Blackstone participated in Humana’s Go365 Program. Most eligible staff are part of Go365, which offers both a phone app and an online portal that track online points. Employees have participated in several step challenges (where there is always a good amount of friendly competition), educational events, and volunteer activities. Blackstone has provided incentives to keep engagement high, such as Amazon and food delivery gift cards, and will offer larger incentives at the end of the year like fitness trackers based on the total number of points earned during the year.

Also, in 2020 the CHSO started sending out regular mid-week health and wellness updates as we navigated the challenges of COVID-19. These emails provided support, resources, encouragement, and company-specific updates to Blackstone staff as they worked remotely while also maintaining field work schedules. Blackstone also developed COVID-19 protocols to address various scenarios, such as working from home, returning to the office, and traveling, all that provided health and wellness information and state-specific requirements. The weekly emails also provide updates to the Go365 program and company-wide challenges and events.

The health and wellness program continues to be a success and will no doubt keep growing. Blackstone employees are engaged and keeping active, whether it’s a run or walk after work, a 5K with coworkers, or getting more steps in around the office or participating in a current challenge. And, our team is thinking more intentionally about their health and wellbeing. This includes scheduling regular physicals, implementing regular exercise routines, managing stress, developing healthier eating habits, practicing mindfulness, and being aware of possible mental health concerns. We look forward to continuing to build our program in 2021, growing it with creative challenges, fun activities, meaningful discussions and good information focused on the encouragement and support of our employees’ wellbeing.

Anne Melia, CHMM, is a senior project manager at Blackstone Environmental, Inc. Contact her at

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