How do you inspire engagement among employees?

Colleen Reilly

Over 1,000 people from across Colorado listened as a panel of CEOs, general counsel and presidents addressed the question: “How can an organization create employee engagement?” At the 2017 Colorado Business Outlook Economic Forum, now in its 54th year, Colleen Reilly, the founder and vice president of Total Well-Being, a Telligen Company, moderated an executive panel discussion about how to create healthier, happier and more engaged employees through new and innovative programs.

Reilly uncovered how each of the panelists’ organizations addresses well-being in their workforce and explored what types of programs are best for employees. Drawing upon her 18 years’ experience in the health and well-being industry, Reilly engaged with the panelists to reach the following conclusions:

Well-being is more than just physical health

  • Well-being stems further than just physical health to include financial health, emotional health and workplace engagement.

Focusing on overall well-being pays off

  • Nelnet, for example, has seen higher employee engagement scores and lower healthcare costs, paying only roughly 70% of projected employee health care expenses since focusing on physical, financial and emotional wellbeing. Nelnet is able to waive premiums for all employees on employee-only coverage.

“Employees who are happy and healthy provide better service and show stronger engagement throughout their work.” — Bill Munn, general counsel for Nelnet

Key differences in a well-being approach vs traditional wellness approach include:

  • focusing on financial and emotional health in addition to physical wellness
  • focusing on mindfulness and emotional intelligence
  • having best-in-class employee engagement
  • professional development opportunities.

Buy-in from employees cannot be underestimated

  • To successfully implement a well-being program, organizations need “buy-in” from employees. Leaders must show the purpose of the program and implement it gradually to allow employees time to adjust.
  • Reilly noted that she has seen more success implementing wellness programs when companies ask what employees need or want and hold focus groups with middle management.

Mindfulness and emotional intelligence are the future of employee well-being

  • Focusing on mindfulness and emotional intelligence is more important than IQ. More mindful employees are more engaged, able to combat depression and cut down on traditional medication.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ wellness program,” said Matt Steinfort, executive vice president of Zayo Group.

There are a myriad of competing priorities when trying to transform a culture. It takes a forward-thinking organization partnered with the right well-being strategist to develop a culturally relevant approach to well-being that helps both employees thrive as well as the bottom-line within the organization, the community and overall economy.

Reilly has been instrumental in advocating initiatives for changes in the traditional approach to employee wellness in her own consulting and program development. To discuss how you can create healthy, happy and thriving employees while managing costs, contact Colleen Reilly at or 303-332-4513.

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