In January, Healthiest Employers recognized Allegacy Federal Credit Union ($1.0B; Winston-Salem, NC) as one of its "100 Healthiest Workplaces in America" in 2014. Allegacy, which came in at No. 90, was the only credit union and one of three North Carolina companies to make the national list. The acknowledgement comes on the heels of earning top honors as the healthiest employer in the Piedmont Triad for two of the past three years.
“We feel really good, there’s no doubt about it,” says Garrick Throckmorton, human resources manager at Allegacy.
Allegacy encourages employee wellness in part to advance its own mission. As employees are its greatest resource, investing in employee health and wellness is one of the smartest investments Allegacy can make. Healthy employees are more productive and productive employees are more valuable.
CU QUICK FACTS
ALLEGACY CREDIT UNION
data as of 12.31.13
HQ: Winston-Salem, NC
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 4.19%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 10.74%
“The average employee spends approximately 90,000 hours of their life working,” Throckmorton says. “The healthier our employees are, the better they are able to serve our members and help us live out our mission.”
For this reason, Allegacy’s approach to employee wellness isn’t just about flu shots, blood pressure, and annual checkups. It even digs deeper than eating right and exercising more. The credit union embraces a “holistic view,” according to Throckmorton, which recognizes the link between physical and financial health. In 2009, it launched its AllHealth Wellness program that focuses on mind, body, soul, and finances. And in half a decade, those tenets have taken root.
“We design the programming side of our AllHealth Wellness culture to align to those four key areas,” Throckmorton says. “That culture has become a natural way of how we treat our employees.”
With branches stretching from north-central North Carolina down to Charlotte — and a lone branch in New Jersey — Allegacy’s 300-plus employees are scattered. Despite distance limitations on the program, most employees take advantage of the wellness opportunities the credit union affords them. A full 96% of Allegacy’s current employees participate in some form with AllHealth Wellness. This is the credit union’s highest ever participation rate. Throckmorton credits the program’s success with its ability to reach employees where they are.
“The programming side has always been intentionally customized to meet the needs of folks where they sit every single day,” Throckmorton says. “[That] has been a big part of the sustainability and success we’ve had in the program.”
Health And Productivity
Allegacy has three goals for its AllHealth Wellness program:
Reduce the incidence of employees coming to work sick (presenteeism);
Reduce the incidence of employees missing work becuse of sickness (absenteeism); and
Lower the risk factors associated with employee health.
When the credit union designed the program, it consulted with cardiologists, internal medicine professionals, and primary care specialists to identify which biometric factors it should track to ascertain what Throckmorton calls an “analytical snapshot of the overall health of the organization.” Today, Allegacy uses annual health-risk assessments and biometric screenings to monitor factors such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, body mass index, and blood sugar.
“We want to see our employees over time have less and less risk factors associated with their health,” Throckmorton says. “Thankfully, we’ve been reaching that goal. Employees continue to become healthier as we not only track the numbers on the back end but also design the program and the environment they’re in every day to help facilitate that.”
Those boosts in employee health and wellness at Allegacy have translated into increased productivity as well as a 16% reduction in days absent per year.
But how does the credit union know the employees that are showing up to work are physically able to put more time and effort into their work? Because it uses the risk factors listed above to track general sickness. The fewer risk factors an employee exhibits, the more present they are going to be in the workplace; employees that exhibit one or fewer risk factor fall into the ideal risk pool. According to Throckmorton, in the past three years, that pool has increased 84%. It's a positive sign: employees are taking their health more seriously, are working more effectively, and are more productive.
“When you think about productivity, you think about presenteeism,” Throckmorton. “The healthier the employees, the less those distractions are in the mix at work.”
What Does Holistic Health Look Like?
Allegacy Credit Union’s AllHealth Wellness program focuses on four areas of health.
Mind: Allegacy focuses primarily on reducing and managing stress. It occasionally brings in massage specialists and encourages employees to spend 15 minutes in good hands. Through a partnership with a local hospital, mental health experts speak on-site with employees about work-life balance and how to manage factors that impact overall health.
Body: Allegacy encourages proper nutritional habits as well as physical fitness. The credit union partners with the locally based online farmer’s market Backyard Produce as well as the community YMCA. In its Winston-Salem headquarters, the credit union has free on-site gym facilities where it also offers classes to all employees.
Soul: Some departments meet at 3 p.m. every day for a brief stretching break. This personal time out allows employees to relax and recharge at a difficult time of day. Plus, it’s good for team morale. “As silly as it sounds they have a lot of fun doing it,” says Garrick Throckmorton, human resources manager at Allegacy. “They look forward to it, it improves their health, and it builds camaraderie.”
Finances: Allegacy operates a non-profit organization, the Center for Smart Financial Choices, to educate employees and community members. The center teaches people how to make smart financial choices. After all, studies show financial woes can lead to higher levels of stress and even physical illness.