Success Stories

Roice-Hurst Humane Society / Grand Junction, CO

Certified Healthy Workplace™ Leader

We spoke with Roice-Hurst Humane Society, a longtime member of Health Links' Healthy Workplace Network and winners of our 2021 Integration Award and 2022 Continued Excellence Award. See what approaches Roice-Hurst takes in pursuing Total Worker Health® for its employees.


Why is it important to be a healthy workplace?

We have a fantastic team at Roice-Hurst and that’s because we’ve built a culture supportive of resilience. We know that life throws obstacles at us both in and outside of the workplace. By being aware that each of us is living through different life circumstances, we can be in tune with what resources provide the healthiest outcomes for our team. The strength of our team directly correlates with how well we are serving our mission.

How does being a healthy workplace relate to your mission or vision statement?

Focusing on health and well-being keeps staff close to each other through building trust, communicating openly and safely, and inspiring confidence for everyone to feel like a unique contributor. Having that focus and communicating it, especially when we are recruiting new positions, has been key in finding talented individuals in the midst of a difficult hiring climate.

One of our unofficial mottos is “Default Empathy,” which we first introduced as a concept to practice with each other. But when introducing the importance of quality customer service in our training regimen, we want the default empathy mindset to reverberate in every connection we make with the public. That empathetic approach brings us closer to our mission to promote bonds between pets and their people. Removing labels and judgment establishes trust, prevents negative attitudes towards others (“drinking poison”), and breaks down the barriers to seeking assistance for their pets, especially when individuals find themselves in a place where they need to ask for help.

How does your organization create a culture of health, safety, and well-being for employees?

We believe every team member should experience psychological safety and a sense of belonging. This means that every person should feel comfortable in communicating openly, especially in times when they need to admit error or in moments when they have an idea to share, and they should feel supported by peers and supervisors alike. Animal welfare is constantly changing and during the job interview, we share that we do not fear new ideas; we embrace them. We want everyone sitting at the table to know they have a voice.

In addition, we want the team to share what resources they would find most impactful for us to offer. We distribute an anonymous needs and interests survey annually before finalizing our wellness budget. When considering our benefits package, we know the importance of taking employee feedback into account, because we cannot be successful in building a healthful culture if we are not listening to the needs of our team.

When it comes to benefits, we’ve found that people don’t necessarily use a service they have access to, even if it’s free for them. Our wellness committee analyzes ease vs friction when it comes to accessing what we offer and works to remove friction or barriers to participation. Sometimes this means we bring representatives from the agencies we partner with so they can give a 360-degree scope of what the benefit is, and sometimes it means we bring the service to the staff. We also email detailed steps so there is minimal difficulty in using a new service.

How does leadership champion / promote health and safety?

Members of our leadership team make up the wellness committee, so a lot of formal planning and ideas come out of our monthly planning sessions. Staff wellness is the first standing discussion point each month. Our leadership team also models and normalizes disconnected time off, healthy work boundaries, and vulnerability. For example, our director requires that every staff member schedule an annual full week off that coincides with the conclusion of the employee’s “busy season” so that the time is protected and anticipated by the rest of the team.

What impacts have your programs had on employees, their families and the surrounding community?

We introduced a new satisfaction survey in 2022. The survey was conducted by Sparck and results indicated that 89% of staff are passionate about their job and committed to Roice-Hurst, 93% believe in and put effort toward our mission, values and goals, 88% feel valued in their work, and 90% feel supported to advance their career and personally develop.

What was the state of your health and safety program before partnering with Health Links?

Before partnering with Health Links™, our program was very nascent and focused on the most basic building blocks of health and safety, such as reviewing and improving PTO policies, offering an EAP, and incorporating health and wellness topics into regular staff meeting agendas. We did not have a formal structure or champions within the team, as it was primarily led by our director as part of a general organizational restructuring, nor did we have or collect data related to health and wellness.

What has been the most valuable part of your journey with Health Links?

Conducting the assessment in conjunction with an advising session has been most helpful to us. The assessment helps us encapsulate all the things that we are doing for our team. The advising session is a confidence boost in our wellness programming. Through them, we noticed that programs we've offered for years often become blind spots for us until David points out how much further ahead we are than what we’ve credited ourselves for. The advising sessions also help us look at how we continue moving the needle for our team by encouraging us to establish goals and action steps for accomplishing them based on the improvement areas identified in our assessments.

Roice-Hurst won the Health Links 2021 Integration Award and the 2022 Continued Excellence Award. What do these recognitions mean to your organization?

Both awards show that we dedicate lots of effort and resources to our team. The recognition is great to share with our community, particularly with our long-term supporters who have witnessed how much we’ve grown in the 60 years that Roice-Hurst has served our valley. We’ve also noticed the power of these awards when we are recruiting staff and volunteers. As our country has experienced this “great resignation," many workers have pointed out that money is not the only factor when job searching. Our work has always been purposeful, which has always given us a leg up in finding passionate, caring people to be a part of our team, but these awards are symbols of our commitment to building a resilient team and to caring for them as much as they care for the animals that come through our doors. We have an incredible, talented and committed team and we credit this to the very things that led us to be chosen for these awards.

What advice would you give to a business looking to create a healthier, safer, and happier environment for its employees?

  • Enroll in a Health Links membership if you haven’t already. These tools have helped us properly assess what we do for our team and how we can continue to offer resources that align with our budget and team needs.
  • Leaders must listen to what their employees are really asking for. This doesn’t just apply to when you assess your benefits package: wellness must emanate from the core of an organization's culture.
  • When planning a retreat or outing, it doesn’t hurt to bring out everyone’s inner child. We look for things that are fun and family-friendly.
  • We have a lot more engagement when it isn’t just the wellness committee planning events. We want everyone at any level to have input on what they think would be meaningful to do as a team.
  • Use your community to your advantage. It’s amazing to see what other organizations will do for you if you just ask, and often symbiotic relationships are born of that. We live in a gorgeous valley where there are tons of outdoor things to do and ways to appreciate nature. Getting out in nature, even just for a meeting, can be a mood booster.