Health Links [HL]: What does being a healthy workplace mean to your organization?
Vail Valley Partnership [VVP]: At Vail Valley Partnership, being a healthy workplace means that our employees feel like they have balance in their lives. We work hard to ensure that each employee understands their personal life is important. Of course work is important too, but there’s nothing wrong with stepping away from work to volunteer at your child’s school, take a workout class, or pursue something you’re passionate about. In fact, we encourage it!
[HL]: How does your organization create a culture of health, safety, and well-being for employees?
[VVP]: Creating a healthy workplace culture comes from the top, leaders at VVP “walk-the-talk”. Workplace health, safety, and well-being catches on with VVP staff when leaders participate and demonstrate support. We consistently remind individuals to take care of themselves, it can be easy to forget about yourself during stressful times (we all have them!).
VVP follows a policy called ROWE (Results Oriented Work Environment). ROWE gives structure to flexibility. That may sound like an oxymoron, but setting expectations is extremely important to make our flexible workplace successful. VVP team members are expected to spend 20 hours per week in the office and can work the other 20 hours at any time and location they choose. The team is expected to be responsive and meet all deadlines and established quarterly goals. Employees sign up for “office hours” so it’s easy to tell when someone is available for in-person meetings. And when they’re not in the office, employees are expected to keep their calendars up to date, so the rest of the team knows when and where they’re working. The system helps everyone stay accountable and respectful of each other’s time.
In 2019, VVP implemented a policy to reward team members to “unplug” from work. We encourage everyone to take 2 weeks off each year with no access to email or voicemail. This can be one two-week vacation or two one-week vacations. As a reward for unplugging, VVP provides a small cash bonus. VVP also offers a 4-week sabbatical after being employed for 7 years.
These benefits reinforce that work will always be there; the opportunities, milestones, and memories in your personal life may not, so it’s important to make them a priority!
[HL]: What changes have you seen among your employees, their families, or the surrounding community as a result of your program(s)?
VVP has very low staff turnover as a result of our benefits and flexible workplace policies. Other employers in our community are taking note, so we frequently share our policies and procedures with other organizations. It’s great for us to know that we are sparking conversations about employee health, safety, and well-being.
The office environment at VVP has changed dramatically since implementing flexible work arrangements. It’s a place where all VVP team members genuinely want to be! The team is happy and relaxed, so it’s not uncommon for staff to spend more than the required 20 hours a week in the office. VVP employees encourage one another to take breaks when needed.
We feel a great amount of pride in VVP and our supportive workplace policies. It’s humbling to share details of our work environment and witness others’ reactions, and it’s rewarding to feel like we can take the time to truly be present with family, friends and in our community.
[HL]: How has Health Links helped your organization?
[VVP]: Health Links has helped us pinpoint ways to really solidify our commitment to workplace health, safety, and well-being. Under the guidance of our advisor, we’ve updated several workplace policies with a focus on Total Worker Health®. Seeing sample policies and hearing how other organizations are working to achieve Total Worker Health are great resources and examples of how other employers are tackling some of these key issues. It’s great to have access to an organization like Health Links that has their finger on the pulse of supportive work environments!
[HL]: What tips or pieces of advice would you give to a business looking to create a healthier, safer, and happier environment?
[VVP]: The first question to consider is, “how far can you go”? When you really dig into the cost of hiring, training & retaining employees, you might be surprised at how much it pays to invest in the staff you have.
Get creative - it’s not always about money, sometimes flexibility is even more rewarding for your staff. Talk to your team and ask them questions. What are the biggest causes of stress? What benefits do team members want? Your team is your best source of information and new ideas.