For the health of it: Hilltop offering worksite wellness services

Mike Stahl
Mike Stahl

Phil Castle, The Business Times

      Mike Stahl recites a lengthy list of the intangible benefits of efforts to promote the health and wellness of the nearly 650 employees who work at Hilltop Community Resources based in Grand Junction.

To name a few, there’s improved teamwork, increased productivity and a more pronounced willingness to achieve the goals of the organization. “They’re working more for our mission than a paycheck,” says Stahl, chief executive officer of Hilltop.

But then there’s the very tangible benefits of fostering a culture of worksite wellness, among them reduced health care costs and workers’ compensation insurance premiums. “Those are both specific benefits to our bottom line,” Stahl says.

Other businesses can enjoy the benefits of the same kinds of award-winning programs, Stahl says, and Hilltop can help in offering customized worksite wellness services. “I don’t think a lot of businesses have to recreate the wheel.”

Hilltop earned national recognition for its efforts to promote a healthy and productive workplace as one of only five employers to win the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award from the American Psychological Association. Hilltop earned the same award from the Colorado Psychological Association.

Moreover, Hilltop was the winner of the inaugural Governor’s Award for Worksite Welless presented at the Colorado Culture of Health Conference in Denver.

The APA awards recognize companies and organizations that implement programs and policies that foster employee health and well-being while also enhancing performance. Hilltop won awards following on a series of applications, the results of an anonymous employee survey and site visit. Hilltop was praised for its employee-run health and safety committees, growth and development programs and policies that promote balance between work and life.

Hilltop was selected from among five finalists for the Governor’s Award for Worksite Wellness. Eligibility for the award was based on completing the Healthy Business Certification through Health Links Colorado. Hilltop was certified at the highest level based on such criteria was assessments of employee needs, communications to promote health and safety, incentives to encourage engagement, leadership support and worksite wellness activities.

Stahl says the awards validate efforts to promote a culture of health and wellness. “We have a very special culture at Hilltop.”

Those efforts correspond with what Stahl says are two important values for the organization: putting people first and building relationships. That goes for the more than 20,000 clients who receive the variety of services Hilltop offers in Mesa County and three other neighboring Western Slope counties. But it also goes for the nearly 650 employees who deliver those services. It’s important, he says, to care for caregivers. “Their well-being directly translates to the programs we’re able to plan and the types of services we provide.”

Hilltop offers health care coverage that allows employees to make choices, but also provides education and incentives to help them become informed consumers, Stahl says.

Rebecca Weitzel, who has worked as wellness coordinator at Hilltop for five years, says the wellness program includes annual employee health screenings; ongoing educational presentations on physical, emotional and even financial topics; and group challenges that range from everything to eating healthier foods to participating in athletic events to simply walking more.

The goal, Weitzel says, is to slowly change behaviors that promote better health and in turn increased productivity and reduced costs. At the same time, the goal also is to confirm to employees the organization cares about their well-being, which helps to engage them in their work.

Weitzel attributed the success of the program to a number of factors, among them the support of management and the role of employees in deciding for themselves how the program should work.

Stahl concedes Hilltop is a large organization with a wellness coordinator and human resources department, things many small businesses don’t have. But it doesn’t necessarily take a large staff or investment to promote worksite wellness, he says. “Culture really doesn’t have to cost money.”

Hilltop can help, he says, in providing customized worksite wellness services to businesses. Hilltop has launched a pilot program in managing worksite wellness programs for a clinical services organization and construction contractor. Stahl hopes to expand the program to offer customized services to other businesses. “What we have going on is working extremely well for us. They can get the benefit of what we’re doing.”

For more information about available worksite wellness services from Hilltop Community Resources, contact Rebecca Weitzel by e-mail at rebeccaw@htop.org.