Owning and Maximizing Total Wellness Programs

Town Hall Insights
Atlanta CHRO Community

Sharon Brand

Chief People Officer



Cathy Hardin


Gwinnett County Public Schools


Sue Collins


Tennessee Valley Authority


Alisa Fiser

SVP, Global People & Culture

The Coca-Cola Company


Sandy Gordon

VP, People Experience & Technology Global Transportation Operations



Erika Burk

Chief Human Resources Officer

Porsche Cars North America


Since 2020, a barrage of sociopolitical and financial stressors has incited a workforce wellbeing crisis – and, consequently, a steady decline in overall employee performance. In response, the world’s leading organizations are implementing employee wellness programs to address employees’ emotional, physical or financial needs and create a workplace culture where everyone can thrive.

According to a Gartner survey, “Incorporating wellness into work, in addition to encouraging employees to care for their wellness, reduces fatigue by up to 41%, and employees are 2.8 times more likely to achieve optimal performance.” However, where the problem lies is that most employees do not take advantage of these programs.

How can HR leaders maximize their total wellness programs to drive productivity? That is the question the Atlanta CHRO Community tackled at their most recent town hall.

The program was moderated by Sharon Brand, Chief People Officer at PlanSource. Community members Cathy Hardin, CHRO, Gwinnett County Public Schools; Sue Collins, EVP, CHRO and CAO, Tennessee Valley Authority; Alisa Fiser, SVP, Global People & Culture, The Coca-Cola Company; Sandy Gordon, VP, People Experience & Technology Global Transportation Operations, Amazon; and Erika Burk, Chief Human Resources Officer, Porsche Cars North America helped guide the conversations as discussion leaders.

Developing a Wellness Strategy

Sharon Brand, Chief People Officer at PlanSource kicked off the gathering by outlining some of the challenges surrounding employees’ emotional, physical and financial wellbeing, and she detailed scenarios CHROs should consider when developing their wellness strategies.

Sharon emphasized how CHROs must be aware of the nuances of the multigenerational workforce and that each generation has different needs and expectations from their employer. Concerning emotional wellbeing, younger generations are more open about their mental health. She cited how 55% of Gen Z workers say they have either been diagnosed with or treated for mental illness, and 60% of college students in the United States meet the criteria for at least one mental illness. CHROs should be preparing to support this next generation as they enter the workforce.

Regarding physical wellbeing, Sharon explained that CHROs should make a concerted effort to provide more preventative care benefits. Rising healthcare costs are putting a strain on both organizations and employees, and she has seen a correlation between employees who have poor physical health also showing signs of poor mental health.

In recent years, financial wellbeing has become a leading stressor for workers, and Sharon cited research from a Betterment at Work survey where 58% of workers report having financial anxiety and they also admit that it is directly impacting their productivity. 

Sharon explained that CHROs must have a well thought out plan to be able to address these issues, and she shared a few key components of PlanSource’s wellness strategy: 

  • Implement constant communication on multiple channels to ensure employees understand all of the offerings and act to utilize them (not just at open enrollment)
  • Leverage data and predictive analytics to drive preventative healthcare solutions
  • Measure success and make adjustments based on employee feedback

After this level-set, community members broke into small groups to share their challenges and lessons learned around their own wellness programs, focusing on how to effectively deploy programs and measure success and encourage employee adoption.

These are the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Look both inside and outside your organization for trusted wellness data:
    CHROs were in agreement they should be looking at a range of data sources to “up” their wellness strategy, and they stressed the importance of leveraging partnerships to get the data they need to establish metrics. Considerations included reviewing claims data to identify shifts and utilizing brokers and vendors for recommendations and comparisons to workers outside their organization. One CHRO noted that Ozempic was a hot topic within their discussion group, and this trend sparked them to think about behavioral changes around healthcare as they look to manage costs for the future. 
  • Customize wellness plans for a diverse workforce:
    To support a diverse workforce, participants said they need to customize both their offerings and their messaging for each group. One CHRO mentioned how they partner with employee resource groups (ERGs) to understand specific needs – namely social and emotional wellbeing support. They added that this led them to having a BIPOC mental wellness month, which garnered positive employee feedback.
  • Examples of wellness benefits:
    Each CHRO is on their own journey for adopting a comprehensive wellness plan for their business, and many shared their current offerings. Some examples included health coaches, concierge type services or creating mental health allies in the workforce. To aid financial wellness, one HR leader said they are using a vendor to give employees access to their wages sooner upon request. A CHRO from a manufacturing company shared how basic health and wellness support is essential to their business, and they provide virtual primary care physician (PCP) visits to make sure employees can receive wellness screenings, improving preventative care.

For those just beginning their total wellness journey, one discussion group outlined where they can start:

  • Reduced premiums upon participation or health rewards to promote engagement
  • Inclusive benefits tailored to meet the diverse needs of all employees
  • Consider encompassing elderly care, child care and pet care options
  • Collaborate with wellness centers to provide discounted offerings and opportunities for additional discounts

The Atlanta CHRO Community will be convening for another town hall in March 2024, and they will be hosting their annual Executive Summit in June 2024. 

Not in Atlanta? Evanta, a Gartner Company, has regional CHRO communities all over the world. To connect, share and learn with your CHRO peers, apply to join your local Evanta community today. If you are already a member, check out MyEvanta to view your upcoming programs and register for your next community gathering. 

by CHROs, for CHROs

Join the conversation with peers in your local CHRO community.