Focusing on Employee Health and Wellness

Photo: Linda Cicero
Healthy employees are critical to sustaining a healthy company. According to a recent report from Towers Watson, companies with the most effective health and wellness programs benefit from both healthier employees and better financial outcomes.

At PG&E, we continue to enhance our focus on health and wellness—providing a suite of programs and services for our employees, while also empowering them to take responsibility for their own well-being by making healthier choices. This includes providing information and guidance to help employees take charge of their health, manage chronic conditions and adopt healthier behaviors at work and at home.

Taking a Strategic Approach

PG&E is taking a number of important steps to create a culture of health in the workplace.

For example, roughly two-thirds of our workforce is represented by a labor union. Last year, as part of a shared commitment to our employees and their families, the company and its unions formed a joint committee on health and wellness. Through the committee, we are sharing data and best practices about how to motivate people to make healthy choices and support a healthy work environment. The committee is also working to identify gaps with our current health, wellness and prevention programs, and work together to develop new strategies.

More broadly, we are using aggregated employee heath data and extensive benchmarking to better design programs for our workforce. This includes participating in groups such as the National Business Group on Health to identify best practices to consider for our business.

Offering Programs and Incentives that Work

Our efforts begin with preventative measures. For example, we held health screenings last year for more than 950 employees that were designed to identify potential health risks. We also offered a free flu shot program in which more than 4,300 employees participated—a 17 percent increase over the prior year.

Another major objective is increasing employee fitness. In 2010, we launched a new subsidy and discount program for gym memberships, lifestyle coaching and weight loss through GlobalFit to support the health and wellness of employees.

We also continue to engage in health and wellness events in the community. More than 1,200 employees participated in “Active for Life” in 2010, a 10-week physical fitness program offered in collaboration with the American Cancer Society that encourages employees to be more active on a regular basis. In addition, many PG&E employees engaged in community fundraiser walks and runs for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Heart Association and the AIDS Walk.

PG&E also offers a tobacco cessation program, “Smokeless,” free to employees and their families that includes one year of unlimited coaching from certified lifestyle coaches, nicotine replacement therapy with gum or the patch and a guided self-help book and CD. We also offer a Peer Volunteer Program that provides a confidential peer resource for employees and family members who have concerns about substance abuse.

Building Momentum at the Grassroots Level

We are helping to foster a strong grassroots passion for improving employee health and wellness. Last year, we formalized a group of Wellness Ambassadors across the company who meet regularly and are sharing information and inspiring colleagues to take action. Employees have organized weight loss and nutrition programs at local sites, including Weight Watchers and Healthy Weight challenges. These local wellness teams are complemented by wellness fairs and practical tips through newsletters, posters and guest speakers provided by PG&E.

Supporting Employees in Need

We continue to offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which consists of free and confidential counseling sessions, support, referrals and information to help employees and their family members. Counselors are conveniently located at 13 work locations throughout our service area and in the communities where employees live. The EAP hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by licensed clinicians. In addition to counseling, the EAP makes employees’ lives less stressful by offering free financial, legal and work-life guidance and referrals to child and elder care resources.

We also provide on-site ergonomic assistance for PG&E’s offices, call centers and payment centers. An online break and stretching reminder software program is also used extensively at PG&E.


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