Maintaining health, wellness and well-being connections

Washington University moves holistic employee benefits online

Washington University in St. Louis is engaged in a two-pronged strategy to help flatten the curve during the COVID-19 outbreak. While School of Medicine faculty members work to treat patients and uncover clues about the novel coronavirus, Danforth Campus students, faculty and staff are staying at home and off-campus.

Using Zoom and other online platforms, employees and students keep in touch, keep teaching and learning and keep university business pushing ahead. But it’s also important to feel connected to our community and to practice self-care during this uncertain time.

“Our employees are accomplishing incredible work, serving on the front lines of health care, adapting to remote learning and finding ways to carry out our missions virtually and under incredible pressures,” said Legail P. Chandler, vice chancellor for human resources. “The well-being of our employees and their families is always a top priority for us, but especially so during this unprecedented time in our collective history.”

That’s why the university’s human resources team moved quickly to adapt programming and migrate many of its offerings to an online format, easily accessible in a single well-being web portal while the university’s COVID-19 policies remain in place.

In addition to important health coverage and benefits and financial well-being resources, there are also links to a host of programs designed to boost the mind, body and spirit. These include wellness and mindfulness programming, mental health resources, online learning opportunities and a special “Care and Connection” kit, allowing employees to send messages of hope and gratitude to colleagues.

HR’s Learning & Development team has developed an array of online learning programs to help employees align their professional development activities with their remote work strategy, current position and career goals. A series of online Zoom courses will start on April 9, covering topics such as managing stress and adapting to change.

Popular wellness offerings such as the mindfulness sessions and dietician consultations also shifted online so employees can access them from their homes.

The 8ight Ways to Wellness Activity Challenge has re-opened individual registration for the spring session. And the Office of Recreation also is offering BearFit classes — workout sessions and fitness consultations — all online and free.

All of these programs are part of a holistic, integrated employee experience focused on the overall well-being of people.

“We need to meet people where they are,” said Amanda Pope, director of human resource communications and employee engagement. “As always, we really wanted to think about what we can do to take care of people, from the frontline employees to the greater community. We want people to feel connected, tethered to the university, and know that they are not alone in this.”

To address further COVID-19 concerns, HR worked to enhance the university’s child care back-up program for benefits-eligible employees and developed reassignment policies for staff to assist other areas of the university that need more help.

“Now, more than ever, we are here to support people,” Chandler said. “As circumstances continue to evolve, we are focused on helping employees thrive through the challenges.”

Find employee well-being support here.


WashU Response to COVID-19
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