APA Center for Organizational Excellence: Best Practice Honoree

The Awards

Developing a Healthy Culture

Wisconsin — Most companies offer opportunities for employees to develop their job skills. At Highsmith, a distributor of library and school products, employee development efforts go a step further to include a strong emphasis on health and well-being.

Highsmith’s comprehensive employee development program begins during orientation. New employees attend a training that focuses on mental health, stress management and coping with relationship and drug and alcohol issues. New hires also meet with a learning and development manager to discuss personal well-being and learn about resources available through the company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Highsmith offers additional onsite trainings related to physical and mental health and provides other resources through the company’s intranet. Highsmith also recognizes that mental health is an important part of its employees’ overall health and strives to eliminate the stigma often associated with mental health issues. An annual on-site health screening for employees and spouses includes a one-on-one meeting with an EAP counselor to discuss their emotional well-being. To help employees manage the multiple demands they face outside of work, Highsmith also offers a variety of work-life benefits, including flexible work schedules and access to financial, legal, elder care and dependent care services.

Highsmith’s investment in employee health and well-being has enabled the company to maintain rich healthcare benefits without shifting costs to employees. While healthcare costs in the U.S. skyrocketed, Highsmith maintained a low 5.4 percent increase in health insurance costs from 2002 to 2005. Additionally, the company reaps the benefits of low employee turnover and an average employee tenure of 14 years. By providing resources and support to help employees lead healthy, balanced and productive lives, Highsmith has created a positive work environment that benefits employees and the organization.

"Winning this award has validated the hard work all our staff put into their work every day. In an industry that has high staff burnout and turnover and is usually in the press for failing, Green Chimneys strives to change that paradigm. We celebrate our successes and learn from our failures."

Joseph A. Whalen
Executive Director
Green Chimneys