By: Stephanie Schehr, Client Services Specialist


Kathy Wall, Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development


One of the many challenges employers face is making sure that their current and future employees feel appreciated and satisfied enough to remain at the organization. But what if you took this idea a step further? How could you ensure that your employees are not only satisfied enough to stay, but also consider your organization one of the best places to work? That is the mindset that Kathy Wall, Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Organizational Development, and the teams at Mary Washington Healthcare (MWHC) began shifting to earlier this year. As a healthcare system with two hospitals and 28 healthcare facilities and wellness services, they have tasked themselves with targeting a wide range of employees to cultivate this mindset.

Knowing the critical nature of the employees’ work, Kathy is very committed to helping make their days a bit easier. MWHC approaches employee wellbeing from a holistic perspective. “We want our employees to feel that we care about who they are as an associate, as a person, and even as a member of their own families.” With this thinking in mind, they developed several initiatives that encourage both employee personal and professional development.

One approach MWHC has taken is to focus on employee health and wellness. Early this year, MWHC began encouraging employees to become more responsible for their own health. Since many of the employees work shifts at all hours of the day, it can be difficult to fit in trips to the grocery store or plan healthy meals. To help employees with these tasks, MWHC has introduced an onsite weekly Farmer’s Market, which is held on two separate days and at two separate locations to reach a majority of their employees. At the Farmer’s Market, they often provide a recipe that features seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the hospital chef also often creates a dish that features the local produce in the cafeteria. MWHC also distributes a weekly wellness newsletter that promotes healthy living, provides tips and includes the schedule of upcoming wellness events. They also began hosting different fitness classes to encourage employee health, including Zumba and yoga, and are promoting awareness about ‘knowing your numbers’ when it comes to your health.

In addition to physical health and wellness, MWHC is also working to promote good financial health for their employees. This year, MWHC was able to implement the Dave Ramsey SmartDollar program, which is an optional online training program that teaches employees how to manage personal finances. Additionally, MWHC encouraged employee ownership over their own finances by eliminating the ‘auto-enroll’ option for employee retirement plans. Instead of automatically enrolling employees in a retirement plan, MWHC increased education about the benefits of enrollment at the beginning of the registration window and gave employees the choice to register. Even after making this switch, they have managed to maintain 80% employee participation in their retirement plan. MWHC has also provided educational trainings on life insurance, retirement seminars, and social security. In doing so, MWHC is showing that they care about employees’ financial wellbeing both now and in the future.


Mary Washington Hospital


Taking a holistic look at the employees, Kathy and the teams at MWHC have also began other programs that encourage professional development and emphasize employee recognition. While many of these initiatives are still too early to show results, employee attendance at their events is showing great promise. In focusing on employee health, MWHC anticipates a decline in the overall costs of employee health insurance as employees begin to better manage their health.

While it can be a daunting task to develop a program that appeals to all of your employees, don’t let that fear stop you. Start by thinking about your employees first and see what creative programs you can incorporate at your organization. In focusing on the total employee, you may also find that you are helping make your organization a ‘best place to work’ as well.


Need a resource to speak with to get started? Contact Kathleen Schulz to learn about Gallagher’s approach to engagement and how Gallagher may be able to help you and your organization design a program for your employee population. She can be reached at

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