All’s well that begins well
Wellness Coaches introduced at three MGM Resorts properties
Employees at New York New York, MGM Grand and The Mirage now have coaches they can turn to for tips and advice on how to improve or maintain their health.
In conjunction with Corporate Benefits, the three properties have partnered with Wellness Coaches USA, a leading provider of workplace wellness initiatives, to launch this pilot program at each of their resorts. The voluntary and confidential program includes access to highly trained Wellness Coaches available onsite full-time focused on engaging employees.
“We introduced Wellness Coaches at these three properties initially because of their long-standing commitment to the health, safety and productivity of employees,” said Director of Health Care Operations John Socha. “We found the model of having somebody onsite and proactive is more highly effective than being passive, especially in our fast-paced industry. By serving as pilot properties, they each have the opportunity to help pave the way for future health and wellness programs at sister properties.”
Coaches are available for one-on-one coaching sessions, either by appointments or on-demand, during regular office hours at each of the three participating resorts. They also host monthly Healthy Living events for employees and frequently attend pre-shift meetings. “Attending pre-shifts is an important way to meet employees,” said New York New York Wellness Coach Joe Gassler.
“The staff and employees have really taken me in, it feels like I’ve always been a part of the team,” said Mr. Gassler, a certified nutritionist and athletic trainer. “I’m proactive; I don’t just sit in my office all day. When I came onboard and saw the hours, I knew I had to be available to all employees and shifts. I want them to know I’m here.”
Mr. Gassler and his fellow Wellness Coaches are experienced and trained to support employee’s efforts to maintain or improve their lifestyles behaviors. They are available to all employees, regardless of health plan. Coaches are thoroughly trained on the benefits available through each health plan offered through the Company, so they can make program referrals specific to each health plan based upon individual needs.
“It’s a great benefit because the healthier our workforce is, the better off we all are,” said New York New York Director of Human Resources Dawn Pfefferle. “When you feel good, you exude that to both guests and coworkers. Healthy employees won’t miss work and will have less health problems so it can also reduce our overall health costs.”“In the end, it’s really a win-win for the employees and the Company,” she said.
The Wellness Coaches provide guidance on a wide variety of topics, such as nutrition, exercise, diet, weight loss and tobacco cessation. In addition, coaches can perform blood pressure checks and other biometric screenings such as height, weight and BMI, to help employees manage their numbers or keep track of their progress toward individual goals.
“Part of what’s unique about wellness is that it’s different for everyone because it depends on your own personal needs,” MGM Grand Director of Training Joyce Boissell said. “Part of the coach’s role is to help employees figure that out and then help them address it. The important thing is they don’t tell people what to do. You don’t walk into the office and they say you need to lose 10 pounds. It’s more like you walk in and tell them you want to lose 10 pounds, then they’ll help you reach that goal.”
While the Wellness Coaches can help employees in a wide variety of ways, they are not intended to replace doctor visits, explained Benefits Communications and Programs Supervisor Melissa Friedman McCulloch. “The overall model is for Wellness Coaches to interact with employees and develop the program into something distinctly unique to their property,” she said. “For employees with chronic conditions, they are there to help bridge the gap between employees and their doctors – not to replace them. Together, with the doctor, they can help employees reach their health goals.”
So far, employees do feel engaged. Just last month, New York New York handed out more than 300 pedometers during its “Step into Spring” walking competition; which the resort promoted in April. The top three employees logging the most steps will win gas cards. At MGM Grand, the coaches’ appointment calendars for the month of May are nearly booked, said Wellness Coach Vanessa Cruz, one of three coaches at the property.
“Employees have been really happy, especially because it’s open to everyone,” she said. “I also think what entices them is that we’re not there to tell them what to do, but to listen, provide support, and help plan a strategy that will work for them at their own pace. It boils down to an honest conversation. That’s why we’re committed to making ourselves accessible. We’re there for the employees.”