nextERA Voiceby Kyle Kridler, Economic Development Administrator for the City of Dublin, Ohio
In the Economic Development world, or better yet, the world, workforce is everything. I try to avoid using the “A” word when possible, but it is certainly the topic du jour for those who follow major attraction projects. Per a February 2018 article by Leanna Garfield of Business Insider:
“There's reason to believe that education will be a big factor in Amazon's decision. Amazon mentioned education three times as a "key preference and decision driver" in its request for bids. The company also asked cities to include a list of partnerships with higher-education institutions; a list of nearby universities offering computer science degrees; and the number of students graduating with those degrees over the last three years.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-hq2-top-cities-education-labor-2018-2)
In a recent Site Selection survey, workforce skills were the number one decision driver for businesses with workforce development and higher education also listed in the top 10 criteria.
Now, it seems like common sense that businesses rely primarily on their workforce in order to find sustainable success. By its very definition, an organization is “a social unit of people that is structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals (businessdictionary.com).” In other words, a company’s greatest asset is their employees.
Our economic development team has taken a strong focus on workforce development over the past two years using the Design Thinking model. We continuously ask ourselves, “What actionable steps can we take to further our goals and how can we continually add value to our businesses that they may not find in another community?” One of these initiatives is the City’s new Corporate Wellness program, FitBiz.
Our organization is blessed to have had a successful employee wellness program since 2009 called Healthy by Choice (HBC). In brief, Dublin employees that participate in our HBC program have certain criteria that must be met (health risk assessments, annual physicals, and educational classes) to receive the full contribution of our H.S.A. and the premium waiver. Aside from the insurance aspect, employees have access to the Dublin Community Recreation Center, employee small group classes and can earn points through participation to redeem items such as family pool passes and t-shirts. Informally, there have been groups created that play basketball, participate in local races and recreation leagues outside of work.
There has been endless debate on what the ROI is for employee wellness programs from purely a medical spend standpoint, but I think it is hard to deny the positive impact it has on an organization’s culture. An article from CIO.com offered the following:
“Traditional employer-sponsored wellness programs are often viewed as a way for businesses to reduce healthcare costs, but their true value may lie elsewhere; as incredibly effective ways to increase productivity, engagement and in their use as a recruiting, hiring and talent retention tool.” (https://www.cio.com/article/2893976/careers-staffing/why-wellness-programs-are-key-to-your-company-s-health.html).
FitBiz is Dublin’s approach to partnering with our local companies to strengthen (or help create) their internal employee wellness programs. As expressed in the program’s tagline, FitBiz is dedicated to promoting a “Healthy Workforce. Healthy Bottom Line.” We believe that by encouraging employee wellness programs, our local employers will only strengthen their ability to attract and retain the best talent.
In 2017, Economic Development partnered with our new Corporate & Community Wellness Administrator to begin piloting this corporate wellness initiative. For the first year of FitBiz, our goals were to develop a menu of wellness programs, pilot some programming with a group of test companies, create a needs and interest survey, begin branding and marketing the program, and explore partnerships with local stakeholders as it pertains to corporate wellness. By the end of 2017, we’d offered 26 total programs to three local companies, made substantial progress on our branding/marketing efforts, and created an avenue for continuous feedback from our customers. The onsite programming includes yoga, Zumba, wellness education, functional fitness, boot camp, and stretching breaks among many others. The feedback that we’ve received from companies that have participated has been overwhelmingly positive with the average score of 4.8 out of 5 on our sessions. Check out more about FitBiz here: http://www.econdev.dublinohiousa.gov/fitbiz/.
In 2018, we’ve evolved our goals to program with 15-20 companies, increase our brand awareness, create different pricing models, and continue to explore partnerships with local companies. We’ve also partnered with the Dublin Chamber and City Schools for the Dublin Corporate Challenge, which is entering its second year this summer. We’re exploring the potential of programming in parks near our businesses for lunchtime activities and after work gatherings.
2017 Dublin Corporate Challenge
From an economic development standpoint, we’re doing our part to create a vibrant culture for the business community that is appealing to the workforce of today and tomorrow. Our team continues to ask ourselves, “What is the Dublin difference?” We feel that this type of programming along with other initiatives we are involved in as a City contribute to the experience of our businesses and their employees. We’ll continue to evolve FitBiz and encourage our corporate community to invest in their workforce’s wellbeing.