TAMIU Employee Wellness Program Rated ‘Thriving’ by Review
Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) on-campus wellness program, “HealthyU,” has earned an enviable “Thriving” progress rating after a recent healthy worksite assessment. Part of the Chancellor’s Wellness Initiative, 12 campuses and five agencies were assessed, each with their own unique program, brand, and culture needs.
TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz said the University is committed to impacting its employees’ physical, mental and social well-being.
“In collaboration with our governing Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), we first committed to the Chancellor’s Wellness Initiative with a wellness program integrated with our Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) health plan in 2014, receiving helpful A&M System grants to do so. We believe we have an obligation to contribute to our employees’ well-being, their engagement, and their performance capacity. Our employees enjoy HealthyU and we know their optimal health also helps us realize positive financial and operational benefits,” Dr. Arenaz said.
The University’s comparative assessment, conducted by TAMUS wellness coordinator Kelley Melcher, resulted in a total “WellScore” of 95%, considered to be “Thriving.”
The assessment measured organizational foundations, lifestyle management and medical care management, comparing them to a previous assessment conducted in 2016. It also offered strategic recommendations and priorities for action moving forward.
Ellen Gerescher, director of TAMUS System Benefits Administration, noted some of the TAMIU program’s distinctions.
“At the System level, we are so pleased by what our campuses and agencies have been able to accomplish with our funding and their ongoing and creative initiatives. TAMIU is one of the shining examples, especially with their digital footprint. It was one of the first campuses to brand their wellness program and promote it through Facebook and webpages, really increasing program interest.
“In addition, getting buy-in from the top down, from campus leadership, really goes a long way in creating partnership and goodwill… and encourages employees to give available programs a second look. All of these impact the bottom line when it comes to not only our employees’ health, but our claims costs, which eventually positively impact the premiums that employees pay for their health coverage,” Gerescher observed.
Melcher said the University’s performance on the assessment and the leadership shown by Kristina Valenciano, TAMIU event services manager and wellness champion, was impressive.
“We’re very pleased with the University’s progress and Kristina’s dedication to moving the University forward. Our goal is a healthy worksite that has a vibrant health culture focused on optimizing the health and vitality of its workforce. Doing so takes time and effort and TAMIU is doing just that,” Melcher explained.
Valenciano said that she credits the HealthyU program’s success to a number of factors.
“We have great support and funding assistance from our A&M System, we have a broad-based TAMIU Wellness Committee that helps us to build a program of interest and relevance to our employees… and we have great employees that enjoy an opportunity to better their health and wellness,” Valenciano explained.
Among some HealthyU offerings are walking challenges, noon-time health lectures and demonstrations, on-campus health screenings, special healthy competitions and challenges, dinner and recipe presentations, yoga classes, on-campus gym utilization and discounts, and more.
Through a dedicated smartphone and desktop App, employees can easily track their progress and accrue redeemable points.
Melcher said the Wellness Initiative’s digital initiatives are popular and help employees maintain their health focus.
“BCBSTX continues to develop top-quality partnerships with digital vendors and programs that help each employee meet their healthcare needs, enhance current program offerings, and assist them in becoming better consumers of their healthcare,” she explained.
TAMIU president Arenaz noted that research shows the University’s investment in its employees’ health is wise.
“Research continues to show a direct correlation between employee health and wellness programs and lowered healthcare costs, reduced absenteeism, higher employee productivity, reduced workers’ compensation and disability-related costs, reduced injuries and improved employee loyalty, morale and sense of well-being. It can also serve as an attraction for employee recruitment,” Arenaz said.
“In this, our 50th Anniversary year, we continue to track our multiple impacts. I know that by nurturing a healthy worksite, we are powerfully impacting our employees, empowering them to better their health. When we do so, we better their lives and their service to the University. After all, it’s their service that delivers our transformative mission every day in every way,” Arenaz noted.
Melcher said with the positive results TAMIU and others have attained, the A&M System has already outlined its plan for the next three years.
“When we began the Chancellor’s Wellness Initiative, the goal was to build each program individually and to obtain a thriving health and wellness worksite culture at each location. In the next three years, the goal is to attain sustainability, to keep each program new and fresh, and to continue to offer programs that are holistic in nature so that the programs will meet the needs of each employee’s wellness journey,” she concluded.
For additional information on the University’s wellness initiatives, contact the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, email email@example.com, click on tamiu.edu, or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.
Throughout 2019-2020, TAMIU is celebrating its 50th anniversary and its 25th anniversary at its north Laredo campus. A dedicated website shares the University’s transformation from a hybrid upper-level university to a full doctoral degree-granting University. It traces the University’s history, shares its impact in personal stories, and includes a calendar of Anniversary events and more at tamiu.edu/50.