American Express Ways for Wellness
It’s a new year with new beginnings, the Medical Tourism AssociationTM (MTA) has made the resolution to exceed the expectations of attendees for this year’s World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress . After taking all feedback from the 2011 Congress in to consideration; there is a solid plan in place to surpass anything that has been done before. In the name of new beginnings, the MTA is pleased to announce the first speaker for 2012.
With 12 years of experience, Breckon Jones serves as Director of Health & Benefits, in American Express’ Global Compensation and Benefits team, with responsibility for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Jones’ initiatives in this field have led him to several speaking opportunities and to the title of the only benefits professional to have won the European Employee Benefits: Most Effective Healthcare & Well Beings Strategy, two years in a row for two different employers.
As the idea of corporate wellness is more and more becoming part of businesses today, different approaches and strategies are being developed in search of finding the best way to keep employees healthy in order to extend and enhance their working abilities to better suit the needs of the business and wellbeing overall.
Jones has led the EMEA Health & Wellness Benefits team at American Express to launch the Flexible Benefits platform, called Flexexpress. Jones explains that this provides a ‘dashboard’ where UK employees can make changes to their benefits and customize their reward package that best suits the needs of them and their families.
It also makes employees aware of other health and wellness programs and hosts a Knowledge Center where employees can view video explanations of each benefit.
“Our goals are to raise employee awareness of their benefits entitlements and to increase appreciation of those benefits,” Jones said.
Since launching the program in 2010, American Express has already reaped some of the benefits.
“We know that giving our people choice, leads to greater employee engagement and in turn increases performance. Employee feedback surveys show an increase in engagement and favorability of the system as a result of introducing the flexibility to customize their total reward package,” explained Jones.
Additionally, the tax savings from this have been reinvested to fund the ongoing costs of this program and other wellness programs in the UK, with additional savings return being made to the business.
The Flexible Benefits platform combined with the health assessments and wellness coaching initiatives launched in 2011 have created an integrated model for wellness; allowing UK employees to have faster and better access to healthcare and it motivates them to improve or sustain good health practices.
Since 2009, American Express has launched their global wellness program, Healthy Living in several countries. The company’s Nordic markets (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland) launched a wellness program with the support of the EMEA Health & Benefits team.
The leaders of the Nordic team provided investment and endorsement for this initiative, and 85 percent of employees participated in the launch activities. There are further plans to introduce the wellness programs to employees in Italy and other European markets.
While the trend is catching on and being implemented, higher forms of recognition for these specific initiatives have been given to the EMEA Health & Benefits team. They were recognized for five industry awards in Europe, including finalist placing in the following:
- HR Excellence Health & Wellbeing Award
- CIPD People Management Awards: Health & Wellbeing
- Active Sussex: Healthiest Workplace of the Year
They did however claim the prize for the following awards:
- The 2011 Employee Benefits: Most Effective Healthcare & Wellbeing Strategy
- National Business Group on Health: Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyle 2011 Gold Award
In addition to the wellness programs, in 2010 and 2011, Jones was awarded two innovation grants to pilot an eco-gym – exercise bikes that capture human kinetic energy from cycling, convert to electricity that is stored in batteries that are then used to power electrical devices such as a cell phone charger.
A BeeGreen Space is another initiative he launched in the name of wellness. BeeGreen is a roof top garden where employees plant, tend and harvest fruit and vegetables, there is also a bee hive that employees are in charge of.
“These innovations are ways of injecting vitality and creativity into our Health and Benefits programs around the world. The eco-gym encourages physical activity and increases awareness of environmental and sustainability issues,” said Jones.
“The BeeGreen space is an employee-led initiative that facilitates team cohesion, relaxation and a place in which employees can connect with nature,” he added.