Resources / Bringing Wellness into the Workplace: A CEO’s Perspective
Bringing wellness into the workplace
Amanda Eisel

By Amanda Eisel

Amanda Eisel has focused the last 20 years of her career at the intersection of healthcare and technology. She has been deeply involved creating and scaling multiple growth technology companies including Waystar, Applied Systems and Viewpoint. Amanda has been a member of the Zelis team since 2019, playing a leadership role across Zelis’ growth, operational and talent strategies. Amanda started her career at McKinsey & Company, where she spent nearly a decade advising consumer companies. Prior to Zelis, Amanda was an Operating Partner at Bain Capital focused on technology and healthcare IT companies.


A few months ago, I wrote about the first installment of The Payment Harmonization Index, a study we commissioned to survey healthcare payers to understand how their actions enable, or detract from, systemic harmony. (Sidebar, the payments deep dive report is now available here). 

As someone professionally entrenched in transforming the business of healthcare, I can empathize with the fact that our system is not as harmonious as it could be. However, there is a broader issue in our society today that doesn’t boil down to fixing our approach to healthcare alone. Rather, to alleviate high levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout nationwide, we must look at the ways we support the well-being of people not just in a healthcare setting, but throughout all aspects of their lives.

Put more simply: if nothing else, companies need to care about the health and wellness of the people who comprise them. 

I share this overview of our evolving approach today because not only am I proud of the work we’re doing in this area, but I also consider this a call to action and perhaps a guide for peer organizations who are considering how to approach this vital work. 

The pandemic has shown us that we as corporate leaders need to be more invested in our people than ever, and in 2022, Zelis has made huge strides in this arena.

Wellness: the ultimate differentiator 

At Zelis, our very purpose is to make healthcare more affordable and transparent – with a careful, methodical approach to removing points of friction in the system. 

We’re on a mission to transform the way our country pays for care and it’s only fitting that we start by taking into consideration the health of our associates and their families. 

We believe in safeguarding all aspects of our wellness, and we look at this as 6 pillars that make up a holistic program integral to the way we work—spanning Career Development, Community Involvement, Emotional and Financial Support, Physical Health, and Sustainability for the future.

We call this program ZelisCares – because we really do.

Here are some of the initiatives we’ve introduced to our company over the last year as we look towards future chapters of growth at Zelis. 

(Spoiler alert… there is more goodness coming!)

Career 

Those who know me, know I love asking questions. Questioning ourselves and the status quo helps make progress, and I try to be intentional about the questions I pose. The one I find myself coming back to personally is, “how can I support the people that show up for Zelis every day?” 

We want our associates — whom we fondly call Zelots for their passionate energy in transforming healthcare — to feel engaged in their work in a meaningful way, to make a difference, and to have opportunities to grow their careers with us. So, as part of this pillar we’ve launched My Zelis Career, an intranet hub to inspire associates, provide tools to spark conversations, and guide the selection of developmental opportunities. ​As part of My Zelis Career, associates can access our education assistance program, complementary LinkedIn Learning and other experience offerings, quarterly IMPACT awards for work well done, and through Yammer, our interactive recognition boards like Cheers to Peers – where we certainly have a lot to cheer about.

We want associates to have long, fulfilling, and productive careers at Zelis and to be set up for success at other organizations should they depart. That’s how we have grounded our career philosophy in implementing a total career & compensation framework that enables us to effectively attract, retain, and motivate outstanding talent.​

Community 

The people that surround us — our communities — contribute to overall health and well-being even more than we may know.

We believe in bringing our authentic selves to work – amplifying diverse backgrounds and perspectives to create a culture of inclusion and belonging​. We do this through our Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Council and our Business Resource Groups (BRGs) – self-organized and executive-supported Business Resource Groups, like Black Professionals of Zelis, ZelisPride, Veterans at Zelis, Women of Zelis, and our newest, Asian Network of Zelis, lead by peers, supported by executives, and open to all. 

Recently, we held an internal session where 115 participants from these BRGs ideated over 100 ideas to solve for burnout. As a result of this session, we were able to take real action by making changes to the way we work, like “Meeting Free Wednesday Afternoons”. 

More on this later, but through these BRGs – we’ve participated in volunteering and charitable giving with several non-profit organizations doing good work in our local communities.

Emotional 

In today’s world, focusing on our associates’ emotional health is no longer a ”nice to have”, but a “must have” in our wellness strategy.

We’ve implemented #ZelisCares Fridays (pencils down at 3 PM every Friday), introduced complimentary Teladoc mental health support, as well as mindfulness training and support platforms. 

We also run monthly campaigns to minimize stress, offering daily inspo messages to boost associates’ awareness of stressors. And just recently, we adopted a flexible time-off policy to ensure our associates are taking personal time away from work supported with our #ZendlessSummer campaign.

Financial 

Financial health is important for leading a happy and successful life. Creating a sound financial base does more than alleviate current stress – it lays the foundation for a stable and secure financial future.

We ensure associates feel comfortable with their finances by offering matched retirement programs, complementary legal services, financial education sessions with experts, and personalized counseling.

We’re also re-examining our compensation to be more comprehensive to support our high-performance culture and strike a balance between externally competitive and internally fair​, looking at this both in terms of base pay and short and long-term incentives. 

Physical 

Our physical wellbeing has a direct correlation with conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as on our stress tolerance and cognitive agility.

We’ve invested in comprehensive healthcare plans, 24/7 access to Teladoc Telehealth, wellness app GoPivot, a ‘healthy habits’ Yammer community, and team fitness challenges to make physical health a priority. We now sponsor short-term disability for all associates and paid leave for birthing parents.

Sustainable 

The benefits of volunteering are huge – improved physical and mental health, a sense of purpose, and deeper self-confidence. 

Just by spending time in service to others, many people report feeling a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect.

To better actualize these benefits for our associates, Zelis offers Paid Volunteer Time Off and a charitable giving program. We develop and lead volunteer events throughout the year in our communities, and we match our associates’ donations to charities that matter to them, in addition to giving to organizations that are meaningful to Zelis’ mission more broadly.

Looking ahead

Forrester industry analyst John Roberts says, “in the past, when it came to wellness, employers would ask, “Do we have to?” Today, they should be asking, “Can we afford not to?”

We’re the type of company who runs to problems, not away from them. So, we’re asking that question, but pushing even further – and asking, “Why not?”

The data proves that this is a good question to be asking. In just one year, our associate engagement has improved by 4 percentage points, above our technology company peers. As of May, 84% of our associates would recommend Zelis as a great place to work.

Our ability to both retain high-performing Zelots and attract qualified talent is integral to our success as a fast-growth company with big hairy audacious goals for healthcare. Associates are making good use of our wellness programs, but this is only the beginning for us. We’ll keep exploring ways to support our team best and drive meaningful change, not only throughout the healthcare industry, but also within corporations. 

Until next time, stay well!

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