Corporate Wellness Administrator, Hoffmaster Group Inc.
Years in the Field: 15 years
Organization size: 1200 employees
Courage Strength: Creative
realizes there may be risk, but there is reward in the risk when we look at the outcome of an employee who finds meaning and fulfillment in their work. As we persevere into an enriched value proposition, we must channel creative courage to unite wellbeing as a strategic priority across the entire employee experience. Learn more.
Some insight to Jenny's courageous story...
Describe how you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone in support of what was calling you to be courageous.
Success at Hoffmaster has gone so much slower than I feel comfortable with. To me, it's been courageous to go slow. Sometimes courage is about setting down our need to be right and successful and being in the seat of learner, listener, and slow grower. Our culture is adapting and that deserves respect and patience. I am most proud of my willingness to set down my definition of "traditional success" and embrace a slower, deeper unfolding of wellness at HGI. The hardest challenge at Hoffmaster was presenting my "new role." Sharing with my manager that my position wasn't created to be very effective and that we should consider literally creating an entirely different role was so tough! I was afraid I would get fired, or become obsolete--or worse, that the organization wouldn't even want a "culture of wellness" and would have told me to stay in my coaching lane. So many fears came up! But I trusted my gut, I trusted my training, I trusted I could guide and lead us and allowed myself to step forward without all the answers! Breaking up the status quo is never easy; it takes a lot of speaking up in an artful way to not just spark new ideas, but simultaneously not threaten old ones. To me it's felt courageous to walk that line. Many people think having courage is about being outrageous or becoming an outlier but I actually think we can create change in a more harmonious way. Walking the line of old and new is a dance that I feel inspired to keep leading! And lastly, courage has felt scrappy and creative. I've need to approach and re-approach conversations from many different angles using many different perspectives. Instead of clinging onto my own perspectives, I found the courage to embrace the feedback I was hearing and honor the needs of our leaders in order to find the "right" way to collaborate with the organization. It's less about me having an answer up front and more about exploring and discovering what our leaders, or org's and our employees needs are and then creatively finding a way to connect to those.
What impact did your actions have on your employees’ wellbeing and/or organizational culture?
I believe that by bringing up the simple point that we lacked direction and thoughtfulness in our wellness efforts I've challenged our wellness teams, leaders, and employees to consider wellness as more than health challenges and prizes. Broadening the definition of wellness will take a while here, but it's a journey I am committed to. I've brought a LOT more emotional wellbeing to the table by using my mental health background to give lunch and learns, manager trainings, and weekly resilience calls to our employees. This has allowed employees and leaders to see wellness as more than just health (which is actually a huge stride for our culture and something I'm committed to long-term). We are putting HGI on the map.
What impact did your actions have on you as a leader?
My mindset has grown tremendously. I've been fortunate to work in some very well-established wellness programs and had forgotten what it's like to truly build something from the ground up. A growth mindset has been critical to my feelings of success. I have compassion for our leaders, who are on their own journey when it comes to worksite wellness. My job is to be understanding of them, to listen, and to co-create our future rather than show up with all the answers! I have a renewed willingness to stand alone. There have been many times I've shared ideas and heard crickets, and that's okay. My comfort and confidence have grown and I take my work seriously, but not personally.
Through this experience, how does this change your focus for the future?
There's some wonderful science out there, and industry leaders are pushing the landscape of wellness wider--all necessary and valuable! And yet, our organization is on their own journey and deserves the compassion, understanding and patience to evolve in a direction that is best for them. We will get there together, but we can't have the spirit of collaboration if I try to have the "right" answers without listening and using intuition. As a leader of wellness, it's my job to nurture the spirit of collaboration, always. That begins by softening my own heart, paying attention and listening, and co-creating our next steps. Lastly, to be able to hold this creative container for our organization, my own well-being continues to be a priority. Only five years ago I collapsed! I hunted for medical answers for years and was completely debilitated, unable to work (with a massive amount of medical debt). I had gone through a tremendous amount of stress in a short period of time, and didn't realized that stress was the reason I had collapsed. I've learned to nurture my own wellbeing in new ways, but it's been a long, up-hill commitment to regaining my abilities. In the last two years at HGI I've been able to work 28 hours per week, I've taken up mountain biking, and I'm an avid meditator and journaling nerd. Wellness means something drastically different to all of us, based on what we are going through in life. We are supporting so much more than "health," in some cases we are gifting people their lives back!
About being a Champion with WCWI's 2020 Leaderboard...
What does this nomination and selection mean to you?
There are so many talented and passionate wellness practitioners and strategists in the state of Wisconsin! To be selected is such an honor! Five years ago I went through a devastating loss of my own wellbeing as I faced a health challenge. This challenge lasted a very long time and debilitated me to the point of not being able to work—my sense of wellbeing went out the window. To be working, to be moving, to be living the way I am today is really a miracle compared to where I was a few short years ago. I’m grateful to be able to show others a broader and more compassionate understanding of wellbeing, and invite others to discover what wellbeing really means to them. There is always an opportunity, through the hardest things, to listen to ourselves, become our own ally, and take care of our human needs. Receiving this honor has allowed me to own my whole story, not just the shiny parts—personally and professionally.
What is one long term goal you have for your organization’s employee wellbeing strategy?
My goal is to create a strong and contagious wellness brand at Hoffmaster. As much as I appreciate the importance of a good strategy, I love and live for the energy that gets put behind wellness. The fun part for me is calling our employees to greatness and inviting the into a powerful story! My hope is that in the next two years, we have a brand that is clear and felt all throughout our organization
How does your work contribute to transforming Wisconsin’s workforce?
I believe that one story has the power to inspire many. I believe our story serves as a reminder of being resourceful and creative—sometimes you don’t have all the resources in place, sometimes you don’t have the right people or money to put behind your wellness programs, but if you have a few people who care, you can begin creating. You can take one small, but gritty step at a time. There are a lot of shining wellness programs out there, but we want to be an example that things don’t have to be perfect for them to be meaningful! We simply want to inspire other businesses to take this seriously, if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that wellness isn’t just something “extra” like a perk. A sense of wellbeing is imperative and life is asking us all to re-evaluate how we live, play, and work in this new and evolving world.