Building a culture of health and well-being
Welcome to our exclusive Q&A session with Dr. Brent Pawlecki, Wells Fargo’s Chief Health Officer. In an era where employee well-being has become an essential focal point for organizations, Dr. Brent’s insights have proven invaluable to countless individuals and organizations alike. As custodian of the holistic well-being of employees, his rich experience is building a brighter future, where organizations value the well-being of their most valuable asset—their people.
Our conversation with Dr. Brent dives into the heart of employee well-being and unravels the secrets to achieving a harmonious and thriving work environment. Get ready for a captivating conversation that will leave you inspired and motivated to prioritize your well-being and those around you.
An excerpt of our conversation
How does employee well-being contribute to overall success and productivity within Wells Fargo?
Our goal is to have a healthy, engaged, and productive workforce. By focusing on people's health, we're going to be able to allow them to be their best when they come to work and minimize some of the challenges they face. Certainly, we will impact absenteeism. We will also impact presentism which is a term that a lot of people don't yet know, but it's being at work and struggling to concentrate because “my back hurts, and I just can't think of anything but my back and I'm not as productive as I could be”. Or “I'm trying to get pregnant and having difficulty with that.” These are all distractions for people, but they are also important life events that need to be addressed. What we want to do is to try to move people towards resolution as soon as possible and then get them back to the workforce and to their unique, productive self.
What are some ongoing initiatives at Wells Fargo to help employees with common life situations?
When I think about health and well-being, I don’t just think about their health plan, and going to the doctor. I think about it in five different components: physical, emotional, financial, social health, and personal or purpose. A huge stressor for a lot of folks is finances. We have some tools available to help them to address their finances and make sure that they can get financial security in their time. In addition, there is social health, and we want to make certain that people have developed relationships and are fostering those because they're so incredibly important. We are social beings and it's important for us to nurture those relationships. Finally, the personal or the purpose. What motivates us? Why do we get up every day? Because those are the things that help to get us going somewhere. For some people that may be something spiritual. For others, it's their kids and they want to make sure that everything is good for them. Others have a life passion— whether it's a sport or a hobby. What motivates you and keeps you excited?
What are some common health issues and long-term consequences that can arise if employees neglect their well-being?
I like to focus on hypertension. Everyone should be able to have a normal blood pressure — either through medication or lifestyle measures or both. In focusing on hypertension, we can help people get that under control. Controlling blood pressure is going to prevent strokes and heart attacks and dementia and kidney disease — all types of health complications down the road — but what it’s also going to do is help us address, prevent, and focus on preventing diabetes. It’s also going to help reduce weight.
We only get at maximum one hundred years and for most of us, it will be less than that. So, what do we want to do with that time? We only get one journey and so how do we want to make the most of it over time? What would be best is to push off any long-term complications from illness to the very end of life so we’re not suffering with these illnesses our whole lives.
What are some effective strategies or initiatives that Wells Fargo has implemented to support employees in living a Well Life?
We have excellent health benefits to address diabetes, heart disease, and we have a strong mental health program where we offer counseling sessions for employees and their families.
We're actively looking at ways to support individuals who are considering starting or adding to their family and having a challenging time with their family planning. We have resources in place to help them achieve their hopes and goals for pregnancy. We want to help people understand all the benefits that they have.
How is Wells Fargo addressing prevention?
We have a specific well-being calendar each year that focuses on the various aspects of health and encourages employees to address prevention and the care that they need as time goes on.
I also publish a weekly health blog, where I talk about health conditions that might have impacted me or someone I know. I provide additional resources to give readers ideas of what they can do to address these health conditions if they come their way. These are all ways of helping individuals know more about their benefits and other resources at Wells Fargo to support their well-being.
Share some examples where prioritizing employee well-being resulted in positive outcomes for employees and Wells Fargo.
One of the most important things that Wells Fargo offers is health and wellness dollars.* People have incentive to develop behaviors—like going to their primary care physician, treating hypertension, participating in programs for diabetes, or doing preventive screenings. Employees who are participating have a positive return on investment. They can earn up to $800 and their covered spouse or domestic partner can earn up to $400 ($1,200 total) in a year in health and wellness dollars for completing certain activities.
It's good for a person's overall health and well-being because there's nothing worse than not feeling good. You take it for granted when you're feeling well but when you're not feeling well it's all you can think about. What we're trying to do is minimize the time when someone's having health problems. Again, the goal is to push off long-term health issues to the very end of life so people can fully enjoy their working years and retirement.
How do you prioritize your health and well-being?
I try to be active with my mind and be interested in life around me. I walk everywhere. That doesn’t mean I go to the gym all the time, but it means I'm physically doing things, trying to hit my 10,000 steps. I'm curious, so I have three goals every week. I try to explore—I live in New York City, so I go to a new restaurant once a week. It doesn't have to be expensive. I just go to a new place I've never been. I attend a cultural event, which could be going to a sporting event, a parade, the theater. I visit an area around town or a beach or something that's nearby. I try to do something I've never done. I write them down every week to help me be creative and keep my mind and interest going. I also spend time disconnecting from mobile devices and connecting with those around me. So, when I’m with someone, I’m fully present.
*Applies to U.S.-based employees only.
About Dr. Brent Pawlecki, our resident health expert
Dr. Brent Pawlecki joined Wells Fargo in 2021 as the Chief Health Officer. In this role, he advises on the design of the benefit plans, oversees the on‑site /near‑site clinic strategy in the U.S, and promotes employee population health and well‑being strategies globally. Dr. Brent also participates on the Enterprise Incident Management Team and other public health efforts and provides general medical expertise to company leadership to promote a healthy, engaged, and high‑performing workforce.