Harris Health ranks among the Top 100 Healthiest Workplaces in the U.S. by Healthiest Employers for its employee wellness program, ranked no. 3 in 2023 and no. in 2022. In Texas, Harris Health ranked no. 1 in the large employer category.

Harris Health is a public health care system providing primary care, specialty care and acute care to all residents of Harris County. The organization serves county residents, regardless of insurance status. Harris County voters recently passed a $2.5 billion bond, which will help the organization continue providing high-quality care to the community.

Harris Health Administrative Director of Wellness Michele Hunnicutt said Harris Health was recently inducted into the Healthiest Employers Hall of Fame in 2022 for its innovation, prioritizing employee health/well-being and achieving outcomes. Its employee wellness program launched in 2017 and is available to all employees, both part-time and full-time, as well as spouses and families.

“As we started to look at the conditions that were inside of our workforce, we recognized that there was an opportunity to create a more robust wellness program,” said Harris Health Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer Omar Reid.

Through events, programs, workshops, and a variety of educational opportunities, employees can learn about and build skills in physical fitness, nutrition, managing stress, chronic disease management, mental health, emotional health and spiritual well-being.

Hunnicutt said some of the programs are offered during the work day and others are on-demand.

“With a highly clinical workforce, flexibility is really important because we operate 24/7 and 365 days a year. We have employees with different schedules, night employees as well as weekend [employees], so we need a lot of flexibility,” Hunnicutt said.

Through the Employee Wellness Program, Harris Health offers:
  • diabetes and hypertension management
  • healthy lifestyle and weight management programs
  • free A1C testing for diabetics
  • an annual ‘relaxathon’ with free massages
  • recreational sports teams
  • healthy coaching and body composition scans
  • various wellness challenges
  • counseling and mental health services
  • ergonomics and postural assessments
  • educational workshops and classes
  • healthy pregnancy programs and onsite lactation rooms
Harris Health also encourages its employees to participate in special events, such as the annual Harris County Hospital District Foundation Texas Med Run and Field Day.

“Our motto here at Harris Health is Healthy at Harris, ‘caring for ourselves, so we can care for others,’” Hunnicutt said. “I really think that speaks to what our whole program is all about. You have to take care of yourself in order to be your best self for not only the patients you serve, but also for your families and your own personal missions in life.”

Harris Health places an emphasis on prevention with many of its programs addressing employee health concerns before they become a problem.

“By focusing on prevention, it allows us to find conditions earlier, and also to prevent some of the things that cause healthcare costs to increase exponentially,” Reid said.

In fact, Harris Health recently reported more than $10 million in differed costs for doctor or hospital visits among employees enrolled in chronic disease management programs for diabetes and hypertension.

Employee Wellness offers an incentive-based program, rewarding employees who participate with a $1,200-premium reduction on their health insurance each year. Employees can also earn up to $175 in gift cards for going above and beyond in the program, regardless of medical plan participation.

“The other thing that we are very proud of is if you participate in our diabetes and hypertension management program, we give you your medications for free,” Reid said.

Reid said giving employees medications for free has resulted in fewer emergency room visits and hospital stays for employees.

“The fact that we can be recognized as the healthiest employer is a testament not only to our employees, but the robustness of the program that has been established,” Reid said. “The metrics we are able to produce is a source of continuous pride.”

Harris Health’s employee wellness program has been recognized with numerous awards including being recognized as the Healthiest Employer in Texas several years in a row.

“Earning those awards from prestigious organizations validates our strategic, evidence-based approach and the outcomes that we’ve been able to achieve improving the health and well-being of our workforce,” Hunnicutt said.

To learn more about Harris Health, visit the organization's website.

The above story was produced by Multi-platform Journalist Mary Katherine Shapiro with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.