By Mark Stevens
For the second year in a row, Business First magazine has recognized The Resource Center as the Healthiest Employer in Western New York in the Large Division category.
The accolade continues a tremendous three-year run for TRC, which also finished as a finalist in that same category in 2015. The key to TRC’s success is its STARS Employee Wellness Program.
“It’s amazing. I really knew that we had accomplished a lot of things in the past year, but I was surprised.” said Donna Trusso, STARS Project Manager. “We’re starting to see progress from our efforts.”
“I was really, really excited. I couldn’t believe it,” said Heather Courtney, STARS Care Coordinator. “Two years in a row. It’s unbelievable.”
STARS representatives did not know whether TRC had successfully defended its Healthiest Employer title when they arrived at the awards ceremony in Buffalo. The handful of finalists in the Large Division were called up on stage and handed a brown, paper bag. STARS program newcomer Jon DeSantis opened the bag on behalf of TRC and found the winning bedazzled “golden apple” inside. The other finalists’ apples were red.
“It was a neat feeling, but it didn’t really set in until the ride home how big a deal this really was,” said Jon, TRC’s other STARS Care Coordinator. “To know that I am now part of this team, this great thing that we’re trying to do, it’s a pretty humbling experience.”
“We had some really good competition,” said Donna.
The finalists were scored based on a number of different criteria, including data, strategic planning, programming, commitment, and marketing.
The STARS team credits its success to the more than 200 agency employees enrolled in the program. That number represents about a third of the employees who are eligible to make a difference in their own lives by joining STARS.
“Some people have openly made changes in the diets they’re following, or they’re exercising more. They’re taking notice of how to better themselves as a whole,” said Heather. “It’s refreshing to see the positive changes people are making.”
The challenge now is keeping that winning momentum going in hopes of a Business First Healthiest Employer three-peat in 2018.
“We are going to have to think of bigger and better things,” said Heather, “and find out from our folks what they need and what they’re looking for.”
She, Donna and Jon agree that the regional recognition sends a message to the community – and to TRC employees not yet enrolled in STARS – that the program works.
“To see the employee engagement improve, the camaraderie that we see and the competition, it’s all been really good,” said Donna. “And the more impact that we have, the more people are going to want to participate. And that’s very meaningful.”
“Hopefully people who are in STARS are spreading the word about how beneficial it is. It’s really what the person makes of it,” said Heather. “It’s their plan, it’s their goals.”
“We just want to help them live as happy and healthy of a life as they possibly can. And we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen for them.” said Jon. “I think the results kind of speak for themselves.”
Because of the win, TRC is now eligible to go on to the national competition this September in Chicago. Last year, TRC was ranked the 77th healthiest employer of more than 6,000 that entered the national contest.