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UPHP nurtures an award-winning culture of employee health and wellbeing

This is the second story in a series featuring UP companies that are finding innovative ways to build a strong internal culture. Read our first company profile here.

Marquette, MI (January 7, 2021)  Each day, Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) works to advance the health and well-being of all the communities they serve, including their own 165 team members. UPHP leadership has embedded policies, programs and incentives throughout their entire company culture so that every staff member has opportunities to get and stay physically and mentally fit. This past August, UPHP’s efforts were rewarded with the 2020 Governor’s Fitness Award in the Healthy Workplace – Small category. The award recognizes “companies that create workplace wellness programs so their employees have access to resources to be fit, healthy, and more productive.”

UPHP’s focus on wellbeing starts at the top. CEO Melissa Holmquist, a strong advocate of work-life balance, leads by example. She is actively involved in company events and activities, but also routinely stresses the importance of family and life outside of work. Holmquist notes, “I think everyone in healthcare will agree that this is an especially difficult time for our industry. If we want to continue to serve our community to the best of our ability, we need to stay physically and mentally well. A big part of that is work-life balance. Companies that take an active approach to employee wellbeing understand that a healthy team is also a stronger, more productive team.”

Holmquist and her leadership team promote balance by encouraging flexibility and making alternative work schedules available for employees. By giving team members more control over their work schedules, they’re better able to manage the added stress of family obligations, especially during the pandemic. UPHP even encourages physical health through wellness benefits like gym membership and fitness class reimbursements.

UPHP’s Wellness Committee also plays a big role in maintaining the company’s health-centered culture. Made up of eight volunteer staff members from a variety of departments who are passionate about health and wellness, the committee’s vision is to “increase employee engagement and awareness of healthy living, enhancing their well-being inside and outside of the workplace.” Committee members educate, motivate and engage the staff, providing them with tools and resources that encourage them to be the healthiest version of themselves.

UPHP Human Resources Manager Kristen McIver explains, “The committee has developed a multitude of employee initiatives to promote physical wellness—such as exercise and nutrition—and mental wellness, such as relaxation, meditation, and positive thinking.” Before the pandemic, activities included holiday weight loss challenges, salad pot lucks, and healthy snack weeks as well as social team-building events like an escape room, corn maze, movie theater rental, and company sponsored family gatherings to promote mental wellness. Community events like blood drives and flu shot clinics allowed team members to help their neighbors stay healthy as well.

This year, of course is different, so the Wellness Committee has gotten creative. They’re developing virtual challenges and UPHP team members are tracking their activity and staying accountable with the Strava fitness app. McIver says, “The committee’s most recent initiative was the Novel November Wellness Challenge. All team members were challenged to take specific actions to better themselves during the month of November. Each day they wrote down one thing they did for themselves to improve their mental health and wellness. For every task they logged, they received a raffle ticket for gift baskets and other incentives.”

UPHP also encourages staff members to further their education with student loan and tuition reimbursement, and maintains and consistently promotes an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is available to all team members. UPHP’s Marketing Communication Specialist, Stephanie Stocking notes, “All of these things add up. We feel the support of our company leaders when we’re here at work, but we also know they care about our lives beyond the workplace. Together, all of these efforts form a culture that makes us stronger and healthier. It’s great to work at a place that truly cares about our wellbeing.”

About UPHP
Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) is a managed care and provider service organization that has been serving residents of the Upper Peninsula for more than 20 years. In addition to providing health coverage for its 50,000 members, UPHP supports the community by partnering with providers, employers, and community groups who share in their passion for building a healthier Upper Peninsula.

About InvestUP
InvestUP is a private sector-led economic development organization keenly focused on driving economic growth across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Founded by the region’s leading private sector businesses and the region’s universities, its mission is to deliver business and job growth across the peninsula.

As a part of our commitment to the Upper Peninsula, we collaborate with partners to share some of the most compelling stories about business and job growth across the region. Our goal through these stories is to get at the heart of what makes the U.P. unique — and to ensure these stories travel beyond our peninsula and broadly illustrate why the UP is the place to live and work.

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