A New Age in Caregiver Well-being

Creating and executing a well-being strategy


By Regina Chandler, MSOD, Executive Director, Workplace Wellness


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Across healthcare, the COVID-19 pandemic has shined light on the vital importance of caregiver well-being. The height of the pandemic showed healthcare leaders firsthand the value of supporting caregivers – personally and professionally – to ensure they could be at their best to provide care for patients and communities.

At Cleveland Clinic, we have set in motion the development of a re-imagined organizational well-being strategy.

When we talk about well-being it is an explicit focal point of our organizational value of teamwork (other Cleveland Clinic values include quality and safety, empathy, inclusion, integrity, and innovation). Our well-being strategy – which encompasses a single, unified vision and framework for well-being that considers caregiver needs today and in the future – aims to create a culture for our caregivers where they:

  • are valued, nurtured, supported, and encouraged.
  • feel safe and comfortable, as well as respected and included.
  • have meaningful work they can do in highly reliable teams.
  • can develop as individuals and as team members with opportunities to grow in their careers.

As we worked to define, create and now execute our strategy, we’ve learned a few valuable lessons that can help organizations in need of a similar strategic well-being reset.

Defining and creating a well-being strategy

In any organization, executive leadership commitment and fortitude drive an effective strategy. Leadership support of caregiver well-being is essential to creating a culture of health and achieving positive outcomes. Organizations should first establish a structured team to lead strategy creation and execution.

To lead our efforts, we launched a refined and expanded well-being governance structure. The structure is inclusive, multidisciplinary and global and represents all Cleveland Clinic caregivers. It includes a steering committee of individuals and departments who played a vital role in providing the specialized expertise needed to see us through the pandemic. The steering committee reports to the Cleveland Clinic Caregiver Office executive team and is responsible for implementing, activating and executing well-being efforts locally.


A holistic approach to employee well-being

The strategy must reflect the needs of all caregivers. This includes clinical and non-clinical employees’ personal and professional journeys. Often, the most challenging part of creating this kind of culture is making well-being a realistic part of each person’s life.

Our strategy aims to:

  • remove barriers to optimize energy.
  • create opportunities to promote self-care.
  • provide chronic disease management and support.
  • encourage financial awareness and participation in the employee benefits program.
  • ensure proactive support for mental well-being.
  • foster effective communication and a culture of safety.
  • establish social connectedness among caregivers.

Cleveland Clinic follows an evidence-based, multidimensional and holistic approach to well-being and our strategy reflects it. This means that in addition to programs addressing traditional elements of disease prevention and physical health, we consider each person as a whole and aim to provide an environment that has a positive impact on the body, emotions, mind and spirit of our caregivers.

Using data to support the strategy

A final consideration is to create a strategy that is data driven and tied to business performance. For example, recent research by Kaiser Permanente shows that employees with a strong sense of well-being are 81 percent less likely to look for a new job, are more engaged in their work, and are 41 percent less likely to cause absenteeism problems.

At Cleveland Clinic, well-being is now an objective and key result metric for executive leaders in our organization’s strategic plan, which focuses the health system’s priorities. We have established goals, objectives, and expected results with all data points tied to our strategic plan. Those include the impact of well-being on caregiver productivity, engagement, recruitment, and retention, care quality and patient safety and overall business performance. When contemplating well-being strategies, it’s important to think about the eventual return on investment, not just the short-term return for a specific program.

Executing a well-being strategy

In addition to thoughtfully creating and defining the strategy, introducing it to employees also requires a careful plan. Before launching Cleveland Clinic’s strategy, we conducted an internal panel survey designed to gauge whether the well-being elements within our new strategic framework resonated with employees. We received helpful input, and because of that feedback, made a few minor changes to our strategy prior to launching it.


When we were ready to launch, we did so with a five-point plan. The plan is the foundation of the strategic work and is key to executing any organizational well-being strategy. Our plan includes:

  1. Activation. Make resources easy to access so caregivers can quickly find what they need, when they need it (i.e., a single point of access) and further drive usage of well-being resources, as well as identify resources that are relevant to each caregiver.

  2. Programming. Optimize offerings to ensure programming covers multiple themes and is relevant for every caregiver and well-being dimension (i.e., physical, emotional, social, financial and intellectual) as identified by each dimension’s subject matter experts.

  3. Data/metrics. Analyze programmatic data and metrics across multiple macro data sets to determine collective measurements and their association to well-being. Include survey data, well-being index to quality, and horizontal views of manager-reported data across the health system (i.e., quality, safety, retention, engagement) and their association to well-being.

  4. Research. Innovate on evidence-based interventions in partnership with research colleagues. Study the impact of the programming, and correlate and demonstrate the value of the investment.

  5. Branding. Create a cohesive brand for systemwide well-being and multidisciplinary programming that is connected to the Caregiver Office brand, Cleveland Clinic brand and value proposition as an employer.

Acknowledging that strategy execution takes time is also important. This level of work won’t happen overnight. Investing in the well-being of caregivers is a commitment with a value proposition that emerges over the course of days, weeks, months and even years. Know that a journey of this magnitude will necessitate several deeper information dives, purposeful innovation, comprehensive awareness campaigns and focused measurement efforts. It will also require the ongoing commitment and dedication of leadership to effectively build the strategy into the organization’s global culture.

Work toward your vision together

Healthcare leaders who have a well-being vision that they believe in should focus on building relationships and the trust necessary to realize that vision. Aligning teams and internal experts to get everyone on the same path is the way to embark on a future that will deliver the most benefit to your caregivers, patients and organization.

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