Number of Employees
Finance and Insurance
Prudential’s Comprehensive Approach to Supporting Health
Develop a comprehensive strategy to support employee health.
Encourage highly visible support from management to make health and wellness a part of the overall company culture.
Consider a human-centered design approach, and put yourself in your employees’ shoes to help create a seamless process for employees navigating the programs you provide.
Since 1875, Prudential Financial, Inc. (Prudential) has helped individual and institutional customers build and protect their wealth through a variety of insurance and investment management products. The Rock®, an image of the Rock of Gibraltar, has been, for many years, Prudential’s icon of strength, stability, expertise, and innovation. Prudential has built on this foundation of strength by supporting its employees around the globe with a culture of health and well-being. The culture is promoted through a comprehensive health strategy, multidimensional communications, proactive programs, and visible organizational support.
Comprehensive Health Strategy
With chief medical officer K. Andrew Crighton at the helm, Prudential’s health and wellness leadership team directs health strategy. This team works closely with an array of internal and external partners to promote five dimensions of health (physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial) across three realms (personal, organizational, and community). Together, the team emphasizes the health-promoting daily habits of individuals and organizational leaders (Crighton & Winick, 2011). Prudential’s five dimensions of health are based on the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health, as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1946, p. 100, italics added. Prudential, like a number of other employers, added financial and spiritual dimensions to the WHO model, recognizing that these also significantly affect health and well-being.
Prudential’s Five Dimensions of Health Offer a Holistic Approach
Optimizing physical activity, eating a nutritious diet, getting adequate rest
Completing prescribed screenings, preventive care, and making other positive lifestyle changes
Experiencing joy, enthusiasm for life and work, and an ability to focus one’s attention and energy
Meeting challenges with optimism, creativity, and the drive for success
Connecting with others in ways that bring mutual respect, support, and fulfillment
Spending adequate time in the company of family and loved ones
Experiencing meaning and purpose that make you part of something larger than yourself
Having positive morals, values, and ethics
Understanding and managing finances to meet short-and long-term goals
Creating an experience of success, abundance, and opportunities for giving to self and others
Services and Programs Supporting Personal Health
The personal component of Prudential’s health strategy includes programs and services that encourage healthy habits and support the overall well-being of individual employees and their families. Prudential’s Health and Wellness organization offers an integrated web of internal and closely managed external services. These include:
Behavioral Health Services
The behavioral health services (BHS) group provides counseling, assessments, and training, as well as life, personal budget, and adult care coaching. This internal group includes Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio, vice president of health and wellness, along with Dr. Shirley Cresci, director of BHS, and eight part-time consultants, who are based at the larger Prudential sites. Approximately 6.5% of employees participate in confidential counseling or coaching during an average year, and surveys show consistently high levels of participant satisfaction. Adult care coaching, a service for employees who care for an elderly or disabled family member, encourages the caregivers to care for their own well-being in addition to caring for their family members.
Educational programs for all employees touch on a variety of topics: stress management, understanding depression and other behavioral health conditions, time management, personal money management, and a host of others, often developed specifically to address a work group’s needs.
The BHS team extends its reach to family members and field employees through a vendor partnership with an external employee assistance program (EAP) provider. The EAP provides up to four face-to face counseling sessions per issue per year to employees and their family members at no charge. In the first visit with a counselor, and over the course of the following 24 hours, an assessment is made to determine whether the individual’s issue will likely be resolved within the four covered sessions or whether additional counseling will likely be required. In the latter case, the second visit is used to refer the individual to a longer term counselor, taking into account the individual’s mental health benefits and covered behavioral health professionals. This helps employees to fulfill their counseling needs without spending time relaying information multiple times with multiple practitioners, which can be emotionally draining.
Work/Life Resources and Flexible Schedules
Employees and family members may also call the work/life resource and referral service, available 24 hours a day through an external vendor, for dependent care and elder care and for many other personal needs, such as home improvement, places of worship, repair services, travel, pet care, and funeral arrangements across the globe. Prudential values work/life effectiveness as a key driver of health, productivity, engagement, and retention, and 85% of employees have a flexible work arrangement, such as remote access to work or nontraditional work schedules. Surveys show that this business-based flexibility ranks among the top three reasons why employees appreciate their jobs at Prudential.
Prudential’s health and wellness team is innovative in both the topics they choose for programs as well as the formats. The team often works closely with Prudential’s corporate communications department to take advantage of the company’s intranet, town hall meetings, online newspaper, as well as links to internal videos, called “PRUTubes.” These videos have featured:
A senior executive discussing his alcohol addiction and his division president describing how the condition resulted in performance counseling and referral to BHS.
Three Prudential employees sharing their experiences with domestic violence and how they sought help. This 2½ hour program was led by Dolan-Del Vecchio and Prudential’s corporate chief ethics officer, Royanne Doi. Nearly 1000 employees participated in the event, either in person or via live video stream, and many others watched the video later.
The director of BHS describing her own experiences with depression, noting the irony of someone responsible for the behavioral health needs of 20,000 people seeking care for herself. Treatment has helped her live a richer life, and she sees value in talking openly about her experience. Dolan-Del Vechio feels that these kinds of frank and visible conversations help make mental conditions less stigmatizing, and they help “build a culture where no health challenge is unmentionable.”
A new offering based on positive psychology, called “Choose Happiness,” is a seven-session, webinar-based program, developed by two onsite part-time BHS staff members. Participants learn how to enhance joyfulness using skills and habits related to gratitude, centering, and mindfulness. The program has also been delivered in person to several business groups. An individualized coaching program will be offered to individual employees across the company in the near future.
Over 100 years ago, in 1911, the first onsite Prudential infirmary was opened in Newark, New Jersey (Crighton & Winick, 2011). Prudential continues to maintain onsite health clinics at nine of its larger locations, providing access to nearly 60% of employees. Other Prudential locations receive onsite biometric screening and flu shots and have access to a variety of webinars. The clinics provide services that are broader than traditional occupational health services, including nutritional counseling, biometrics measurement, health coaching, and BHS. Having the BHS onsite reduces barriers to receiving care, such as taking time off work, arranging transportation, and finding an in-network provider.
Dolan-Del Vecchio feels strongly about empowering people to reduce overall health risks and try out new healthy behaviors.
“Health is something you do,” he says, “not something that just happens to you. Achieving our optimum health within the range of what’s possible for us depends a lot upon our daily habits, and that includes habits related to nutrition, sleep, movement or exercise, and personal money management, as well as the practices that help us feel emotionally grounded and joyful, the ways we interact with others, and the habits that help us feel positively and purposefully connected to things greater than us as individuals. Helping people create healthy habits starts with meeting people where they are and accepting them for who they are.”
To encourage healthy habits, Prudential uses WebMD’s HealthQuotient online health risk assessment (HRA) and provides a cash incentive of $150 for completion. The HRA data are analyzed by Prudential’s vendor partner, Truven Health Analytics, and the aggregate information is shared with the health and wellness team to provide insight for overall program development. Prudential also holds twice-yearly summits with Truven, all of their health-related vendors, and corresponding internal managers to facilitate collaboration and cross-referrals.
Since 2007, at least 77% of Prudential employees have participated in the HRA each year. Considerable reduction in health risks were observed between 2010 and 2014.
43% fewer employees with emotional health risk
26% fewer with overall stress risk
17% fewer with job stress risk
19% fewer with stress affecting their health/well-being
44% fewer with risk for financial problems
The organizational components include services that support the internal Prudential business groups and overall organizational health. In addition, Dolan-Del Vecchio said Prudential’s leaders are encouraged to embody the company’s culture of health and are given opportunities to role model healthy practices.
In 2010, Prudential began offering health summits to discuss the implications of health and well-being for the company and the nation. Speakers have included senior leaders, such as the company’s chief executive officer, John Strangfeld, and media personalities, such as Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor of NBC News, and a celebrity chef. About 400 employees have attended each gathering in person, with hundreds more attending via a video conference held at the company headquarters, and thousands more have watched through live or delayed video broadcasts. The meetings give executives a chance to model their personal involvement in health-related activities and to communicate the organization’s support for ongoing learning. This helps create a culture where health-related challenges and success stories may be shared.
Prudential invests in regularly held training for leaders/supervisors, led by the BHS staff, which includes how to support all five dimensions of health as a fundamental aspect of managing people. These trainings include case study reviews where small teams of about five leaders/supervisors discuss how to recognize, support, and respond constructively to employees who may be in distress or who have concerns related to health, employee relations, or organizational values of ethics and integrity. Examples include individuals who are exhibiting behaviors that may be a potential threat, signs of a precipitous decline in performance, or withdrawal that could be related to depression.
BHS staff also serve as organizational consultants in partnership with human resources personnel to help managers improve their leadership skills, gain proficiency at managing organizational change, enhance their ability to support a healthy work setting, and provide effective performance counseling. The BHS team provides approximately 400 of these organizational consultations and delivers customized training that reaches over 5,000 employees each year.
Leaders/supervisors are encouraged to know their team of employees and be familiar with their lives, to know the names of family members, or to know what employees like to do to rejuvenate or energize themselves. Building relationships helps leaders/supervisors recognize the human concerns of team members, and it may allow for referrals to behavioral health professionals when an employee needs support. For instance, if a supervisor notices that a team member has a sudden work performance decline, he or she can make more caring inquiries and refer to relevant resources. This connectedness as part of the everyday culture is encouraged in creating a platform of trust and comfort and in helping work teams weather challenges.
The effectiveness of these training efforts is measured through employee opinion/engagement surveys of employees that include questions regarding how well they feel supported in managing their health by the organization and by their specific leader/supervisor. Results from this survey help the health and wellness team focus their education efforts.
The community component of Prudential’s culture of health strategy includes services that support individual and family health as well as connections that align the company with health-related concerns in the communities where Prudential conducts business and where employees live. Representatives from Prudential’s Health and Wellness organization work with partners, such as the Northeast Business Group on Health’s workplace summits on mental health and the Care for Your Mind community discussion blogs. They also share their expertise at national-level conferences and speaking engagements. A few examples are given below:
Anti-stigma and Veteran Programs
VETalent, a collaboration with nonprofit Workforce Opportunity Services prepares veterans for new civilian careers through a work–study program. During the 18-month program, Prudential‘s BHS staff coaches the veteran interns, helping them to adapt their skills to the civilian workforce and to understand the norms of typical workplace environments. The program creates a pipeline of talented employee candidates. Since the program’s launch in 2010, over 70 veteran interns have been hired at Prudential.
Another veteran initiative brought together a panel of Prudential employees for a presentation titled “Ending the Myths & Stigma: What Everyone Should Know about Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Addiction.” The employee presenters discussed their personal experiences, how they worked to manage their conditions, and how veterans in particular are affected.
Prudential’s Health and Wellness team regularly shares with professional colleagues through national-level presentations, such as “Creating Supportive Environments: Identifying & Addressing Racial Disparities,” presented at the Health Education Research Organization (HERO) annual conference with Truven Health Analytics and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Institute for Health and Productivity Studies.
Dolan-Del Vecchio convened “A Brave New Workplace: Dismantling Mental Health Stigma and Emphasizing the Importance of ‘Behavior’ in Health,” the fourth in a series of conferences (developed in collaboration with Rutgers University and the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work) aimed at improving the capabilities of community mental health providers and developing consultative resources.
Comprehensive Health Strategy Wins Recognition and Awards
Prudential’s comprehensive health strategy has garnered the company national-level awards and recognition. In 2011, Prudential was one of three C. Everett Koop National Health Award recipients. Winners are carefully selected among private and public health initiatives that have both improved the health status of Americans through risk reduction and have documented cost savings that exceed program expenses. Most recently, Prudential was named one of FORTUNE magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies in 2014.”
What Employers Can Take Away
From the work at Prudential, what programs or activities might your organization consider?
Does your organization have a comprehensive strategy on the various aspects of employee health—including personal, organizational, and community? What steps can you take to bridge the factors that increase overall health and reduce health risks? How well integrated are the various areas of programming and their managers?
Are you utilizing an HRA that includes questions related to mental health? Do you have a plan and follow up on how the assessment results are used by your workforce to reduce their health risks?
Do you convene meetings with your internal support teams and/or vendors together to see how your various programs interact? Consider a human-centered design approach, and put yourself in your employees’ shoes to help create a seamless process for employees navigating the programs you provide.
Do you train your managers/supervisors on the business case for supporting the optimal health of their teams and on how best to identify distressed employees and provide the support that their teams may need? What metrics would you use to measure the effectiveness of this type of training?
Have you implemented any mental health awareness campaigns at your organization? Allowing individuals to share their stories may reduce stigma and increase comfort levels in talking about personal experiences. Executives may be especially powerful in a storytelling role, helping to create a culture of health. Consider teaming up with other organizations and including local news and media personalities to create a community-wide campaign.
Prudential’s Health and Wellness Leadership Team:
K. Andrew Crighton, MD, chief medical officer (directs health strategy)
Myrtho Montes, MD, medical director
Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio, vice president, health and wellness (responsible for behavioral health services)
Maureen Corcoran, vice president, health, life, and inclusion (responsible for Work/Life strategy and the organization’s communications)
KeStacie Metelski, vice president, administration
About Prudential Financial, Inc.
For nearly 140 years, Prudential Financial, Inc., has provided insurance, investment management, and other financial products and services to customers in the United States and internationally. $1.107 trillion of assets are under Prudential management. Headquartered in Newark, NJ, Prudential has 22,000 employees in the United States and another 25,000 in 40 countries worldwide.
Nancy Spangler, PhD, OTR/L, president of Spangler Associates, Inc., and consultant to the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, is a prevention and health management specialist in the Kansas City, Missouri, area.
Kate A. Burke, MA, is the former associate director for the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, is currently a Senior Training and Development Specialist at Greenleaf Integrative Strategies, and can be reached at [email protected].
Last Updated: January 2016
Crighton, K.A., & Winick, K. (2011, September). Prudential’s culture of health. Lecture prepared for 2011 HERO Forum, Phoenix, Arizona.
World Health Organization (WHO). (1946, June 19–22). Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, and entered into force on 7 April 1948.