Break for a walk, perks for wellness and Run for the Cure, CIBC’s way to a healthy workplace

John Guthrie, CIBC Regional Director for CIBC BC and Northern Territories spoke to us about how CIBC has focused on leadership support and community initiatives to shape their commitment to workplace wellness.  He also shared some of the unique activities that encourage workplace wellness such as annual online wellness checkups and a dedicated doctor to keep employees up-to-date on the latest health and wellness information.

CIBC’s business values are trust, teamwork and accountability.  How do you find CIBC incorporates these values into their workplace wellness initiatives?  Any examples to share?

CIBC incorporates these values in a few different ways with the overall focus on employee wellbeing.

Team work helps us to incorporate wellness across our 44,000 team members.  For example, we recently led a shoreline clean up across 20 BC locations with CIBC employees volunteering their time to both help the environment, and take time to work on their physical wellbeing.  This is our 4th year leading this project and every year our impact continues to grow with more locations and more support added.

A way we encourage accountability within CIBC is communicating our wellness initiatives to all employees, so that way everyone’s aware of what’s coming up.  Employees can share some of their own wellness or volunteering highlights on our internal social media channel called Newsfeed.  We’re discovered this has really helped to improve accountability and encourage recognition among our team members. 

Another example is CIBC’s online Wellness Checkup for our team members.  This tool allows employees to earn extra benefit dollars if they can show their commitment and accountability towards their own wellness.  This has proved to be quite beneficial to all employees to see where they are at with their health and wellness.

CIBC is dedicated to investing in the health and wellness of their employees.  Have you seen a return on investment by implementing a workplace wellness program?  What have you found to be one of the most rewarding organizational outcomes by promoting workplace health and wellness?

Return on investment can be difficult to measure but for us it comes down to what we can see in our team members.  Everyday employees are getting together to go for a walk at lunch and talking about wellness. Regarding productivity, instead of employees wanting to take a nap when they come back from lunch, those who take a walk instead get their juices flowing.  For me personally, being active throughout the day helps me feel more energized.  I get excited about telling colleagues about what activity I tried at lunch and really try to lead by example.  Teamwork and relationship building are some of the things we get to see every day.  

Our executive leaderships’ commitment to wellbeing is also another powerful tool we see.  We practice and preach it every day, communicating to our teams the importance of commitment towards health and wellness.  For example, at a recent national meeting with all the senior leadership we encouraged everyone to be active during the breaks.  Because it was exemplified and encouraged, everyone participated and that became the dinner conversation for the night.

We would love to learn more about the unique activities CIBC is doing to encourage workplace wellness such as a dedicated doctor who also facilitates an annual online wellness checkup.  Can you tell us a little bit more about these initiatives?

Dr. Brown- that’s our guy! He communicates with our team members through a series of articles about nutrition, sleep, physical activity and more which are posted on CIBC Today, the front page of our intranet.

CIBC also partners with WorkPerks to provide discounts to CIBC employees exclusive access to discounts on over 2,000 goods and services such as Goodlife fitness and other health related perks.

CIBC participates in the CIBC Run for the Cure every year.  It brings together all employees and their families to support Canadian Cancer Society research and has a very high participation rate.  Some employees who have never walked or ran a 5 km before are motivated to participate with their team members in training programs and participating together.  It is also a great way for many of us to think of those we know that have had or are currently going through cancer.

Another innovative initiative we have to communicate our commitment to wellness is through our brand ambassadors who are athletes such as Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, and Marielle Thompson, Canada’s Olympia Freestyle Skier .  By showcasing ways to get involved with athletes in a tangible way, we promote a healthy lifestyle.  For example, we recently took a group of clients to Whistler where Marielle presented her training plans and then we all had the opportunity to hike together and “Ski with Marielle”.

We also try to involved the community and physical activity whenever possible.  We may not always be perfect when it comes to incorporating breaks into our meetings but it’s something we truly try to focus on.  When we do set up meetings, we often allow enough time for breaks to encourage employees to go for a walk or take a break to refocus and re-energize.  It’s all about providing them with the time they need to make it easier to make healthy choices with limited excuses.

How do you motivate employees to participate in these initiatives such as the annual wellness checkup or connect with the CIBC doctor?

Motivating employees can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to a large organization as large as ours.  It is important to ensure everyone feels connected and communication plays a key role in this.  It can be challenging to make sure everyone knows about all our wellness initiatives, so we focus on many different channels to communicate with all of our people.  These include our internal social media channels, our intranet, e-mails and word of mouth.  We’ve seen a lot of progress in engaging employees and participating rates throughout the years.

What challenges have you faced in implementing workplace health and wellness?

We recognize that not everyone will participate, and we can do the best that we can to promote workplace wellness.  CIBC wants to continue to make sure that there are opportunities for all of our employees to get involved and that our workplaces are inclusive of different people and different styles.  Doing a triathlon to be active may not be for everyone, but walking for 20 minutes may be more achievable. 

Looking at your company’s future workplace wellness plan, what are you most enthusiastic about?

Honestly, our partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society.  The CIBC Run for the Cure started in Victoria back in 1997 and w’re really woven it into our organizations fabric and want to continue to integrate it into tall that we do.  We get the privilege of seeing employee’s passion and commitment to his cause, as well as their passion to change their lifestyle and motivation to complete this challenge.  

Our Senior Leadership continues to be mindful in how we plan meetings, deciding on sponsorship’s and business developments and which events to be a part of to ensure we meet the needs of our employees and brand.

The last 15 years, I’ve really noticed a shift in CIBC’s commitment to workplace wellness.  It’s now become the norm and our bank’s support is incredible.  Employees are faced with health challenges every day and the focus should always be on how we can support them in getting the help they need.  I truly feel as a leader I can successfully support my team within a positive, healthy working environment, and that makes all the difference.