A healthier community starts with a healthier workforce

Just north of Orlando are the boundary lines of Seminole County, Florida, where more than 1,400 employees in the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) work to reduce crime and the fear of crime among upwards of 470,000 Floridians.

“From patrolling the streets to working in child protective services, our employees are dealing with a lot of stressful situations,” says Chief of Administrative Services, Lisa Spriggs, whose team manages employee benefits.

Over time, those tough scenarios can start affecting the emotional well-being of employees, as a recent SCSO survey proved: Most survey respondents reported feeling overwhelmed with stress sometimes or often.1

This can be problematic because as Sheriff Dennis Lemma points out:

To come alongside their employees and equip them with resources to help them better manage their health holistically, including their emotional well-being, SCSO has worked to make several key changes with its employee benefits program to create a community of care.

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Engaging employees in their health and well-being

To help educate employees about the wellness opportunities open to them, SCSO brought in an on-site UnitedHealthcare Health Engagement Nurse named Lisa Guiley to get employees involved in everything from wellness coaching to weight loss.

With the aim of reaching as many SCSO employees as possible, Guiley, better known as “Nurse Lisa,” has relied on a variety of communication efforts, including newsletters, videos, on-site presentations, step and fitness challenges, one-on-one consultations and more.

In addition, SCSO switched from a fully insured plan to a self-funded plan administered by UnitedHealthcare, which gave them more flexibility to expand and enhance their benefits, wellness programs and mental health support, as well as better manage costs. SCSO also changed its Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider to Optum for improved coordination between medical and behavioral health benefits.

The result: More employees are now making informed choices to get healthier, such as getting preventative care and participating in clinical programs. In fact, in 2021, there were more than 400 employee information sessions on health resources, wellness, nutrition and more.2 There was a 20% rise in decision-making scores related to wellness among employees who engaged with the health engagement nurse compared to those who didn’t.3 Plus, 116 at-risk employee participants lost a combined 1,123 pounds in a weight-loss program.4

Prioritizing mental health support

One of Sheriff Lemma’s top priorities for both SCSO workforce and the wider community is mitigating mental health issues.

“The need for appropriate mental health services in our community has never been greater than it is today,” says Sheriff Lemma. “Both our workforce and community deserve high-quality resources to ensure they are always in the best state of mind.”

On the job, this starts with communicating with employees that their benefits include behavioral health support, according to Chief Spriggs.

Nurse Lisa has helped employees understand how to access a continuum of behavioral health benefits, including in-person and virtual therapy and tools like the Sanvello® app, which employees can download for free to help manage stress, anxiety and depression.

Plus, with UnitedHealthcare fellow company, Optum, administering its Employee Assistance Program (EAP), mental health support is more easily coordinated with the medical plan.

These days, “employees are more willing to discuss mental health and what they’re going through than in the past,” says Chief Spriggs.

That willingness combined with expanded health benefits creates a lot more opportunity for better health outcomes.

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