Kristin Deyle, President and Founder, Unity Wellness GroupKristin Deyle, President and Founder
Companies are realizing the cost and impact of their workforces’ work-related stress and consequent productivity issues. Many are recognizing the role they play in nurturing and retaining talent as a paradigm of overall employee wellness. As such, employee wellness programs are increasingly becoming a necessity for organizations of all shapes and sizes. To this end, Unity Wellness Group positions itself as an employee wellness all-rounder, helping its clients’ workforce in effectively managing their stress levels. The company provides several customized occupational health and wellness programs in this regard.

In an interview with Manage HR, Kristin Deyle, President and Founder of Unity Wellness Group, shares how the company helps its clients manage the wellbeing of their staff through its innovative and effective wellness programs.

Could you give us a brief overview of Unity Wellness Group?

Unity Wellness Group is a wellness company that focuses on improving a company’s most important asset: their employees. We do this by reducing stress and optimizing their overall wellness and vitality. Our mission is to provide programs that address the specific wellness vulnerabilities of a workplace and strengthen the value exchange between employees and the companies they work for thereby increasing employee retention and engagement. Wellness is good business and it makes complete financial sense for corporations to provide wellness programs to their employees. So that’s the background of Unity Wellness Group.

What are some of the painpoints and challenges that companies have concerning occupational health and wellbeing? How do you go about addressing them?

Stress is a common pain point for both companies and their employees. Even some of the best companies to work for, with great work cultures, have stressed employees – just fewer. Stress is also the cause of many underlying health issues that can progressively worsen. Recent surveys show that one out of every five employees will eventually quit because of stress. Sadly, 53% of employees believe companies don’t care about them or their stress. Most absenteeism is caused by stress -- not illness. What’s more, is presenteeism costs companies even more. These employees don’t use sick days but show up yet are not able to be present, productive and manage their duties.

So, one of the things we do to address this issue is to try to understand specifically where the stress stems from to develop a stress intervention plan that is effective. For one person, stress can be from increased workload; for others, it can be catastrophic or negative thinking. Some will say their stress is due to not being able to maintain family/work balance. Once we isolate the source, we customize solutions to bring relief to it, and that can include a variety of things. If stress comes from work culture, there are emotional intelligence and communication assertiveness seminars that help employees understand how to work better together.

If the stress is due to an employee’s thinking, there are cognitive-behavioral mind-body seminars that help them think differently and stop negative thought processing. There’s a layered multitude of things that one can do to address stress. Companies must identify where the stress is coming from so that they can address it in the right places accurately and supply the life skills and tools. Once learned, these tools can be life changing. “Wellness goes beyond stress management which is why we offer programs that address the entire spectrum of the wellness wheel. It is important that companies identify their specific workplace wellness vulnerabilities so they can address them effectively and accurately.”

Can you walk us through the type of programs you bring to the table and enlighten our readers about what they do?

Unity’s programs and services break down into three areas: consulting and staff support, wellness education and communications and promotion. Wellness consulting and staff support is where we work with companies to launch, expand or optimize their wellness program. We help them build a strategic wellness plan using best practice methodology.

It is important that companies identify their specific workplace wellness vulnerabilities so they can address them effectively and accurately

Some clients already have a robust wellness program and want us to help them optimize it, gamify it or digitize it for better data tacking and analysis. The other service we offer is staff support. While working with the HR organization, we found that they wear lots of hats like talent acquisition, corporate and diversity policy and much more! So, they’re basically swamped. To impart some relief and support we can provide a Wellness VP to work with them and provide focused information-experts to drive the initiative forward. This way HR is driving it -- not ignoring it. This also helps organizations implement best practices that help the wellness initiative be successful long term. The second part of our services is content focused on wellness education programs, seminars or courses focused on behavioral change. Online options are available for all programs and all of Unity’s educators are master’s and Ph.D. level teachers. We offer stress management, nutrition, fitness, preventative and disease management curriculum. Lastly, we provide deep wellness initiative communication plans to brand, communicate and promote and recruit employees to attend and participate. These services help employees recognize and value the wellness initiatives with ways to engage and respond on an ongoing basis. Promoting each event is also key as employees have a lot going on and a focus on their primary responsibilities; they need to be made aware and then reminded of things coming up with a 5 second option to enroll or opt in.

Could you elaborate on who your customers are? How does Unity Wellness Group identify their requirements and deliver its services to them?

Our customers are truly a mixed bag of Fortune 500, mid-sized, small companies, startups and even schools. We consider ourselves a customized wellness company. We devise customized surveys for the employees, encourage participation in the surveys and formulate a plan based on identified wellness vulnerabilities but also needs, desires and interests. It’s important that wellness is as enjoyable as it is effective. Our wellness educators love what they do and are very effective at connecting. These connections help change old behaviors and create new healthier ones in people.

Can you comment on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Unity Wellness Group and how you adapted to the existing landscape?

COVID-19 has deeply impacted our business. Most of our spring and summer engagements were cancelled because of the pandemic mainly due to crowd control. Client employees really enjoyed and preferred us coming to their workplace or school for events like seminars, programs and courses. And even though we have always provided online options and webinars, they were not the most popular option. Early into quarantine, companies were focused on retooling and engineering how they work -- and rightfully so – and wellness by proxy was put on pause. However, wellness education is not codependent on being in an auditorium in person with large groups of people. The same options are available through customized webinar platforms that we have offered for the past 12 years. For Unity, adapting to the existing landscape is creating new programs that address new sources of unease for employees and better communicating that we are an obvious virtual option in workplace wellness education. Employees need wellness now more than ever. Many employees are now dealing with isolation and other Covid-related stress issues that are populating. Wellness programs can be accessed on demand anytime no matter where your employees work. Companies need to un-pause and move forward as employees’ wellness needs have not changed and, in many, cases relating mental health are peaking.