Wellness Office Story

The Michigan Medicine Wellness Office was established on March 1, 2019, after members of the Michigan Medicine community came together to study ways in which the organization could improve the well-being of its faculty, staff, and learners. The 15-member Wellness & Civility Task Force, led by Dr. Carol Bradford, then Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, evaluated Michigan Medicine survey data as well as nationwide trends to provide a set of organizational recommendations, one of which was the establishment of a Wellness Office. Shortly afterward, Dr. Kirk Brower was appointed as Faculty Director and Chief Wellness Officer.

The Michigan Medicine Wellness Office works with leaders and key partners across Michigan Medicine and the university community to ensure an environment in which our values, attitudes, and behaviors align with Michigan Medicine’s core values –including caring, which is to treat everyone with dignity, kindness, and respect, promoting the well-being of self and others. By doing this, Michigan Medicine is prioritizing well-being at the organizational level for learners, staff, and faculty. A more engaging and thriving workforce will be reflected throughout Michigan Medicine in the quality of care, education, and research we provide – improving health while taking care of each other.

Michigan Medicine Model of Workplace Well-Being*

*In an academic medical center like Michigan Medicine, the workplace environment extends to learners as well as faculty and staff, and to research and education as well as clinical care. Thus, the academic workplace environment includes learning, research, and clinical areas.

The Wellness Office was only one year old and not fully staffed in March 2020 when Michigan Medicine quickly pivoted its operations to focusing on the pandemic, caring for and maintaining surge capacity for COVID-19 patients, providing care to other acutely ill patients, and reducing the risk of exposure. At the time, our team included a Chief Wellness Officer, two new hires, and two learners. Hiring was on hold, and our small team shifted to remote work. The impact of the pandemic on the emotional health and well-being of our onsite, frontline, and remote faculty, staff, and learners accelerated much of the necessity of our work. Through this, our goals were to ensure there was a voice for well-being throughout Michigan Medicine and to serve as coordinated, centralized resource hub for those seeking support.

Learn more about the Wellness Office!

Center for Positive Organization Webinar: Michigan Medicine Wellness Office [Q & A Session]

Professor Amy Young hosts an informative Q & A session with Dr. Kirk Brower, Chief Wellness Officer and Dr. Sandy Goel, Senior Administrative Manager from the Michigan Medicine Wellness Office. The Michigan Medicine Wellness Office works with its senior leaders and key partners on organizational-level strategies and best practices to improve workplace well-being for its faculty, staff and learners. Kirk and Sandy will discuss the principles that guide the work of the office, strategies used to address well-being in a large organization, and the challenges faced, particularly as a new office during a pandemic when well-being was more important than ever.

  • Guiding principle: give voice and visibility to well-being and incorporate well-being into every decision-making across the organization

  • Strategies to improve workplace well-being: measure well-being, communicate consistently, align well-being improvement goals with missions and values of the organization, and more

  • Invite people to co-design solutions: People feel a better sense of belonging and inclusion when they can be part of the decision-making and their voices reveal what is truly needed

  • Reframing barriers as opportunities: find a new language to talk about well-being to connect and identify places the team can do better

  • Measuring well-being: frame questions that help collect information on things your team want more of (e.g., improve well-being)

  • Example practices: Wellness Advocates Network, Workplace & Learner Well-Being Grant Program, Well-being Survey