Eaton’s wellness program is taken to heart, honored nationally


Eat healthy, manage stress, get fit, be tobacco free and know your biometric numbers:  Those five pillars of wellness are the formula Eaton workers are taking to heart — and it’s receiving national recognition.

Eaton was one of 20 employers that recently received the platinum award at the Leadership Summit sponsored by the National Business Group on Health’s Institute on Innovation in Workforce Well-being. The company received a platinum award for its Powering You to Live Well program.

The impetus for the program was a directive in 2009 by CEO Sandy Cutler to make the company a recognized leader and innovator in health and wellness.

“We want to make sure that we have no barriers to healthy lifestyles,” says Ellen Collier, vice president of global compensation and benefits at Eaton.

The program also has boosted employee engagement and productivity, she says.

Culture taken into account

Eaton considers employees its most valuable asset and workers have bought into the process, working to improve everyone’s health: “Everyone looks at the numbers. It’s very competitive,” Collier says.

Cutler helped roll out the program in 2009 with a video he did alongside a doctor that was translated into more than 20 languages to ensure it was a global effort, Collier says.

Consistency is the goal for the wellness program, says Suzanne Trihas, health and wellness manager, but allowances are made because of Eaton’s global presence.

“We have enough latitude in the strategy to make it culturally relevant,” she says.

For example, walking may be promoted as an activity for U.S. workers to exercise, but not in China, where people walk to work. In China, there might be 30 minutes of basketball instead.

Cutler set the tone for implementing the program, but Trihas says it was set up to try to give everyone a voice in the process.

There is a global wellness committee, as well as regional councils to help keep the program on track.

“We have sort of a top-down approach and a bottom-up approach,” Trihas says.

Align with your core values

To implement a wellness program that affects 100,000 employees, Collier says the first thing that needed to be done was to get the leadership team on-board and to not categorize it as just another human resources initiative. The support of all departments was needed.

“You need to work it into things that are already innate in your culture,” Collier says. “It really doesn’t work unless it is in line with your core values.”

Collier says one employee recruited from another company saw how important good health was at Eaton, noting it was evident from his first round of interviews just how prevalent health and culture was.

Participation rates have jumped in the wellness program since the new effort started, going from 20 to 30 percent in the beginning to between 70 and 80 percent now. Spouses have also been included as the initiative continues to evolve.