by Kayla Sheely

At Voice Systems Engineering, the health and well-being of our employees are a top priority. With so much time spent at work, it is essential to dedicate efforts to improving the wellbeing and productivity of a healthy workplace. Cultivating robust workplace wellness programs can affect employees’ output and motivation, and they make us feel good in all areas of life. 

In 2017 when Dina McLean stepped into the Employee Benefits Advocate role, VSE had an existing fitness reimbursement program. However, she started getting feedback from employees that the program wasn’t meeting everyone's needs. She decided to bring this opportunity to Finance and People Resource for a brainstorming session, and the Wellness Wallet program was formed.  

Dina says, “The purpose of the program is for the health and wellbeing of our employees. While many employees already regularly exercise, we also want to encourage others and give more incentives. There's a lot of variety of eligible items or services that should meet the needs of everyone in some way.” 

Participation in the program is simple, and the program allows options to accommodate different approaches to wellness. To participate, all employees need to do is to provide a receipt for one of the qualified activities listed below to the Employee Benefits Advocate. Then they will see the reimbursement within the next two pay cycles. Reimbursements in the program are considered taxable fringe benefits by the IRS and are subject to all relevant employment taxes.  

Wellness dollars can be used for:  

  • Gym/fitness memberships 

  • Therapeutic massage  

  • Exercise classes including yoga, Pilates, personal training, or others  

  • Entrance fees for sports leagues or sponsored runs 

  • Community supported agriculture programs (CSA)  

  • Exercise trackers like Fitbit or Garmin 

  • Exercise equipment 

  • At-home workstation including a desk, standing desk, chair, lumbar support cushion, and more 

  • Nutritional counseling by a certified professional  

  • Fitness and meditation apps 

Employees can also bring other ideas to the Employee Benefits Advocate role to be considered for inclusion in the program.  

According to Dina, the employee response to the program has been positive, with the majority of employees taking advantage of the benefit. She says, “I'm always trying to think of different ways to get people involved. We have a very proactive fitness group so it can get challenging to challenge the employees.” 

When VSE’s insurance broker recommended the Motion Connected app as another way to build community and momentum around health and wellness, Dina decided to give it a shot. She says, “I'm just starting with one part of the app’s capabilities and trying it out. I’m trying to come up with some challenges and be able to award the participants over and above what they already can use out of their wellness dollars.”  

To launch the new Motion Connected app, VSE kicked off with an April step challenge to encourage participants to get a daily average of 6,500 steps for the month. Following its success, the step challenge is continuing through the end of the quarter in June to coincide with the quarterly wellness competitions Motion Connected runs itself. 

Dina looks forward to joining efforts with roles from Community to continue to expand VSE’s wellness programs. She says, “My passion for wellness has been for 25 years. I have two old injuries, so I have always been exploring things like massage, yoga, and exercise to find things good for your body and whole being. In my experience, wellness can even flow from the employee to children or the family. Now I have the grandkids that are doing yoga behind me, and they're getting to get exposure as toddlers.”