Bright Horizons Family Solutions: Optimas Gold Winner for Innovation

For its strong dedication to providing programs and benefits to improve its employees’ quality of life, Bright Horizons is the gold Optimas Award winner for Innovation.
Optimas 2013

At Bright Horizons Family Solutions, employees’ well-being isn’t just a company concern; it’s the company’s mantra.

In 2011 the Watertown, Massachusetts-based child-care provider decided it didn’t want to provide benefits that only made its employees happy at work; it wanted to make sure employees were happy with their entire lives.

“As our understanding of the changing nature of the employee-employer relationship continues to evolve, we recognize that in order for employees to feel whole, they need to have well-being in many areas, not just work and home,” wrote Katherine Palmer, Bright Horizons’ vice president of employee practices and diversity, in its application.

Bright Horizons defines “well-being” through five areas of an employee’s life: social, physical, financial, community and career. Because each area is affected by the other four, Bright Horizons provides employees with programs that support their whole well-being.Bright Horizons

Before the organization was able to improve the well-being of its employees, it needed to find a way to measure it. So Bright Horizons developed its Well-Being Index. The index measures whether employees feel “in control of what matters most to them.” For example, the index allows Bright Horizons to help employees manage stress and distractions from their family life, finances, and physical and mental health.

“By supporting our employees with managing very real and important sources of concern in their personal lives, we are enabling them to become more present at work,” Palmer wrote in an email.

In response to the answers Bright Horizons received from its well-being study, the organization renamed its employee assistance program The Well-Being Center and expanded the services it offers. Its EAP allows employees to talk with counselors about important life issues. It offers financial guidance, legal counsel and other miscellaneous items such as event planning assistance or helping employees find the right company to help them move.

Bright Horizons also held a 90-minute live webinar to educate employees on how to take better care of themselves “in order to maintain a high level of resilience and well-being.”

Only a year after the initiative was launched, participation in Bright Horizons’ EAP more than doubled compared with the previous year. Additionally, Bright Horizons saw a significant improvement in employee engagement and in the way its employees view the company.  

The results are “powerful in that it reflects positive change and real success from Bright Horizons’ efforts to show genuine concern for the welfare of employees,” Palmer wrote on the company’s entry form.

For its strong dedication to providing programs and benefits to improve its employees’ quality of life, Bright Horizons is the 2013 Optimas Award winner for Innovation.

Max Mihelich is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Mihelich on Twitter at @workforcemax.