Christian Emory Takes Wellness on the Road at Harris Teeter

Christian Emory is taking wellness on the road for the thirty-six thousand valued associates at Harris Teeter, the North Carolina-based retailer. As the current director of benefits and compensation, Emory is empowering Harris Teeter to not just provide wellness options but to meet associates where they are and bring wellness options to them

Last year, the company piloted a Wellness Roadshow, a traveling event that brought routine medical services to Harris Teeter’s store support center and distribution centers. The medical services offered, like dental exams and physical exams, are important to maintain overall health, and can often be overlooked or forgotten. By bringing the medical care onsite, Emory knew it would be easier for associates to prioritize their health.

After a successful pilot, the roadshow expanded.

“This year, we’re aiming for twenty-five store locations in addition to continuing our efforts at our distribution centers and store support center,” Emory explains. “This year, we wanted to expand our wellness efforts to our associates in our stores. There were challenges to work through, but when you get feedback like ‘This was the first time I ever got my eyes examined,’ you’re willing to do whatever you can to enrich people’s lives.”

Emory says she hears firsthand that her team has helped enrich lives, a driving purpose for Emory and Harris Teeter as a whole. To expand their scope, they’ve partnered with Cigna and Access Care Health LLC to provide physicals, musculoskeletal exams, dental cleanings, vision and auditory exams, and a whole host of other services for Harris Teeter associates. Additionally, the roadshow highlights Harris Teeter pharmacies, where associates and customers can receive vaccines and biometric screenings, along with their normal prescriptions.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome was the need for space. Breakrooms were converted for the day, but other times independent pods were brought onsite to accommodate the services being offered. Those efforts required negotiation with landlords, store owners, and other stakeholders who could help drive associate engagement to take advantage of the opportunities.

“We want to make it easy for our associates and hopefully encourage them to get excited about their own well-being,” Emory explains. “I’m so excited about it, and I hope we can continue to expand this and make it to every associate in the company. This company doesn’t exist without our associates, and so it brings me pride to be able to show up for them in a way that I hope is meaningful.”

Emory’s enthusiasm for Harris Teeter might be a little deeper than the average director’s. The company employed both of her parents and, despite her best efforts, was her employer in high school.

“I was sixteen and did not want to be working in a grocery store,” Emory says, laughing. “I wanted to be a lifeguard or some other job that you find really attractive at that age. It’s really come full circle.”

When Emory graduated from high school, the company asked her if she would come work on a special project for the summer at the store support center. She stayed with the company through college and went through their formalized internship program, where she interned in recruiting, relocation, payroll, accounting, HR systems and, ultimately, benefits.

Christian Emory Harris Teeter
Photo by Studio 35 Photography

At the same time, Emory, a talented flutist, decided to join the National Guard and perform in the 440th Army Band out of North Carolina. It was there that Emory came to understand the kind of leader she ultimately wanted to be. That experience would support her move into consulting before she eventually returned to Harris Teeter in 2021, first as a benefits supervisor and then promoted into her current role eight months later.

Emory believes it is imperative to find the best outcomes for all Harris Teeter associates. If there is an issue to tackle, you can count her in for a brainstorm, a conversation, or just to be a sounding board. This approach has helped Emory and her team create meaningful relationships across the organization that, in return, ensure partners who are excited to help contribute to projects like the Wellness Roadshow.

“Human resources isn’t a revenue-generating department, and so I think it’s important for us to create buy-in and also use our voices to help drive change,” the director says. “One thing I have learned is that even if it’s uncomfortable, you need to speak up and advocate for what you believe in. Make sure you’re prepared and can back it up. But first, be ready to speak up.”

Emory returned to Harris Teeter at a time when many associates were still struggling with the new realities of the pandemic environment. Her team rolled out the “Are You All Right?” campaign to help associates be more open about mental health, providing resources and education that associates might feel stigmatized about asking for help in the first place.

“It was important for us to acknowledge that we were all having a very hard time,” Emory says. “We just wanted to try and remove some of the stigma from asking for help. Your mental health is a vital part of your life and shouldn’t be something you’re ever embarrassed about.”

The campaign would be the first step in what would evolve Harris Teeter’s wellness strategy and eventually lead to the Wellness Roadshow. Where’s the next stop for the traveling wellness campaign? Emory assures us that if she’s coming to a city near you, you’ll know.

At Marsh McLennan Agency, our Absence, Disability, and Life Practice helps clients understand, integrate, measure, and manage leaves of absence, time away from work, disability, and life insurance programs. Our dedicated experts work with clients to provide a comprehensive approach based on diverse thought leadership and objective data to deliver valuable insights. Specializing in absence for over twenty-five years allows us to help employers meet employee expectations, reduce compliance risk, and manage costs. We are here to be your trusted partner, allowing you to prioritize what truly matters: your people.

Cigna Healthcare:

“Christian’s expansion of their wellness program to bring healthcare services to many of their Harris Teeter locations is phenomenal. We are honored to partner with Christian to improve the vitality of their valued associates.”

–Lisa Fraser, Cigna’s National Account’s Vice President

The post Christian Emory Takes Wellness on the Road at Harris Teeter appeared first on American Healthcare Leader.

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