(May 26, 2021) – The Be Well Community launched one of its next initiatives in hopes of elevating the best-of-the-best in employee wellness so that we may all reimagine wellness at work. In its live Wednesday segment The Be Well Community welcomed a new partner that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of its employees and the communities surrounding its facilities. Tyson Foods, Inc. is a global corporation with more than 140,000 employees working in nearly 30 of the United States, including Arkansas.
Promoting wellness for Tyson employees
For 20 years, Tyson has offered a chaplaincy program to its staff. Tyson Chaplains Dennis Marasco and Melissa Layne joined the Be Well Community to talk about their role in promoting overall employee wellness. Before becoming chaplains, both were mental health providers.
They said Tyson has about 100 chaplain positions across its company. Layne said each chaplain typically works with one or two facilities, offering support to the people who work there. She said chaplains are on site and accessible to employees. She said sometimes, their role involves educating employees about the importance of mental health wellness.
"We can help them understand that it's okay and that mental health is something that's no different than physical health,” she said.
Layne said chaplains will go to funerals to support employees who have lost a loved one, make hospitals visits and even check on staff at their homes.
"There are so many little opportunities to extend to truth, to extend hope during a crisis or in a moment after,” she said.
Marasco explained the importance of inclusion when supporting employees and promoting health and wellness.
“That looks differently at every facility,” he said.
Marasco and Layne explained 40% of Tyson’s chaplains are bilingual and the enterprise prides itself on being “faith-friendly.” Layne said all chaplains are trained in belief systems so they’re able to connect with each employee individually and authentically, while supporting their overall wellness in a way that works for them.
Marasco jokingly described his role as a “walking, talking EAP,” or Employee Assistance Program. He said chaplains can walk alongside staff who are struggling with anxiety, depression or trauma and then help them find resources.
"We need balance,” he said. “We've got to get connected, with each other and with what's bigger than ourselves."
Marasco and Layne said organizations that put their people first are more productive.
"When we feel better, we do better,” Marasco said.
Creating a community during- and following- the coronavirus pandemic
When the coronavirus became a concern around the world, many workplaces had to change their daily operating procedures. They also began considering ways to support the mental wellbeing of their employees.
“Organizations [were] realizing, ‘Oh, we were talking wellness before the pandemic. We weren’t talking mental health wellness,’” said Dr. Shelly Farnan, a psychologist at Burrell Behavioral Health and the Vice President of the Be Well Initiatives.
That was something Tyson was already working to provide through its chaplaincy program, but had to change because of gathering restrictions and mask requirements.
Layne said Tyson started using Working Wellness, a portal designed to address physical health, emotional health, mental health and spiritual health for staff. To offer a sense of community, Tyson began a weekly “Coffee and Connect” series. During those, employees met over Zoom to have conversations about burnout, depression, challenges working at home and a range of other mental health wellness topics. At the height of the pandemic, coworkers were meeting virtually twice per week. Now, they’re doing so once a month.
Tyson’s COVID-19 response is reminiscent of the effort from which the Be Well Community was born. The Be Well Community began in 2020 as a way for Burrell Behavioral Health employees to connect while working from home and navigating the uncertainty of the coronavirus. The community was expanded to Facebook Live for all people to have access.
Since then, the Be Well Initiatives have expanded to offer wellness training for employers.
"As Burrell Behavioral Health, it is our duty to arrive in our communities to say, ‘We are here to serve your employees’ mental health wellness,” said Farnan.
Workplaces and leaders who invest in the mental health of their teams experience better outcomes. Invested Be Well Community organizations can provide a mental health wellness training package to your team. Employees will learn about emotional wellness, meditation, self-care, self-regulation and more. Organizations gain healthier, more productive employees and cultures, increased satisfaction, and decreased turnover and use of sick days.
"When we truly feel known, supported and respected within our organizations, we will bring our best selves,” Farnan said.
Find out more at:
About the Be Well Initiatives
The Be Well Initiatives were established in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic for Burrell Behavioral Health employees to connect and experience community while working from home and navigating the uncertainty of the coronavirus. That effort was expanded to Facebook Live to allow access for all people. Through intentional self-care and connection, the Be Well Community brings brain science to life to help everyone experience hope and healing.
About Burrell Behavioral Health:
Burrell Behavioral Health is one of the largest community behavioral health providers in the nation, working with more than 40,000 clients in 8 counties in Arkansas and 17 counties in Missouri. Burrell has more than 400 licensed providers offering a full continuum of care through our integrated network. Services include individual therapy and counseling, addiction recovery, psychiatric and medication management, educational and therapeutic groups, crisis intervention, medication-assisted treatment, adult stabilization, case management, residential treatment, autism, diagnostic testing and evaluations and developmental disability support. Learn more about Burrell’s programs and services at www.burrellcenter.com and www.burrellcenter.com/arkansas.
About Tyson Foods:
Tyson Foods, Inc. is one of the world’s largest food companies and a recognized leader in protein. Founded in 1935 by John W. Tyson and grown under three generations of family leadership, the company has a broad portfolio of products and brands like Tyson®, Jimmy Dean®, Hillshire Farm®, Ball Park®, Wright®, Aidells®, ibp® and State Fair®. Tyson Foods innovates continually to make protein more sustainable, tailor food for everywhere it’s available and raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. Headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, the company has 139,000 team members. Through its Core Values, Tyson Foods strives to operate with integrity, create value for its shareholders, customers, communities and team members and serve as a steward of the animals, land and environment entrusted to it. Visit WWW.TYSONFOODS.COM.