The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

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202: Moving Beyond Healthcare Costs Savings with Jim Purcell, Founder of the Returns on Wellbeing Institute

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The C-Suite focus on ROI doesn’t have to be a stumbling block to getting support for comprehensive wellbeing programs. Today’s guest, Jim Purcell, Founder of the Returns on Wellbeing Institute offers three strategic and impactful ROIs that senior leadership may not be considering beyond reduction in health care spending. 

As the former CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Jim is uniquely positioned to offer practical, evidence based framework for designing and implementing effective workplace wellbeing cultures and programs that senior leadership will support. He is a frequent contributor to, and will be publishing a book in 2021.

In today’s episode, Jim shares his background and how he got interested in wellness, as well as his opinion on the difference between wellness and wellbeing. He explains how to get C-Suite’s attention by proving wellbeing works with 3 ROIs more important than reducing health care costs and how to answer the inevitable pushback. 

Jim discusses the successes experienced by both SAP and Quicken Loans, and lastly gives listeners a few tangible tips on communicating with senior leadership and getting organizations started addressing low mental and emotional wellbeing among employees.

Please note: this interview was recorded pre-COVID.

Interview Highlights (with timestamps):
  • [5:17] Jim’s background and his start in wellness
  • [8:37] Wellness vs. wellbeing
  • [13:37] How to get C-Suite’s attention
  • [17:18] Proving wellbeing works and answering the pushback
  • [31:11] Getting the CEO onboard and making it easier for them
  • [37:30] SAP and Quicken Loans
  • [41:20] Short term savings and disease management
  • [50:17] Tangible tips to communicate with senior leadership
Mentioned in this episode:
Full Bio:

Jim Purcell is the former CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. He brings a multidisciplinary perspective that helps audiences understand how to invest in a proven approach for boosting employee physical, mental/emotional, and financial wellbeing and engagement.

Jim explains why low employee wellbeing is eroding profits, how preventable chronic illness accounts for 70% of employer healthcare costs, and how mental, emotional and financial stress is causing low employee engagement and productivity, high turnover, and poor customer service.  

His message is simple: the only way employers’ can stop these losses is by addressing employees’ physical, mental/emotional, and financial wellbeing.

Jim draws on data from Deloitte to Gallup that show that whole-person employee wellbeing can deliver enormous returns, including greater engagement and lower turnover, and why employee wellbeing must become a strategic imperative. 

Jim founded the Returns On Wellbeing Institute in 2018 to provide a practical, evidence-based framework for designing and implementing effective workplace wellbeing cultures and programs. Along with a team of expert practitioners, he’s conducting research to identify best wellbeing practices. He is a contributor to, and is working on a book to be published in 2021.

Jim graduated from Cornell University and served in Viet Nam with the 101st Airborne Division Pathfinder Team. He attended Boston University Law School, graduating magna cum laude, and practiced as a healthcare trial lawyer for 25 years before becoming COO and later CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

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