Ports Beyond the Numbers: Taking Care of Their Own

When it comes to letting their employees know how important they are, ports are stepping up – way up,

*By Candace Gibson*

On-site yoga classes. A nurse that visits premises every Wednesday. Reduced insurance premiums just for taking that Sunday walk in the woods you were planning to enjoy anyway.

Traditional benefits packages and standard-issue days off are only the tip of the iceberg at some of America’s ports. Human resources teams are committed to retaining their workers by offering incentives that make a work-life balance possible. With programs and perks designed for entry-level workers, retirees and every age in between, reporting for the workday just got a lot more rewarding.

The Port of New Orleans is a state agency, “which limits the ways that we can incentivize our employees,” explained Communications Manager Jessica Ragusa. “As a self-sustaining political subdivision of the state of Louisiana, the port receives zero tax revenues. We have to be creative and do more with less, while also showing employees how much we value their success, happiness and overall wellness,” she said.

Practically speaking, employee wellness promotes productivity. “Defined holistically, ‘wellness’ correlates with less absenteeism, more engagement and fewer accidents,” said Ragusa. “Employees should be proud of their workplace and feel supported in building a work-life balance. Port NOLA’s self-branded Ship Shape Wellness Program offers incentives to help employees make healthy choices and has engaged 35% of its employees so far in 2019. Through the program, employees can earn credits that reduce their health care premiums. In addition to hosting to lunch-and-learn seminars with themes like thinking positively and navigating the grocery store, Port NOLA schedules events throughout the year to simply bring employees together, such as inviting everyone to eat lunch outside together on Earth Day.

At the Georgia Ports Authority, Chief Human Resources Officer Lise Altman cites the port’s signature Waterfront Wellness Program as a driver of employee engagement. “Our goal is to reduce costs for everyone, encourage healthy lifestyles, seek preventive care and to promote health and wellness through prevention and intervention,” said Altman. Employees don’t have to leave the premises for their workout or checkup: GPA has onsite fitness centers and group exercise classes, as well as an onsite nurse practitioner and wellness program coordinator who can coordinate screenings for lab work, biometrics and mammograms. In addition to offering tobacco cessation classes, GPA also connects employees to local counselors through an Employee Assistance Program.

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