UHA Employer Feature: Hawaii News Now and Katie Pickman
Katie Pickman, General Manager of Hawaii News Now (HNN), shares her company’s workplace wellness initiatives. HNN’s parent company, Gray Television has been a UHA client since 2019.
“Workplace wellness can manifest in many different ways, and HNN needs to take part in the discussion of how we are all succeeding in our workplace wellness initiatives and what valuable lessons we have learned along the way. HNN has participated in various UHA Work Well initiatives and events as these have been valuable opportunities for us to team-up with other values-driven organizations. We’re able to collaborate on workplace wellness design and implementation ideas and support one another as we collectively commit to the value of a healthy workplace.”
Tell us about your company.
My name is Katie Pickman and I am proud to serve as the General Manager of Hawaii News Now (HNN). I have been a part of this captivating storytelling industry for 23 years. Our Team at HNN is committed to serving and connecting our islands through the careful creation of over 60 hours of local news per week shared on all the screens people in Hawaii use most. In 2020, HNN launched an additional 5 hours per week in response to the community’s growing demand for local news in unprecedented times and launched Weekend Morning News in January 2023 adding 4 more hours!
How has workplace wellness affected your organization?
Honestly, it’s hard to tell, sometimes. What I can tell you is what I’ve observed. I see HNN employees having more conversations about what matters to them outside the walls of the office. I see our staff using some of the wellness amenities that have been offered (e.g., our new gym/fitness area). And I hear stories about how our staff feel supported during challenging times and their willingness to speak authentically on how their lives can be enhanced by the decisions and accommodations we make at the office.
There are many aspects of well-being: career, social, financial, physical, community and mental well-being. What programs do you have in place to help improve employee well-being?
Our parent company, Gray Television, has been a tremendous advocate for employee health and wellness over the last several years. Gray Television made it a chief priority during the start of the pandemic to not lay off employees, which enhanced a state of job security for our personnel. Gray has improved several wellness and health benefits, including a large investment into employee health insurance, where an employee-only health plan is now offered at no-cost to the employee.
Here at HNN, we take seriously the fact that journalists are first responders. So much of what we knew about the pandemic, its dangers and its costs, came to us because our journalists were out in the field, in harm’s way, to bring us these invaluable stories. Thus, HNN has made a substantial investment into the mental wellness of our staff. A couple of years ago, HNN secured an in-house wellness and performance consultant to provide emotional support, health consultation, and psychological triage to every member of our staff who wished to have these services. For HNN, the consultant is a free, unlimited, and confidential resource for every member of the HNN team who wants immediate emotional and performance support. For more serious mental health concerns the consultant then refers our staff to licensed healthcare providers for more advanced healthcare. This wellness consultant position has developed a role in leading other in-house workplace wellness initiatives.
What other resources did you use while considering a well-being initiative?
Our leadership team is engaged in our community and often asks our partners what they’re doing to support their teams’ wellness. Working with UHA Work Well has been a great place to get new ideas.
How did your employees react to these programs? Did you notice/measure any changes before and after with your workforce?
Our preliminary evaluation of the in-house wellness consultant’s services showed a 150% increase in utilization relative to our company’s existing EAP program (assuming maximum utilization of the EAP).
What advice would you give to a company just starting on their well-being initiatives?
Wellness in the workplace is best conceptualized as a value. A constant direction to travel, like a compass heading. There might be many different paths that are headed in the direction, and some of those paths might prove to be more helpful and get you further than others, but any initiative done in service of that value is time and money well spent. Be prepared to provide consistent energy and time to this commitment. Try things, see if they stick. Be willing to learn from initiatives that don’t land and be willing to pivot. But most importantly, never give up!