Q&A: Andy Lee, Chief Mindfulness Officer at Aetna
(May 22nd, 2017)
Andy Lee is the chief mindfulness officer at U.S. health insurer Aetna. In his role, he seeks to create a deeply rooted, mindful culture at Aetna and bring the benefits of mindfulness to the company's employees and members. He also is working to develop an industry-leading portfolio of products that support and encourage mindfulness.
Interact for Health: Could you explain more about your role and the goals of your work?
Andy Lee: I have two main objectives that I work on in my role as chief mindfulness officer: one is to bring mindfulness and the benefits of mindfulness to all of Aetna's employees, and support their well-being and their effectiveness; and the second is to develop products and services that will allow Aetna to bring the benefits of mindfulness to our employees and our members. And also making sure that mindfulness is incorporated in all the products that we offer in some way. I work with product development to be a subject matter expert as we look at products and partnerships that can help us bring mindfulness to our members.
Interact for Health: What lessons have you learned from serving as Chief Mindfulness Officer and what positive results have you seen?
Lee: Lessons learned, is that there is a lot of support. People here, as in any big company, have very busy jobs and they really appreciate these types of resources. In terms of results, our mindfulness courses have helped employees reduce their stress by 28%. We've had over 13,000 people take some sort of mindfulness course and 5,000 people take our mindfulness at work weekly program that has shown great results in terms of reducing stress. We've also seen that teamwork is always better. We've trained a group of mindfulness advocates. These are employees who have a mindfulness practice themselves and they volunteered to support bringing mindfulness to Aetna through their departments.
Interact for Health: What accomplishments of the organization and your work as Chief Mindfulness Officer are you most proud of?
Lee: Well first of all, I'm just proud to walk inside the doors every day and be able to do this work and bring so much benefit to people across the company. We are constantly developing new training programs and resource materials, and on June 1, we are opening a mindfulness center in Hartford, Conn., for employees inside our corporate headquarters, but also for people across Aetna because we will be streaming and recording classes and other activities.
Interact for Health: Could you tell me a brief story that illustrates the effect of your role at Aetna?
Lee: One of the main programs we've done so far is a June mindfulness challenge. It's a month-long internal program in which we make a concerted communication push around mindfulness for the month of June. The program has four themes and each week is a new theme with new resources -- such as work tips, guided meditation practices, videos and articles -- that we develop internally. Last year, we had a focus on personal effectiveness and this year we are focusing on strengthening relationships. Last year, we had 80,000 visits to the website, we had over 30,000 people view a video, view some content and we had over 2,000 Like's on the site.
Interact for Health: What about your work excites you or is most fulfilling?
Lee: I think it is the difference we are making to employees. I'm a long time corporate employee who has been in a lot of different roles and I know that there is a lot of stress, not just at Aetna, but everywhere. People need new tools to help them work with all the technology and all the information and demands of today's workplace, and mindfulness is just so effective at managing those potential sources of stress. At the same time, we're also working very hard to bring these benefits to members, keeping them happier and healthier and out of the health care system, and reduce their health care costs. So that's what I would say, is that with mindfulness and health care, everybody wins and I'm really excited to be part of that part of that proposition.
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