By Joe Garvey

For the second year in a row, Old Dominion University has been recognized as one of Virginia’s healthiest employers.

The University placed fifth among employers with 500 to 4,999 employees in the 2023 Healthiest Employers in Virginia awards program, which honors higher education institutions and corporate businesses that emphasize the well-being of their employees. For 2022, ODU was listed sixth among employers in the commonwealth that have 1,500 to 4,999 workers.

For 2023, ODU was particularly recognized for its tuition assistance program, which “demonstrates a commitment to the employee development, encourages personal growth and contributes to employee retention,” according to the Healthiest Employers in Virginia website.

“Supporting our employees through this program not only benefits ODU but the surrounding community,” said September Sanderlin, ODU’s vice president for human resources, diversity, equity and inclusion. “This amazing program is one of few in higher education that include an eligible employee’s dependents. ODU’s tuition assistance program is a wonderful resource to aid in attracting and retaining top talent, while enhancing employee engagement and loyalty.”

In its submission, ODU also stressed its many efforts to address employees’ mental health and well-being, to include the following resources and benefits:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Employee resource groups
  • Training and professional development
  • CommonHealth
  • Paid parental leave
  • Mobile mammography screenings
  • Campus walking trails

“Having mental health resources in place can help reduce absenteeism and turnover rates,” Kim Butler, benefits specialist in ODU’s Department of Human Resources, wrote in the University’s submission. “Promoting mental health can create a positive work culture that values employee well-being and can improve overall job satisfaction.”

The only other higher education institution on the list is the University of Virginia, which ranked third among employers with more than 10,000 employees.

Award applicants were evaluated across six categories: Culture and Leadership, Foundational Components, Strategic Planning, Communication and Marketing, Programming and Interventions, and Reporting and Analytics. Completed assessments were ranked with the proprietary Healthiest Employers® Index, a 1-100 rubric for wellness programming. The survey is scored and powered by Springbuk, a health intelligence platform.    

Since 2009, Springbuk has administered the Healthiest Employers® Awards Program across the country to honor employers who strive to improve their worksite health and wellness programs.