June 5, 2017

Aetna commits to 'mindful' workplace with new Hartford center

PHOTO | Eric Vo
PHOTO | Eric Vo
Aetna employees visit the Mindfulness Center in Hartford.

In the midst of swirling news about a potential move of its Hartford headquarters, Aetna has quietly opened its first Mindfulness Center in the Capital City to help reduce stress and improve workplace culture.

The new center, which aims to help workers better focus on what's happening in the moment, is based at Aetna's headquarters but employees outside Connecticut can access it virtually, said Andy Lee, the insurer's chief mindfulness officer.

The center gives employees a chance to participate in mindfulness activities and learn how to incorporate the exercises in their everyday life. In the beginning, activities will be held three to four times a week. Eventually, Lee said, the center will host external speakers and courses.

"Stress affects all companies," said Lee, who indicated the goal is to transform workplace culture to help workers effectively manage stress.

"It's a part of the company's broader strategy," said Cheryl Jones, the director of mindfulness at Aetna. "We're evolving beyond the mindfulness-based wellness programs and aiming to create a workplace culture of well-being."

Aetna first offered mindfulness programs in 2011, with a Mindfulness Challenge in 2016 drumming up "significant" interest in the workforce, the company said.

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