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Wellness and Benefits Fair raises employee awareness

Human Resources hosted its annual Wellness and Benefits Fair Thursday at the Wellness Center to inform campus employees of their benefits and the resources available to them. | Nancy Aneke/ The Cougar.

The Office of Human Resources hosted its annual Wellness and Benefits Fair on Thursday at the Wellness Center to inform campus employees of their benefits and the resources available to them.

The fair, which was expected to host as many as 1,300 employees, gave faculty and staff an opportunity to network with one another and speak with representatives from various on-campus organizations.

“They will meet organization representatives to learn about existing and new resources as well as to have their questions answered,” said wellness administrator Courtney Stein. “It’s also a fun, social opportunity for employees to see their colleagues from across the campus.”

As the HR wellness administrator, Stein said that he works to promote and support employee health and wellbeing through different programs including annual onsite vaccinations, mammograms and participation in the Corporate 5K

Stein said he has a holistic approach to addressing employee health concerns, but he thinks employee mental health is a top priority.

“Wellness goes beyond just physical. It includes social, financial, emotional and more,” Stein said. “While barriers to health and well-being are unique to each person, I believe mental health is one of the top concerns for employees.  Finding effective ways to manage stress and burnout, and to maintain balance, are challenging but essential.”

Stein said he hopes the connections employees make at the fair will ultimately help their mental health.

“We’re hoping people will connect with benefits representatives and with each other,” Stein said. “In some way, each of these connections can support employee health and wellbeing.”

One of the representatives present at the fair, Rebecca Negri, the marketing and outreach manager for UH Health Family Care Center, said she was there to spread awareness about the center and its services.

“Not many employees know that we’re even on campus, so we’re just trying to bring that awareness,” Negri said. “We have same-day exam appointments. We’re right here with free parking, and we’re ready to see them.”

Deanna Holmes, whose role as senior benefits analyst includes providing leadership and mentoring the benefits team, said that, since its first holding in 1987, the fair has been an effective tool to inform employees about their benefits throughout the year.

“The first fair was hosted in 1987, and the event has grown tremendously over the years,” Holmes said. “Throughout the year, we offer a wealth of educational opportunities for our faculty and staff, so they are generally well versed as it relates to the benefits offered by the University.”

While employees are taught about their benefits during orientation, UH alumni Jose Hernandez, who graduated in May 2022 with a degree in digital media and project technology, and now works as a user service specialist for the Office of Administration and Finance said the fair helped him better understand what his benefits are.

“I remember during orientation they went through the benefits, but it was a little overwhelming,” Hernandez said. “After being in the position for a while, you do get some questions about (benefits), so this fair helps me get a better understanding.”

Hernandez said he learned that his medical insurance covers fitness or can discount the cost of it. He said the fair was a great opportunity to learn more about little things he was not aware of before.

“I wanted to learn more about my benefits because this is the first job I’ve got after graduating,” Hernandez said. “This is a good time for me to learn and ask questions.”

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