Regence joins business leaders to discuss solutions for workplace wellness

By Regence
April 20, 2023
2023 Thought Leadership Roundtable on workplace wellness

Join upcoming May 16 event as part of Mental Health Awareness Month

Businesses continue to grapple with how to navigate the post-pandemic workforce. Some have brought employees back to the office, some remain virtual and some are in a hybrid model. Meanwhile, employee burnout is as high as ever, and the mental health crisis marches on.

“Mental health is now in the top category of claims for employers,” said Renee Balsiger, vice president of sales for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon.

Balsiger joined other area business leaders at the recent Thought Leadership Roundtable, moderated by Portland Business Journal Publisher Candace Beeke. The panel included leaders from Tillamook County Creamery Association, Lacrosse Footwear Inc., and SheShatters to discuss possible solutions to these employer challenges.

“We tried to bring people back to the office, but if there wasn’t intentionality, we found a lot of resistance,” said Dave Sonsteng, vice president of HR and manufacturing at Lacrosse Footwear Inc. “There already were mental health issues and stress, and saying you need to come into the office X number of days per week amplified the situation.”

The Thought Leadership Roundtable covered everything from increasing access to mental health services and breaking the stigma, to fighting employee burnout.

“I look at retention numbers, and then I ask for the claims and can see that maybe half the leadership team is on high blood pressure medications,” said Hannah Austin, founder and CEO of SheShatters. “These are clues. Looking at the claims, you can tell very quickly whether you actually have a healthy organization.”

Employers are talking more about employee mental health, a topic many didn’t engage with until the start of the pandemic.

“As leaders, having open and honest conversations and modeling vulnerability gives others the permission to do the same,” said Sheila Murty, executive vice president of people and culture at Tillamook County Creamery Association. “For example, when you have positional power and say, ‘I’m leaving early to go to pick up my kids,’ you are creating psychological safety for employees to do the same.”

You can read the full conversation online, as well as visit to learn about how Regence provides health plan members with behavioral health resources and support

Join May 16 follow-on event

Participate in this important discussion by joining us at our follow-on event “Solutions for Workplace Wellbeing and Mental Health" on Tues., May 16, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland. Register here.