Employee Stories: Mark Drenga

Advocating for Wellness

Advocating for Wellness

Focusing on well-being is important. Mark Drenga is encouraging his colleagues to be healthier to help them be more successful at work and home.
Advocating for Wellness
The Hartford is focused on all aspects of well-being and is invested in making sure its employees and their families live the healthiest life possible.
Wellness is not new to The Hartford. The company has been offering wellness programs for decades. The Hartford regularly receives recognition, like the Business Group on Health’s platinum award as a Best Employer for Excellence in Health & Well-being, which the company won over the past seven years. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on, wellness—including mental wellness, not just fitness—has become increasingly important to employers and their employees.
In February 2021, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a survey to review the impact COVID-19 had on mental health. The results found that 4 in 10 U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. This is an increase from the 1 in 10 adults that reported these symptoms from January to June 2019 – about a year before the pandemic.
To help employees achieve their wellness goals, The Hartford offers an abundance of physical, emotional, financial and social well-being resources. A dedicated, grassroots team of about 300 employees act as Well-Being Champions, encouraging their peers to take advantage of the variety of programs The Hartford offers to support the well-being of employees.
Mark Drenga, a Claims team lead at The Hartford, has been a Well-Being Champion for the last two years. As a former golf professional for the PGA, wellness is important to Mark and he says he makes an effort to participate in healthy habits because it positively impacts his personal and professional life. It’s a mentality he wants to share with his colleagues at The Hartford.
“We want to make sure everyone realizes everything that’s offered for overall wellness. Right now, the emotional support systems available to them are especially important because the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, one way or another,” Mark says.
When employees pay attention to their physical and mental well-being, it frees them up to be more successful and productive at work, Mark says.

Take Time for Yourself

By starting his day spending time doing something he enjoys – either hitting golf balls or walking his dog – Mark says he’s more prepared to deal with any difficult situations that come up during the workday.
“Exercise can take care of emotional and mental weight we carry around with us and help lighten our load,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to deal with stress and anxiety when I’ve gotten out and taken care of myself first,” he says.
Mark also makes time for healthy nighttime habits – like avoiding his phone and computer screen before bed. That helps for better rest which is important since a good night’s sleep can help reduce stress and anxiety during the day.
One of the small well-being habits that Mark has championed is encouraging his team and other colleagues to take a five-minute wellness break during the day.
“We all need to get away from our desks and take five minutes for ourselves,” he says.
In fact, there is a whole community at The Hartford that is built around the importance of taking time for yourself to care for your emotional, mental and physical well-being. It’s called The Hartford Health Break (HHB).
The group shares what they’ve been doing to promote self-care and uses a calendar reminder as a prompt to make sure that time is taken daily. As HHB lead, Mark shares information about benefits and resources offered by The Hartford, and also works with other Well-Being Champions to promote HHB activities, infusing a culture of self-care across the company. And it’s working – the group continues to grow in size, reaching more employees with self-care reminders and tips.

Take Advantage of Well-Being Benefits

One of the reminders that Mark offers to the HHB is to take advantage of the wellness resources available to them as employees of The Hartford. “I learn about new benefits all the time by being a Well-being Champion,” Mark says. “The Hartford has a great paquete de beneficios. I want to help spread the word so more people know what resources exist and can take advantage of them.”
Some of the programs Mark has helped his team and Hartford Health Break members learn about include:
  • Weight management programs, free nutrition counseling, fitness membership reimbursements and on-site fitness centers
  • Mental and emotional support for employees and their families through employee assistance programs, a behavioral health concierge program to find the right care, and help for those suffering with addiction through substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery guidance.
  • Family and parenting resources like on-demand support for fertility, pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy, and postpartum, and returning to work. There are also resources for infant care with Maven, parenting classes through Peace at Home Parenting Solutions, and Care.com memberships.
  • Financial counseling, flexible spending accounts, student loan assistance and tuition reimbursement programs
The company encourages employees to take advantage of The Hartford’s well-being program by allowing them to earn credits toward their health premiums by participating in physical, emotional, social and financial well-being activities, like:
  • Fitness challenges
  • Accessing online workshops or resources
  • Using the benefits available to them
Mark finds it gratifying to encourage his colleagues to be healthier because of the impacts it can have on their personal and professional lives.
“It’s rewarding to help people and see them succeed and grow,” he says. “My goal is to make sure that people are ready – not just able – to work. Strong personal well-being enhances life through positive social connection, self-perceived health and increased life expectancy. This carries into their work - where they will more likely be more productive, engaged, think critically and feel accomplished. By taking care of ourselves, we can be better employees.”
Learn more about an exciting career in insurance at The Hartford.
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