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The Secret to CEO Happiness?

May 1, 2019

The answer is – employee satisfaction. Just ask Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna. While recovering from a near-death neck injury, Mark learned that recovery is a state of mind. “If your mind is in the right place, you can do anything,” he shared during a CBS news interview. Bertolini found healing in yoga and meditation to deal with the pain of his injury, and that inspired him to bring a new mindset to Aetna.

He pointed out that employee engagement is everything in a service economy, so he reimagined a workplace that could improve the health and mindset of his employees.  His concept includes fair pay, work-life balance, onsite doctors, exam rooms, massage therapists, healthy food options, nutritious Meals To Go, and a fitness center where employees have permission to exercise any time of the day. Aetna also offers yoga classes and virtual classes in mindfulness like Managing Activities to Prevent Burnout all creating a more compassionate workplace.

“Companies should invest time into having a brand that extends beyond their external recognition- Their brand should be deeply rooted internally as well. 

 Aetna invests in its people to get them engaged every day, Mark explained. And, since 60% of Aetna’s operating infrastructure is people, why not invest in them? This type of investment is okay with investors too because it not only affects the bottom line, it impacts the sustainability of the business over time.

As a result of Bertolini’s ideas, Aetna employees reported a 28% decrease in stress levels and 20% improvement in sleep quality. Employees also claim that this employee-focused way of doing business has saved marriages, and even lives. A happier workplace is a more productive workplace, so imagine the effect of 50,000 employees being more productive and inspired. That might explain the steady rise in Aetna’s stock price over the past five years from $29.16 per share (May 2010) to $110.08 per share (May 2015).

Just like all good brands, Aetna is guided by principles that provide clarity and focus:

Integrity – Do the right thing for the right reason.

Excellence – We strive to deliver the highest quality and value possible through simple, easy and relevant solutions.

Caring – We listen to and respect our customers and each other so we can act with insight, understanding and compassion.

Inspiration – We inspire each other to explore ideas that can make the world a better place.

As a Certified Brand Strategist through The Brand Establishment, I help brands identify ways to engage employees so they can embrace the brand as it relates to job function and the greater good. While many organizations have guiding principles, Aetna got it right by aligning its business and brand and making the commitment to help its employees live the brand every day. And that creates one big, happy family!



Michelle Taglialatela is Tag’s brand strategist, one of 35 nationally who is certified by The Brand Establishment.
Michelle applies Tag’s proprietary process to create one-of-a-kind brand strategies that transform cultures and improve the bottom line. Tag has brand depth rivaled by few; and has been working with clients for more than a decade helping them exceed their objectives and stand out!

About The Brand Establishment

The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.