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Why Delta is pursuing a wellbeing-focused people strategy

S.V.P. and Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting talks about Delta's holistic approach to wellbeing and what it means to build a resilient workforce of the future.
Dr. Henry Ting
Dr. Henry H. Ting
S.V.P. & Chief Health Officer

World-renowned cardiologist Dr. Henry Ting joined Delta Air Lines in 2021 as the global airline’s S.V.P. and Chief Health Officer – a first for a U.S. carrier. Dr. Ting originally came on board as a primary COVID-19 advisor who helped shape Delta’s strategies for the pandemic. His reasons for joining Delta extended well beyond the pandemic to reimagining and transforming well-being for employees and customers. He and his team take a holistic approach to taking care of Delta people by researching and investing in employees’ physical, mental, social and financial well-being.

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When I joined Delta Air Lines in 2021, my mission was to care for our people so they can thrive. While managing the pandemic response was paramount to the health and safety of our people and customers, we’ve now shifted our focus to executing a holistic and long-term vision to enhance the wellbeing of our people and customers. As our workforce has changed and become younger and more diverse, our culture of serving and caring for our people has not changed.  
I’m humbled the Atlanta Business Chronicle recently recognized some of our achievements on our journey by naming Delta as one of its Healthiest Employers among extra-large companies with at least 5,000 employees.  

By enabling our people to thrive, we are connecting the world and changing it for the better. Listening to our people, meeting them where they are, and responding with meaningful action isn’t just a responsibility – it’s core to our DNA. We know that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our customers, partners, and communities. Bringing this vision to fruition is an ongoing task that never truly ends, and we’re just getting started. But by taking cues from our people, we’ve taken steps in the right direction.  

In February 2022, we expanded access to mental health treatment from 7 to 12 free counseling sessions per issue, per year for every Delta employee and their household members. On average, adults in the U.S. wait four to six weeks to see a mental health provider. Children have an even longer wait time. Delta employees have their call to our Resources for Living employee program answered within 18 seconds, and they have access to mental health providers within four days. 

We know financial health has a ripple effect on wellbeing, too, which is why we offer financial health programs that can equip employees with skills to create a budget, improve their credit and set savings goals. Employees have increased their credit score by hundreds of points and reduced debt working with Operation HOPE.  

Our work isn’t done yet. This year, we launched a survey called the Flourishing Index to measure our employees’ physical, emotional, social and financial wellbeing. We also conducted one-on-one interviews to understand challenges and opportunities to improve their health.  
Listening to our people will inform our vision for years to come to continue building an ecosystem of resources for our people to enhance healthy living, including in mind, sleep, diet, movement and community. The insights we are gathering will shape the offerings we have in store for our people and help us recalibrate on the work we’ve already done where necessary. 

This is not – and cannot be – a top-down strategy. We need the input and advocacy of our people if we truly want to serve them. In addition to the support of the Delta executives who serve on our Wellbeing Council, we have a network of more than 500 employees who serve as Wellbeing Champions. They help communicate about the latest offerings from Delta Wellbeing and help their peers find the right resources.  

Our pursuit of a holistic wellbeing strategy is built on a simple concept: If you take care of your employees, they will in turn take care of your customers and communities. Wellbeing is a lifetime journey, and most of us at some point will experience bumps that affect our physical, social, financial and/or emotional health.  

As the pandemic showed us, our resilience is not a given. But our never-ending work as a company to build it must be. 

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