Success story

Engaging Employees and Retirees: City of Virginia Beach & Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Culture & employee experience

The City of Virginia Beach and Virginia Beach City Public Schools have long-employed various tactics to promote employee wellness. For years, the city and schools developed and implemented a variety of wellness programs to meet the needs of their population.

Move The Needle With Wellbeing

In Spring of 2013, the city and schools decided to integrate their wellness program with their benefit plan design by offering a reduced premium to those who participated in a biometric screening and health coaching.

While the program caused a surge in participation of the wellness programs offered by the city and schools; the self-reporting programs and an uninspiring health coaching option weren’t moving the needle nor resonating with the city and school’s employee population. Data was challenging to compile, especially as departments’ sought statistics for accreditation.

By investing in a modern technology wellbeing solution, Benefits Coordinator Lauren Heath recognized an opportunity to centralize the city and school’s wellbeing initiatives, alleviate administrative burden for the benefits team, and utilize data to continue to move the city and school’s 17,000+ employees and retirees forward toward a culture of greater health and engagement.


of population reaching weekly recommended level of physical activity


of employees who would be disappointed if they could no longer use Personify Health program


Population shift from high risk BMI category to low or reduced-risk category

Launch A Data-Driven Platform That Drives Daily Engagement

As part of the rebranding of BEWell (Beach Employee Wellness), the City of Virginia Beach and Virginia Beach City Public Schools introduced Personify Health to help move the city and schools beyond the traditional approach to wellness, providing employees and retirees the tools to not just identify risk factors but drive positive behavior change.

Prior to selecting a wellbeing vendor, Heath gathered employee feedback through multiple avenues to determine the best match for her population, which includes all full-time City of Virginia Beach employees and Virginia Beach City Public School employees, and retirees covered under the city and school health insurance plan.

Percy Expression

“I wanted employees to be able to preview it, especially those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy,” said Heath. “I knew that if they perceived the wellness platform as too complicated, employees and retirees wouldn’t use it. We gathered a group of employees to test out the demo site of the platforms we were reviewing. Employees loved the look and feel of Personify Health.”

The city and schools kicked off the program with an extended two-day launch event to reach various populations, complete with a team of 15 supporters to assist employees and retirees in quickly and easily registering.

The city and schools also gifted 5,000 free Max devices on a first-come, first-served basis as well as vouchers for points if they already had a compatible tracking device.

With a day in-between events, Heath was pleased with the level of excitement from across the workforce. In the weeks following the launch, Heath and staff continued to strategically roll out the program, unveiling Health Stations and conducting 150 on-site presentations.

A New Culture Built Around Wellbeing

Virginia Beach enrollment continues to move toward their goal of 70% program participation in the first year, with nearly equal percentage participation between school and city employees.

Overall engagement remains strong, representing the top tier for government/education on the Personify Health platform. During the city and schools’ recent “Washington, D.C. Step Challenge,” more than 3,700 members competed in a virtual tour of the nation’s capital, averaging nearly 300 interactions throughout the month and compiling more than 582 million steps in the process.

Personify Health has had a dramatic impact on culture and morale as employees across all BMI categories. Seventy-six percent of participating Virginia Beach employees says they have changed behaviors as a result of the Personify Health program and 85% say they would be disappointed if they could no longer use the program.