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A CEO’s Aspiration to Create a Network of Support in the Workplace

Richard Davis - CEO of U.S. Bancorp

As chairman, president, and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, Richard Davis has made a personal commitment to create an environment that enables his employees to live healthier and happier lives by supporting changes in learned behavior, combined with a spirit of care.

“A CEO wakes up every day with so many things on their mind, but the most important one to me is that I am responsible for my employees – all 62,248 of them,” Davis told the Tennessee chapter of CEOs Against Cancer. “What we do in the offices of the company’s senior leadership affects all of their lives. CEOs Against Cancer is about action, courage, and doing something to positively affect the lives of our employees. I have a responsibility, and more motivation than ever, to do a better job for my employees because it matters to each of them as individuals, and, in turn, to all of us as an organization.”

The commitment and responsibility level of a company toward the health and wellness of its employees has changed dramatically in the last few years. “In 2005, I would’ve told you that employee benefits were nothing more than the required costs. But six years later, employee benefits are very different, and we are committed to workplace programs to incentivize good health and wellness,” Davis said. Employers and employee now share accountability for the goal of wellness.

Davis highlighted the return on investment of these workplace programs as a healthier and more satisfied employee base, one that will frequently report deeper employee engagement, greater individual well-being, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.

Davis has seen the power and responsibility of creating a network of support in the workplace. “I try to find the intangible that causes people to act differently when they’re among a network of support, working with others who care about them. It’s the universal and unconditional belief that we’re going to do better because we’re all working toward the same goal. As a CEO, one of our most important things is to create that environment for support.”

The key to wellness, according to Davis, is changing routines, which he described as learned and instinctive. “As leaders in the workplace, we need to create environments for learned behavior to change,” Davis said. “Learning new behaviors is what wellness is in the eyes of a CEO. If it were natural, it would be done by itself. But there’s no better place than the workplace to create new routines.”

Richard Davis was named the “2010 Executive of the Year” by the Twin Cities Business Journal and “2010 Banker of the Year” by American Banker. He is a member of the Minnesota Chapter of CEOs Against Cancer and served as co-chair of the 2011 American Cancer Society Corporate Impact Conference.