Karla Brooks and Jessie Coffman-Riewe (also known as “Nurse Jessie”) of Green Bay are on a mission to bring happiness. They have separate, but connected businesses.
Coffman-Riewe owns Nurse Jessie LLC; Brooks owns Makes Me Happy LLC.
“I formed Nurse Jesse LLC with a mission to change the way health care interacts with the people we serve,” Coffman-Riewe said. “I’m also a business facilitator for It Makes Me Happy LLC. Karla is the founding creator of the business and loves creating content and programs, and I love bringing that content to life.”
The result of their collaboration is a program that changes the face of corporate culture by acknowledging the burnout and dissatisfaction that many workers face.
“We like to say, ‘Who doesn’t want to be happy?'” Brooks said. “We help people answer two questions, ‘Who are you? What makes you happy?’ And, rather than just talking about it in theory, we offer practical, science-backed tools to improve happiness levels.
She cites research from iOpener Institute in Oxford which compares the happiest employees with their least happy colleagues. The happiest take one-tenth the number of sick days; are six times more energetic; stay twice as long in their organization; and are twice as productive.
Statistics like these have HR departments trying to find ways to combat discontent. Brooks created a program called “Take the Trek Joy Journey, Impact Emotional Health and Culture” to meet this need.
The 12-month proprietary program includes three different “Joy Journeys” that businesses can choose from depending on how much support they want with program implementation. All include the use of “team champions”, employees within a company who are identified by human resources to bring the program to life.
“We’ve identified 12 areas of happiness and focus on one of them each month, from scents and scents to pets and hobbies,” Coffman-Riewe commented. “Participants receive videos, a workbook, emails, and prompts to identify their personal happiness and collaborate as a team each month.”
She says the program builds authentic relationships to help people connect with each other on a deeper level. This, in turn, leads to better workplace engagement and increased productivity.
The program and focus on corporate well-being, rather than small groups and individuals, shows how far they have come since one of their first encounters with Green Bay SCORE mentors about seven years. They continued to stay in touch with SCORE, especially mentor Bob Jahnke, and had other mentors as well.
Brooks has benefited from the help of Brand Builders Group and follows some of the wellness superstars. With this inspiration and the experience she acquired working full-time in strategic development, her vision for the company is one of strong growth.
“As the number of companies we work with grows, we will add more enablers,” Brooks said.
“Mental health is one of the top medical expenses for employers these days due to depression and anxiety,” she said. “And, going further, employers have a hard time recruiting people, so once they have them, they have to keep them. Employees select a company based on company culture.
Coffman-Riewe echoed this comment: “People are exhausted and alone. Important data is emerging on the power of emotions and human connection and their impact on health. As a nurse, it’s fascinating to see the mind-body-spirit connection play out in health outcomes and to be part of a positive solution in a world that can seem overwhelming.
Both believe the pandemic has heightened feelings of anxiety and heightened the need for intervention. Brooks says that if 50% of a person’s attitude is genetic and 10% is environmental, 40% is our attitude towards them and that’s the part that can be changed, regardless of negative events such as Covid crisis.
She gives an example of something she invented called the “15 second rule”. It is one of many techniques used by the program and is based on the Velcro/Teflon theory which says that our brain treats positive thoughts like Teflon and they disappear right away while negative thoughts tend to stick like Velcro.
“I used this science and came up with the 15-second rule to get people into a positive mode,” Brooks explained. “Focus on something that makes you happy for 15 seconds, and doing that consistently makes people happier. Stop and smell the lilacs; kiss him for 15 seconds. We can train our brain.
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and former district manager of SCORE, Wisconsin.