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VisitPittsburgh Honored For Workplace Practice

Receives Best Practices Honor from American Psychological Association

Pittsburgh, PA - VisitPittsburgh, the official tourism promotion agency for Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh, will receive a Best Practices Honor from the American Psychological Association (APA) at the annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards ceremony on March 12 in Washington, D.C. VisitPittsburgh will be recognized for its efforts to encourage and reward employees for taking personal responsibility for their well-being. The ceremony will be broadcast live at 4.45 pm EST on March 12 at

"We are very proud to have been acknowledged for our efforts to provide our staff with a program that guides them toward a healthier lifestyle," said Joseph R. McGrath, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh. "Our Human Resources Executive Director, Mary Grasha-Houpt, and Highmark, our provider, have been instrumental in creating the program and inspiring staff to participate. Our successful wellness program is one part of our overall strategic efforts to holistically support and engage our employees through our collaborative atmosphere, work/life policies, and programs for employee involvement and career development."

VisitPittsburgh has demonstrated a commitment to its employees through its Lifestyle Returns wellness program. This practice is an example of a health and safety initiative, one component of a psychologically healthy workplace. VisitPittsburgh is one of nine organizations to receive the Best Practices recognition in 2011. The organization is a previous winner of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's state-level Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award, qualifying it to be nominated for APA's Best Practices Honors.

Lifestyle Returns has created a culture of wellness at VisitPittsburgh. Tailored to individual health needs, it identifies employees' health and lifestyle areas that need improvement, recommends ways to achieve healthier behaviors and tracks their progress online. Employees are rewarded for completing various steps with time off or cash awards.

The program was a success from the start, with 68 percent employee participation. In year two, 76 percent of staff had completed a portion of the program, and 47 percent had completed all five steps. As a result, employees have a higher level of job satisfaction and experience decreased stress and improved health and fitness. VisitPittsburgh benefits from fewer worker's compensation and disability claims, lower absenteeism and increased productivity.

"As we head into the economic recovery, employers who understand how a positive organizational culture and a healthy workforce can promote business success will have a distinct competitive advantage," says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, APA's assistant executive director for marketing and business development. "With a comprehensive wellness program that is customized to meet individual needs, VisitPittsburgh is creating a work environment where both employees and the organization thrive."

The Best Practices Honors is a national recognition that highlights those local Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winners with a single program or policy that contributes to a psychologically healthy work environment and meets the unique needs of the organization and its employees. Nominees come from a pool of previous local winners and are selected through a competitive evaluation and judging process.

More information about the Best Practices Honorees and APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winners is available at Organizations interested in learning more about creating a psychologically healthy workplace or applying for an award in their state, province or territory can visit


VisitPittsburgh is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists.