Fitness classes, exercise equipment, incentive programs, nutrition information, health screenings – sound like the offerings at a local fitness club?
Au contraire – these are just a few of the things local companies are offering employees to keep their workforces healthy.
Studies, such as those conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show that a healthy employee is a productive employee. That’s just one of the reasons why central Ohio companies like these are giving their staff more and better opportunities to maintain health, wellness and nutrition.
Mount Carmel Health System
As a medical management company – it oversees four central Ohio hospitals, as well as a freestanding emergency department and a variety of surgery centers, outpatient facilities, doctors’ offices and community outreach sites – Mount Carmel is in a good position to understand the importance of healthy employees.
To that end, the company provides a sizable assortment of health and fitness options for employees, as well as an incentive program to further encourage the use of those opportunities.
Fitness classes such as yoga, strength training and Zumba are offered on-site at most hospitals, many through a partnership with the YMCA. Employees are welcome at all classes – access to all costs $30 per quarter – and they are rotated among off-site facilities each quarter to ensure equal access.
An on-site fitness center with cardio equipment, a weight room, resistance bands, a mid-size fitness room and more is available at Mount Carmel’s corporate office in east Columbus. Employees pay $5 via a paycheck deduction to use it.
The company also offers a walking program, free flu vaccinations, Weight Watchers programs, a task force to help staffers learn how to safely lift patients, information sessions and financial health seminars. Screenings – blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, body mass index and more – are offered as well.
At the beginning of 2013, Mount Carmel enters the next phase of its corporate wellness program: the Live Your Whole Life Wellness Rewards program, offering incentives to employees who make efforts to maintain their health.
“It’s incentivizing people for making healthier decisions and providing rewards for those decisions,” says Tara Howard, Total Rewards (benefits) manager for Mount Carmel.
Employees earn points for doing certain things – using the fitness facility, signing up for classes, attending lectures, undergoing the new quarterly metabolic health screenings, etc. – and can redeem those points for wellness-centered prizes such as workout gear, hats, gloves and pedometers. About 20 percent of employees participate in Live Your Whole Life now, and Howard hopes the added incentives will significantly boost participation.
Individual success stories as a result of the company’s offerings are common, Howard says. She has seen employees increase physical activity, lower blood pressure, reduce necessity for medication, create meal plans and detect disease and disorders early.
“We had one associate who lost over 50 pounds by joining the walking program and is now a cheerleader at their campus for the walking program,” says Howard. “I had somebody who was so into the wellness … that they started a wellness ministry at their church.”
Honda of America Mfg., Inc.
Right next to the main manufacturing facility on Honda’s Marysville campus is the Watson Wellness Center, the hub of all things health-related at the company since 1985.
Highlights of the wellness center – membership costs $24 per year for the employee and his or her family – include a spinning room, an aerobics room, a children’s area, a massage therapy room, a standard fitness room loaded with weights and cardio equipment, a 25-meter swimming pool, a gymnasium with basketball hoops and a physical therapy room. Outside, the campus has a recreation park with two baseball diamonds, two tennis courts, two sand volleyball courts, a fishing pond, shelter houses and a variety of walking paths.
Employees also have the opportunity to participate in Destination Wellness, Honda’s incentive program. The program, which enjoys 86 percent participation among employees, is tied to the company’s benefits plan.
“Once the associates understand what we’re trying to do, they want to be engaged in it,” says Ron Lietzke, assistant manager of media relations.
Employees earn points for engaging in wellness-directed activities – educational, preventive and physical activity. If they accumulate enough, they can enter the company’s Active Healthcare plan. The company’s standard health plan pays for everything up to a certain amount per year, after which a small deductible kicks in, and the Active Healthcare plan doubles that initial amount.
Services also abound at the center – personal training, dietician consultations, group exercise classes (spinning, Zumba, yoga, etc.), nutrition classes, instructive courses to maintain physical safety on the job and more. And for employees whose lengthy commutes make use of the on-site facilities a challenge, Honda works with the YMCA and local hospitals to offer off-site options.
Though fitness is a big piece of the Honda puzzle, prevention is also important. Thanks to the incentive program and awareness efforts – not to mention the fact that the company pays 100 percent of the cost of physical exams – the percentage of employees who have gotten an annual physical exam has climbed from 17 percent in 2006 to 75 percent in 2011, the last year for which data was available.
“We’re helping them understand more about their health and getting them more engaged in how (they can) be healthier,” says Joelyn Ridder, staff administrator for health and productivity.
Improved employee productivity, low turnover and minimal health care cost increases are just some benefits the program has brought the company. And employees have seen great success, too. One dropped 115 pounds thanks to a weight loss program called Team U-Turn.
Others have discovered cancer early thanks to the company’s emphasis on preventative care.
The dancers aren’t the only people encouraged to stay healthy at BalletMet.
The organization has no official corporate wellness program, but what it does have is a series of fitness classes at its central Ohio facilities. Those classes are available to the public for a fee.
“Any employee at BalletMet is welcome to take any open dance class for free,” says Chris Rogers, managing director of the BalletMet Academy.
As might be expected, many of the fitness offerings incorporate dance.
“We have dance forms, in which people can not only enjoy the music and the movement, but also receive a workout,” Rogers says.
In addition to ballet, the offerings include modern dance, musical theater dance, tap, jazz, hip-hop and even flamenco.
Others – such as Dance, Move, Stretch, offered through The Ohio State University’s JamesCare for Life – use dance as a means to an end. The class “is a fabulous blend of dance and stretching, which is for balance, core strength and flexibility,” says Rogers. Zumba is another such option.
Three levels of Pilates and one level of yoga are also offered, as is a bar fitness class, which incorporates the ballet bar for strength and flexibility training as well as some yoga and stretching.
BalletMet offers the classes at its main office in downtown Columbus, as well as its studios at Reynoldsburg High School and the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington.
Though employees sometimes have a tough time fitting a workout into their daily schedules, the classes enjoy a respectable level of participation from staffers and their families, Rogers says. And that makes for more capable employees.
“It gives people the opportunity to learn how to handle things like stress, and of course every business has lots of stress,” she says. “Even though they’re at work, they can take themselves out of work.”
Rogers has read studies that dance classes in particular – as opposed to the standard trip to the gym – improve decision-making capabilities and keep connections clear in the brain. And it can also bring good feelings to people who danced when they were younger but have since fallen out of practice.
“Dance is a wonderful thing, and you’re never too old to start to enjoy it,” says Rogers.
Success stories aren’t limited to BalletMet employees – Rogers remembers a college student who used the classes to get back in dancing shape and continues to lose weight.
A number of BalletMet Academy teachers use the fitness classes to stay in teaching shape, Rogers says.
Garth Bishop is editor of CityScene Magazine. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.