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Why Everyone Wins with Workplace Wellness Programs

By Lacy Ravencraft on March 28, 2012 in BlogNo Comments

Why Everyone Wins with Workplace Wellness Programs graphic

Honored as one of the Valley’s Healthiest Employers, Ewing joins Arizona companies in celebrating wellness programs and active lifestyles.   

PRIMG Misc Runner

A Ewing employee runs in a marathon in Phoenix, Ariz.

Ewing was recently recognized as one of the Valley’s Healthiest Employers by the Phoenix Business Journal.

The Valley’s Healthiest Employer award recognizes Phoenix-area companies for their outstanding efforts to cultivate a healthy workplace environment through a variety of wellness program options.

“Each year we build our momentum and participation by creating new programs that are staggered throughout the year to offer our employees an opportunity for engagement year-round,” said Kristina Gorham, director of human resources for Ewing.

Ewing’s wellness programs aim to inspire and empower employees to sustain healthy behavior by celebrating successes together in a variety of ways—an effort that often extends beyond employees to include their family members.

“We’re a family-owned company; a good wellness program helps reduce our expenses, but also helps keep our extended family together for the long haul. Our average tenure proves it,” said Gorham. “We want to keep nurturing and supporting programs that will reinforce our family atmosphere and commitment.”

At an event in March, Ewing’s wellness team joined other like-minded companies in welcoming a panel of experts to discuss how workplace wellness programs succeed.

What Makes a Wellness Program Successful?

A robust employee wellness program should be the engine a company uses to power its productivity, said Chris Hogan, panelist and president of Phoenix-based Benefit Commerce Group.

“Health improvement is a business strategy that measurably impacts your bottom line,” Hogan said. “A good program must incorporate both incentives and accountability to be successful.”

PRIMG Event Tempe Triathlon Sinacori

Ewing’s Chris Sinacori competes in a Tempe, Ariz., triathlon alongside coworkers.

Wellness programs are often measured by observing trends over time, such as the number of employee insurance claims, doctor’s office visits or participation in biometric screenings that measure body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol and stress. Other indicators used by companies include prescription costs and generalized biometric screening results.

An important indicator of success not to be overlooked are the personal life improvement stories of individual employees who have embraced positive behavioral changes to improve their health—a view all panelists shared.

Programs that are smart, specific, realistic and actionable are best, said Sarah Gentry, health promotion manager for CIGNA. Breaking down a larger wellness goal into a series of short-term goals is often more manageable for employees.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Offering a wide array of wellness programs to address all levels of employee readiness is essential in building a successful program. One company offered an intense “boot camp” style workout class for employees interested in a higher fitness level activity, as well as an employee walking group for moderate activity level minded employees.

Other honoree companies shared their wellness program successes, including the development and maintenance of a community garden, healthy cooking classes and the construction of an indoor walking path to keep employees active in Arizona’s high temperature summers.Some companies featured employee wellness success stories in their company newsletters, and others afforded access to regular coaching calls or on-staff fitness trainers and nutrition experts. Healthy recipe cookoffs, a healthy living calendar and a designated workout day were also among the fun and successful ideas shared. 

Embrace the Buddy System

PRIMG Event Tempe Triathlon Langhoff

Ewing employee Mallory Graham competes in a Tempe, Ariz., triathlon alongside coworkers.

Face-to-face participation is important and helps spread the word, said Bryan Armstrong, CEO of Naumann-Hobbs Material Handling, a 2012 Healthiest Employer Award recipient in the small business category.

“It’s contagious,” said Armstrong, advocating the idea of programs that promote face-to-face interaction and camaraderie, such as Weight Watchers® peer support groups or on-site yoga classes. “Celebrate your successes openly and frequently; the more you do that, the more people want to be a part of it.”

“Expand your programs to include family members,” said Kip Kipley, panelist and director of human resources for World at Work. Wellness programs that involve an employee’s family members are more likely to inspire employees to participate more often.

“Don’t underestimate grass roots efforts,” said Gentry. “Determine who your volunteer wellness champions are, and help support them.” Gentry has witnessed volunteer wellness champions organize and execute events ranging from healthy potlucks to flag football games.

Having a robust corporate wellness program also helps in the employee recruitment process, noted Hogan, whose company offers a full service on-site gym and two full-time trainers. He’s found that the more vibrant and successful your program is, the greater the likelihood of attracting like-minded people to your organization.

Ewing & Wellness

Ewing promotes wellness weekly through company newsletters, offers an online employee wellness center, and actively promotes programs offered through carefully selected health provider partners. Ewing wellness programs have included biometric screenings, a Biggest Loser Weight Loss Challenge, and the 10,000 Steps-a-Day program. Ewing further reinforces its commitment to healthier and more active lifestyles by bringing in fitness and nutrition speakers, selecting healthier menus during company events, offering yoga classes and more.

Ewing Irrigation Annual Wellness Event

Team Ewing employees from across the U.S. pose for a group photo after completing a marathon and 1/2 marathon event in Phoenix, Ariz.

Running for Health, for Hope, and for Autism

One of the most effective tools Ewing uses to promote and encourage a healthier and more active lifestyle year-round is the company’s annual participation in the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and ½ Marathon.

Ewing’s involvement with this event began in 2005, and has become an annual tradition focused on enhancing employee camaraderie while promoting fitness, nutrition, personal growth and balanced, healthy lifestyles. For the last eight years, Ewing has sponsored employees and family members nationwide, paying for airfare, race entry, accommodations and meals for participating employees.

Employee participation has increased exponentially over the years, growing from 50 employees in 2005 to 330 participants in 2011. Ewing’s model of a corporate team challenge inspired event organizers to create the official “Get Fit Challenge,” a competition designed to promote health, fitness and camaraderie in the workplace while competing with other companies to bring the most people to the finish line. Team Ewing has won the Get Fit Challenge in its team category almost every year since the program’s establishment in 2007.

This trend continues to increase, with more employees returning each year to participate in the event, and many moving up to complete the full marathon. Ewing also offers full training programs, tips and related information to help employees train—including access to two of the company’s Team Ewing coaches.

In addition to boosting morale internally, Ewing employees—with the help of a corporate matching program—have raised more than $125,000 for Autism Speaks™ to date, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

Companies nominated for the Healthiest Employer award are assessed by Indianapolis-based Healthiest Employer LLC and measured in six key categories: Culture and Leadership Commitment, Foundational Components, Strategic Planning, Communication and Marketing, Programming and Interventions, and Reporting and Analysis.

Ewing earned its first Healthiest Employer award in 2011, and continues its efforts to support and promote healthier choices and more active lifestyles throughout its network of 185 branches in 21 states.

Valley’s Healthiest Employers (2012)

Top Ten – Small Business Category (2-250 employees)

Top Ten – Medium Business Category (251-1,499 employees)

Top Ten – Large Business Category (1,500 + employees)

Lacy Ravencraft photo
Lacy Ravencraft
Author Lacy Ravencraft, CLIA, is a former Director of Marketing & Communication for Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply.
TAGS: Wellness
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