From healthy selfies and a gratitude wall to healthy vending machines and even napping rooms, companies of all types are providing new and unique wellness offerings to their employees.
“It shows our employees that we care about their health and well-being, and it makes them more willing to come to work every day,” said Connie Ruehmer, a chemist and volunteer wellness program coordinator at PPG Industries Inc. in Oak Creek.
Plus, wellness initiatives provide a financial benefit for companies that are saddled with expensive health care costs.
“It’s been shown that if people use these (wellness) programs, they can lower their risks,” she said. “People have lost 50, 100 pounds because of a challenge we ran, and if that one person had a heart attack, it could cost the company tens of thousands of dollars. Instead, we paid $100 for a reward.”
Ruehmer said PPG has run five challenges this year, including a “Beat the Boss” fitness competition and a stress relief game in which employees strive to complete all 30 stress-reducing activities, like enjoying dinner with a friend or getting seven hours of sleep.
PPG also houses a 24-hour exercise facility, where groups often come in to do workout videos. It brings in a massage therapist every other week; and it holds preventative care screenings and health fairs.
“We really like to keep everyone engaged throughout the year,” Ruehmer said. “We do one to two things a month to make sure everyone’s still thinking about (wellness).”
Faith Technologies Inc., a Menasha-based company with 10 locations in Wisconsin, including Pewaukee, also boasts a variety of wellness offerings, such as the “Healthy Selfie.”
According to wellness program administrator Alyssa Kwasny, the healthy selfie is a four-month campaign currently underway in which employees and their family members post photos of themselves engaging in a healthy activity on the company’s Facebook page using #ftwellness. On a monthly basis, each individual who posted a photo gets entered in a prize drawing.
Other new Faith Technologies initiatives are Stretch & Flex and Sit for 60/Move for 3.
Kwasny said the former is a standardized stretching program that consists of 10 simple stretches that help participants get physically ready for the day. Since 80 percent of the company’s employees work in the field, Stretch & Flex is meant to decrease the risk of injuries.
The other program, Sit for 60/Move for 3, is geared toward the office employees who spend the day at their desks. After an hour of work, employees are encouraged to get up and move around the building, walk up and down the stairs, or do some stretches at their desks.
Long periods of inactivity can lead to such risks as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension, according to Kwasny. Employee survey results showed, however, that Sit for 60/Move for 3 resulted in an 11 percent decrease in those who spend four to five hours sitting; a 10 percent increase in those who spend one to two hours sitting; an 11 percent increase in those who are continually active; and a seven percent decrease in those who were sedentary before the program began.
Merchants Moving & Storage Co. in Racine has also seen significant results since implementing MoveWell, a program that was presented with the 2015 Healthy Connections Award earlier this fall at the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce awards dinner.
President Jennifer Eastman said the program started in 2013 after work injuries became “out of control” and workers’ compensation premiums were approaching $1 million.
“What we were doing wasn’t working, so we decided to take wellness and safety together and look at the person as a whole,” Eastman said.
To develop the program, Merchants Moving & Storage polled employees; hired a MoveWell coordinator, a part-time nurse and Racine-based Kane Communications Group; and worked closely with insurance agents. Eastman said the company invested about $100,000 in the program, but it is on track to make its money back on it by next year.
Components of the program include a healthy vending machine with choices like juice, oatmeal, protein bars and nuts; a no-smoking policy that now includes company property and trucks; team challenges; and required reading called the MoveWell Minute.
One of the biggest benefits of the MoveWell program, according to Eastman, is that the company’s MOD rate went from 1.22 at its highest to 1.02 next year, equating to $100,000 in workers’ compensation premium savings.
Another new, local wellness initiative currently taking place is the “wall of gratitude” at Menomonee Falls-based Bradley Corp.
For the month of November, employees are invited to jot down something for which they are grateful. The items can be as simple as the shining sun or a specific coworker, according to Caley Bohn, a human resources generalist specializing in wellness and benefits.
“Positivity spreads,” Bohn said. “It’s infectious, and when you are in a positive environment, you enjoy what you’re doing and the people you work with. When you’re happy at work, you go home and you’re happy.”
Another unique wellness initiative at Bradley is the “rejuvenation station.” According to Bohn, it is a small, stress-free room where employees can go during their breaks or lunch hours to decompress and take a few minutes to themselves.
Containing motivational quotes and core chairs, the rejuvenation station is also a place where employees can stretch and do quick meditation or yoga videos.
“Studies have shown that people are more productive on the workforce when they can step away from what they’re doing and take that mental break,” Bohn said.
“Movement increases blood flow to the brain, which increases productivity, creativity and positivity.”
Along those lines, Milwaukee-based Phoenix Investors LLC is planning to offer “napping rooms” in the 401 E. Kilbourn Ave. building it is moving into early next year in downtown Milwaukee.
Senior vice president of finance Ryan Trost said Phoenix Investors wants to give its employees the opportunity to recharge in order to become more productive. He anticipates employees using it a couple times a week for 20-minute “power naps.”
The two napping rooms will double as sports medicine and physical therapy suites, and Phoenix’s new office space will also feature a full gym and a yoga studio.
Lastly, lunch and learns on health and wellness topics like “Better Eating During the Holiday Season” are popular at companies like PPG and Milwaukee-based HellermannTyton, as are onsite exercise classes.
HellermannTyton human resources director Tim Jarecki said core fitness and yoga classes are frequently offered for a “nominal” fee per session, and Bohn said Bradley provides classes on topics such as stretch and flow about four times per week for $2 per class.
“We want to make sure that as people get older, they stay well,” said Jarecki of the company’s long-term employees. “Likewise, the new people coming into the workforce might not have good habits, and we want to put them in the right direction right away so as they become longer-term employees they are healthier employees.”