A Fit And Healthy Work Environment
Like many working mothers, Shani Silva wanted to squeeze more fitness into her busy schedule. So she talked to her boss, ALTRES president Kerry Kopp, about starting an exercise program at their office. He liked the idea, and with the help of Debbie Padello, director of operations of simplicityHR, they created an extensive corporate wellness program that has resulted in a company-wide total loss of more than 500 pounds and 90 inches off waistlines in about a year at ALTRES and simplictyHR.
“Our conversation quickly went from simply hiring an on-site personal trainer to taking a much more holistic approach to good health, focusing not just on fitness, but overall health and well-being,” explains Silva, industrial staffing manager at ALTRES Staffing. “We wanted our program to be about the whole person — mind, body and spirit.”
The program includes monthly lunch and learn classes, aimed at helping employees make better health choices. Topics include stress relief, signs of sleep apnea, financial wellness, caring for aging parents and more.
The company also built a state-of-the-art fitness center at its Honolulu headquarters (where there are about 160 employees) that is open from 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, allowing employees to get in a workout before, during and/or after work. Equipped with cardio machines and weights, dual showers and complimentary grooming amenities, there also is a personal trainer available, as well as boot-camp and fitness classes throughout the week. ALTRES also pays for the first three months of personal training for each employee.
Lunchrooms have been converted to house-healthy food programs, including displayed refrigeration stocked with healthy snack choices and premade healthy meals that can be purchased (on an honor system). These meals can range from grilled chicken breast with sweet potatoes and vegetables, to flank steak with quinoa and grilled vegetables or stuffed meatloaf with spinach and onions, along with potatoes and vegetables.
“The meals are basically 350 calories or less, and have the right protein, fat and carb ratio,” explains Silva.
As part of the Spirit component, the company finds opportunities for its employees to give back to the community, such as participating in a mobile blood bank drive, selling newspapers on PACT’s Keiki Day, adopting rubber ducks for United Cerebral Palsy’s Rubber Duckie Race, signing up for a charity run/walk and more.
“As managers, one of the big discussions we have is productivity,” adds Kopp. “Most people think giving people some flexibility to participate in a workout or bootcamp during the day is that nobody is going to get any work done. But we’ve had a really phenomenal opposite effect, in that people became more energized. It created this huge energy in the middle of the day because now they got an opportunity to do this. They feel good about themselves. Their endorphins were increased.
“Also, the group workouts broke down the siloing (between departments) and allowed people to get to know one another, which improved internal relationships and increased working together and productivity. Actually I think productivity has gone up.”
In addition to noticeable weight loss among co-workers, Kopp notes that at least four or five employees have shared that their improved health has allowed them to stop taking certain medications. He also notes that employee participation in the corporate wellness program is well above 90 percent.
“What’s really interesting is, when you surround yourself with people who are looking at eating a little healthier or participating in a Lunch and Learn or bootcamp, people start adopting it and it kind of filters and has this ripple effect,” says Kopp.