Phillips proves wellness is good business decisionAs the nationwide trend toward employee wellness programs grows, New Richmond businesses are jumping on the bandwagon.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
As the nationwide trend toward employee wellness programs grows, New Richmond businesses are jumping on the bandwagon.
For a number of years, Phillips Plastics Corp., located in the New Richmond Business and Technical Park, has been ramping up its wellness initiatives to benefit both their employees’ health and their business’s bottom line.
Phillips is self-insured for its health insurance coverage, and the healthier their employees are the lower health insurance premiums drop. Healthy and active employees are also proven to be more productive, which is another argument for implementing wellness efforts.
According to Kay Thompson, administrative assistant and chairman of Phillips Plastic’s local wellness committee, the company has been taking more steps to encourage employees to make healthier choices.
“Phillips is pretty health conscious. Every year we just keep adding a little bit more,” Thompson said. “If it keeps our health care costs down, it’s better for our employees and it’s better for us.”
The wellness effort at Phillips is two-fold. The corporation offers programs to benefit overall employee health, while each individual production facility has its own wellness projects.
On the corporate level, Phillips promotes a regular health and wellness fair, where employees can have their blood pressure, cholesterol level and weight checked. Flu shots are also provided at the fair. For employees who agree to participate, each person gets a discount on their required health insurance premium match.
Phillips also provides employees with a nursing hotline, which people can call to ask health-related questions. The corporation also offers a disease management program that assists employees with chronic health issues to better control their illnesses.
Phillips provides an employee assistance program as well, helping people deal with stress and mental health issues.
At the local Phillips plant, wellness committee members have sponsored several special events to help employees get healthier.
Mary Jo Brunner, nutritionist with Family Fresh Market in New Richmond, has offered health and nutrition educational seminars for employees and then kicked off weight-loss challenges that about a third of the employees took advantage of. Employees lost hundreds of pounds during the competitions.
“Our plant manager lost 36 pounds all by himself, and he’s kept it off,” Thompson reported.
Employees get weekly encouragement to achieve their goals, as special incentive prizes are offered throughout the program.
Brunner said the success of the Phillips wellness efforts has prompted more and more employees to decide to participate in the program.
“When co-workers see what my participants have done for themselves, they are interested in participating,” she explained.
The educational aspect of the program also is a bonus, she said, as employees learn about nutrition and exercise.
“I am working to educate others,” she said. “I am empowering them to change their lifestyles and eat better. Throughout the classes I give them the tools to do so.”
The local industrial facility also promoted a walking challenge this past summer. For those employees who walked at least eight miles over 13 weeks, each received a t-shirt or cap, and their name was included in a drawing for eight additional hours of vacation. There were weekly drawings conducted as well, giving employees an incentive to keep up their walking.
Employees were encouraged to walk during their lunch break or after work.
“Three times around our facility is a mile,” Thompson said.
Phillips officials also marked off a half-mile stretch along a nearby trail for employees to use for a round-trip, one-mile trek.
Healthy foods have also been a part of the local business’ effort.
Thompson said the facility offers fruit for sale in their lunchroom, to provide an alternative to candy bars and chips sold in vending machines.
“It encourages people to eat better,” Thompson said.
The business also promotes occasional employee dinners, such as a salad or sandwich bar, which offers healthy food choices.
“People love that,” Thompson said. “Any time they can get food, they like it.”
A free blood pressure cuff and hospital-grade scale are installed on site so employees can check their health measures at any time.
None of the wellness efforts is heavy-handed, requiring employees to participate, Thompson noted.
“It all just teaches you about foods and exercise, but then we let them make their own decisions,” she said.
For more information on employee wellness efforts, email Brunner at mary.bru email@example.com.