Times have changed and many employers recognize that their employees’ health affects the productivity and performance of their company. Research shows that employee health directly influences work behavior, attendance and on-the-job performance, and healthcare costs. Seventy-six percent of American businesses report year-to-year healthcare cost increases as much as 10 percent. Surprisingly, the solution to the problem of rising health costs in business is quite simple; it consists of implementing means for employees to access health initiatives and taking measures to encourage these healthy choices. But how do we go about this implementation and encouragement?
PotashCorp, White Springs recognized the health disparities of their employees. The annual survey given through Interactive Health to employees interested in a discount on their health insurance premium showed that many White Springs employees had a risk for heart attack in the next ten years, some were tobacco users, average BMI was high, and some had metabolic syndrome. What exactly do these things mean for our company? According to the National Institute of Health, “metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.” With the average age of employees being in the older range and many employees at risk for a heart attack in the next ten years, this could be bad news for our healthcare costs and benefits. Risk of heart problems increases with age. The Corporate Health and Wellness Association reports that diabetics cost companies 2-3 times more than those with normal health. Tobacco users cost companies an average of $3800 more each year than other employees when it comes to healthcare.
The HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) Team was formed at PotashCorp, White Springs by employees interested in bettering their own health. In October 2016, the very first Annual Health Fair was held at the site’s conference center with 27 vendors and 111 employees and their family members. Employees participated in a biometric screening and had their stats recorded for personal knowledge. Hemoglobin tests and flu shots were also offered to employees and family members in attendance.
After the overwhelmingly positive response of the health fair, team members felt empowered to continue on to host other activities and events that could help to better the health of their coworkers especially at the start of a brand new year. The group began a 100 day weight loss challenge in which all employees were invited to weigh in at one of the site clinics. Participants weren’t left hanging after that though; the HEAL team set up boot camp opportunities with a fitness trainer, advertised a listing of all the activities available in surrounding communities, and even offered healthy meals at a First Friday Food for Thought Luncheon series. There were 86 participants that weighed in for participation in the competition.
Empowering our employees through education, support, activities, and wellness resources to live our best life!!!
After invitations from the HEAL Team, approximately 50 employees came together in April to participate in a “Corporate Cup” challenge. A non-profit organization hosted this event to promote “Get Fit Lake City” and PotashCorp was a major sponsor. This allowed coworkers to come together and participate in different fitness challenges against other local businesses. Employees competed in several different competitions including: sack race, 100-yard dash, volleyball tournament, dodgeball tournament, doubles ping pong, truck pull, and more. This event brought awareness to the community as well as to our employees that PotashCorp is committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle. PotashCorp teams weren’t the winner of the overall “Corporate Cup” but they were winners in other ways. Participants shared how this helped them to see coworkers in a different way, respect other’s strength and abilities, and to develop ideas of other ways to get active with coworkers. As a result, basketball and volleyball leagues are being explored.
The HEAL Team developed and mailed to each employee’s home, a “Wellness Benefits Guide” to make employees aware of all the resources available to them. The Intranet has been updated to include these benefits on the site’s HEAL page. Announcements are shared regularly throughout the site by email and home mailings to ensure all employees are aware of the health and wellness events happening at the site and surrounding areas. The team attempts to eliminate any excuses that employees might have for the lack of involvement in wellness activities.
What does the future hold for HEAL-ing White Springs? The HEAL Team continues to meet monthly. Healthy cooking classes, health camps, on-site fitness facilities, bicycle and walking trails, challenges, and so many other ideas are continually being developed by the Team. The HEAL Team members stay excited by the activities that they are a part of designing. However, if the percentages of employee health change in a positive direction, the HEAL Team will not only be able to show fun activities because of their existence, but also show that the activities they sponsor are helping company healthcare costs to decline. HEAL-ing White Springs will turn into a win-win situation for everyone!