Walking the Talk Pays Dividends for Cheshire Employer

For many small employers, measuring their return on investment (ROI) in health and wellness programs in the workplace is a matter of intuition and faith. While there’s a vast measurement pool for large employers, detailed, long-term studies are not yet readily available for small companies, especially those with fewer than a dozen employees. But there is now a growing library of anecdotal case studies and examples that demonstrate clear returns on time and resources invested in employee wellness. And over the coming decade, more specific measurements are likely to document what most of us already know:  Investing in our employees’ health and wellness improves morale, service, and productivity, and reduces healthcare costs.

The following profile is just one example of how investing in wellness makes a difference.

When Joanne Couceiro heard her company — Hobson Associates, a national executive recruitment organization based in Cheshire — was going to participate in CBIA’s wellness program, CBIA Healthy Connections, she was happy. When she heard that her employer would appoint her as wellness champion to help manage wellness efforts and employee involvement, she was thrilled.

Couceiro, who does marketing and sales support, was already on the fitness bandwagon. She had a personal trainer, and was working to become a Certified Group Fitness Instructor. The president of the company, Danny Cahill, also was deeply committed to fitness and wellness, and wanted his staff to have every opportunity to pursue healthy lifestyles.

“We’re ‘doers,’ working in a fast-paced, high-energy culture, constantly going with little ‘down time,” Couceiro explains. “Danny is a health buff and advocate, and wanted his team to learn more about exercise, diet and overall wellness. This was a perfect fit for us.”

A broad cross-section of Hobson’s staff, which ranges in age from 20 to 60, joined fitness classes coordinated and taught onsite by Couceiro. She created an alternating high- and low-impact aerobics step and weight-lifting class, which meets twice a week, and then added a ‘fitness boot camp’ class, as well. Employees meet after work in Hobson’s large training and conference room, averaging eight employees in each class.

Couceiro also encouraged the entire team to complete their online Health Assessments and become better engaged in a comprehensive wellness mentality. Their boss, she stresses, was right there beside her, cheering on his staff.

“We’re a family here,” says Cahill. “You can’t force people to focus on their health, but you can be encouraging and offer them opportunities. These classes help with team building, boost morale and, ultimately, increase productivity. We’re changing attitudes and the spillover effect has been terrific — it’s making a difference.”

Cahill conducted a seminar on nutrition and healthy eating, and also sponsored an onsite wellness clinic to test blood pressure, cholesterol, and to establish baseline measurements for body fat. The team discussed the risks associated with sugar and salt, tobacco, and alcohol use. Those who were interested established personal goals — whether weight loss, smoking cessation, or a commitment to regular exercise — with support and encouragement from their fellow staff members.

Cahill is convinced this commitment to wellness — supported in the workplace as well as in employees’ personal lives — is paying back in spades. “We’re changing attitudes, demonstrating that we care, and showing respect for individuals,” he says. “There’s a lot of confusing, paradoxical information out there on health and wellness, which we’re trying to clarify. Joanne’s classes are popular, with strong educational, physical, and collegial aspects that also promote teamwork and improve camaraderie. On the job, call levels are high even at 3:00 p.m, a traditionally difficult time block for generating higher energy and increased production. This has been and continues to be a good solution for us.”

To reap the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!