ESC Lab Science's community garden encourages employees to work together, enjoy the outdoors and learn a new skill.
Each year, CBIZ partners with Edington Associates to recognize companies that are going the extra mile to provide the best workplace wellbeing programs to their employees. We recently sat down with Nicole Ott, HR Generalist at ESC Lab Sciences, to hear about what they’ve been working on since receiving their Next Practice Award for Operational Leadership in wellbeing in 2016.
How did your company’s wellness program get started?
Our CEO, Peter Schulert, has always been very health conscious and is into cycling, healthy eating and enjoying the outdoors, so we’ve already had some bits of the wellness puzzle in place. We’ve had an onsite gym, and once we started noticing a need for workplace wellness, we decided to formalize the program.
What started as an onsite gym grew into a flourishing, holistic wellbeing program, complete with a company community garden, walking trail, gym reimbursements and a company-wide dragon boat race each year. In particular, the garden sees regular foot traffic and attracts some newbies who are interested in learning how to garden. It gives people a chance to take a quick 15-minute break and enjoy being outside and in nature.
Have employees been receptive to the program?
Yes, participation continues to increase among our 300 employees. When our program first launched, it mostly attracted those folks already living a healthy lifestyle, but, we have been able to engage more employees and peek their interest by offering a wider range of programs and financial incentives. The current program allows participants to earn points for wellness activities that convert to real dollars added by our company to their health savings accounts, which caused participation to skyrocket.
Additionally, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all wellness program. We emphasize giving everyone the opportunity to earn points based on where they are in their personal journeys. We have support from leadership to be creative on programming and designing an environment that demonstrates our commitment, for examples, offering Vitamix blenders and Blue Apron subscriptions, and encouraging Ping Pong breaks.
How do you see the program evolving over the next five years?
The program has changed each year, but we’ve started to incorporate more technology into the program, such as using Fitbits to encourage walking. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see this has fostered a sense of friendly competition among the staff. As we look forward, we’ll work with our CBIZ consultants, including our dedicated wellbeing expert, Amy Howell, and vendor partners to analyze our aggregated health data to come up with ideas that fit the needs of our employees. We want to engage them in programs that are meaningful to them and build intrinsic motivation to sustain healthy habits.
Not to mention, I believe the word “wellness” is worn out – we are moving toward complete, holistic wellbeing. When you think “wellness,” many selectively consider health and fitness. But wellbeing encompasses all aspects of life, including financial, social, community and physical welfare. It’s vitally important that we emphasize more than just being physically healthy. We want our employees to engage in all aspects of wellbeing, whether it be cleaning up our local stream, attending financial wellbeing seminars or coming together to harvest honey from the beehive in our garden.
Technology is also going to play a role in the evolution of our program. We already have a portal that allows employees to track their points, see upcoming events, track personal information and check up on their position on event-specific leaderboards. It also streamlines communication to staff and alleviates a lot of administrative pressure. Tech will continue to be a major focus for us moving forward as we look to add programs, increase participation and engagement.
What aspect of your wellbeing program are you most proud of?
We’ve realized a great amount of positive change in our employees’ lives. We listen to our employees’ needs, celebrate their accomplishments and are grateful that so many have been successful in truly transforming their lifestyles.