When Albuquerque Business First, a local business journal, named Rio Grande New Mexico’s Healthiest Mid-Sized Employer for the third year in a row, associates were honored and humbled—but not surprised.
Since the company first implemented its wellness program in 2006, upwards of 200 Rio employees and their families have worked to maintain healthier lifestyles, make better choices, and become more informed about physical activity, diet and nutrition, and preventive health care.
“Americans as a whole are becoming less and less healthy due to lack of exercise and poor eating habits,” notes Lisa Johnson, one of the leadership team members serving on the Rio Grande wellness committee. “And that means rising health care costs, which isn’t good for our company or our customers.”
After learning that wellness programs save an average of $3 for every dollar spent on the program, Rio Grande’s leadership instituted a company-wide initiative to provide associates more information and company-sponsored activities such as power walks and health & wellness fairs.
It paid off. Within five years, the company realized a return on its investment of $5 savings for every dollar spent.
Michael Harrison, videographer, joined the wellness program in 2012, but says he dramatically ramped up his level of participation this year.
For instance, he’s downloaded a couple of apps to help in his effort to kick up his fitness level. His current favorite is Fooducate, a scan feature that’s useful when grocery shopping.
“Say I’m looking at whole wheat bread,” he says. “Fooducate tells me if there is a healthier option, and provides information on what makes a healthier choice—less sodium, perhaps, or more fiber. So it educates me on what to look for in all my food decisions.”
Michael also notes that he’s taking advantage of everything Rio’s wellness program offers associates.
“I’m more focused on the comprehensiveness of the program,” says Michael, the man responsible for nearly all of the YouTube videos that help Rio customers hone their craft and build their jewelry-making skills. “I now take advantage of the articles that are posted, the company 5K runs and the monthly challenges. Even my wife, Jackie, gets involved by tracking her cardio and exercise logs.”
Michael also enjoys an ongoing, friendly competition with co-worker Jamie Gros, one of the company’s web programmers. The two view it as a way to keep them both motivated.
“Rio’s wellness program encourages us to make time to get to the gym,” Jamie agrees. “We both have young children, so it’s important to set a goal to be healthier. Otherwise, we would get busy with our families and our jobs—and not work out. We keep each other on track.”
Associates such as Michael and Jamie are the reason Rio Grande was awarded top honors in the mid-sized (100- 499 employees) category. It’s an important business focus for Rio.
“Our goal is to have a healthier, happier, more productive, and successful workforce while controlling our health care costs,” says Lisa.