I grew up in a time well before cell phones and computers. In fact, when my friend next door got a “push-button” phone, it was AMAZING. Our daily activities included ball tag, kick the can, football games at the park, and walking or riding our bikes to school. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve noticed how easy it is for anyone to become less active. Work and family can demand more and more of our time and our lifestyle choices can shift. The pounds begin to add up, energy levels dwindle, and life’s tedious tasks take precedence over caring for our bodies.
At Rio, we started an adventure seven years ago to address the health and wellness of our associates and their families. It started as a program to reduce our rising medical insurance costs and, in the beginning, was a classic first attempt at a new program: It took some time to engage associates and build internal support. Over time, however, our Wellness Program has shown huge improvement and associate involvement has snowballed. In addition to reducing our insurance costs, we’ve benefited from the positive side effects of healthier associates, including increased productivity and less absenteeism. From the start, the program has had all the makings of a win/win situation.
The first couple years of the program were focused on enculturating the initiative and encouraging people to make healthy choices a habit. We partnered with an organization that specializes in corporate programs. A group of volunteer associates from across the company formed a committee that meets regularly to brainstorm and implement improvements to the program. Gift cards from local retailers were offered as ‘carrots’ to motivate associates. This worked well, but we knew we could do even better.
Turn the page to this year, our seventh Wellness year. The ‘carrot’ has grown and its usefulness has increased. Associates earn Wellness points to offset or completely eliminate their out-of-pocket contribution to insurance premiums. We’ve also continued to offer the gift card incentive! Participants earn points for completing activities such as: being in healthy ranges for blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol, being a non-tobacco user or quitting smoking, completing regular medical and dental exams, using safety precautions while driving a car or riding a bike, and engaging in regular cardio or strength training workouts.
Currently, the program has the participation of about 65% of associates and family members—an all-time high!
We’ve enhanced our activities, including individual and team challenges such as Biggest Loser (weight loss), Couch Potato to 5K (training for a free 5K walk/run event), and Spring Training (increasing fruit, vegetable and water intake and engaging in regular exercise). A full and exciting variety of challenges has led to greater participation.
Here are a few pictures from our recent 5K-walk/run event and annual Health and Safety Fair. The 5K meandered along the peaceful Rio Grande Valley, and the fair was right in our own courtyard.
As a feather in our cap, Rio recently won first place in New Mexico’s Healthiest Employers Challenge, a statewide corporate wellness competition. New Mexico Business Weekly, a New Mexico business periodical, hosted the challenge. Businesses were categorized by size: small, medium and large, and each employer was scored using the Healthiest Employer Index, which measures factors such as an organization’s wellness culture, strategy, communications, programming and analysis. Rio Grande placed first in the medium category. To learn more about New Mexico’s Healthiest Employers Challenge, check out the NMBW website.
What’s on the horizon for our Wellness program? Next, we’ll address the children of Rio associates. The plan is only in its “infant” stages now, but construction has begun! Our goal is to find the right balance of information and activities that will lead to healthier habits for our kids.
One thing’s for sure, Rio is more than a great place to work, it’s an organization with a concern for the health and well-being of its associates and their families.