Posted by: jmwilsonmga | September 13, 2011

An Apple A Day? 5 Steps on Our Road to Corporate Wellness

New Hope Health Lunch & Learn at J.M. Wilson

With the occurrence of health challenges increasing on a national level and insurance costs skyrocketing, it has become imperative to be proactive about our health not only as individuals, but as a company.

Wendy Ballast, Human Resources Manager for J.M. Wilson, states “Corporate wellness programs and their success are a highly debatable subject.  What we have found at JM Wilson is that it’s best to start small, encourage softly, and reward participation.  If our wellness program improves employee health just 1% this year, it will mean a savings of $40,000 at health care insurance renewal.  What is truly shocking is the rate at which health insurance premiums are rising-which is in direct correlation with employee health (and claims).  When we were faced with a 67% increase this year, we literally went back to the drawing board.  Adding a wellness initiative was part of the strategy because, as a company in business to make a profit, we had to look at every angle in assisting our employees to live healthier lives to keep the premiums at a manageable level.”

We have made it one of our missions to create and cultivate a healthy active corporate culture.

In 2005, when I began my career, it was commonplace to see donuts, bagels, and all types of desserts available for a hungry snacker at any hour of the day.  Chocolate cake for breakfast?  No problem!  Overflowing candy dishes? Yes please!  As we (a country, a community, and a company) became more aware of our health and what we are putting into our bodies, we took the initiative to make a change in our corporate culture.  When we eat better and move more, we are not only happier, but more productive in the workplace and at home.

Making this change wasn’t easy.  Like caffeine withdrawal or any other “drug”, getting off the sweets and fatty foods can be tough.  Following are the steps we took to begin our cultural change;

  1. The Snack Station is Closed : We started by eliminating the 24/7 snack tables.  We understood that this may not be a popular decision at first, so we started by making it a little less convenient to get to those foods.  By moving all snacks to a break room downstairs, it helped to eliminate the ease at which you could grab a cookie as you walked by or another piece of candy.  Surprisingly enough, this really helped!  Eventually, the amount of snacks brought in went down.
  2. Wanna Walk? We began offering walking and running training programs for people to train to walk or run a 5K event.  Several of our associates are active athletes, competing all types of events from 5Ks to marathons and duathlons, so we let them lead us and share their expertise.  We even scheduled times for groups to meet after work hours to walk/run together. Additionally, J.M. Wilson sponsored associates to compete in capstone events like the Kalamazoo Klassic (a 5K/10K walk and run) and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (a 5K walk).  Giving associates a goal to aim for and motivation to get there.
  3. Spread the Word : We created a Wellness Newsletter which is lead and created by Jessica Garcia, Claims Supervisor (and Exercise Class Instructor).
    • “Here at J.M. Wilson, we do a bi-monthly Wellness Newsletter, each issue features a healthy recipe as well as cardiovascular and/or weight workout.  The feedback is that our associates enjoy having healthy recipe options!  In addition we have done a version of the Biggest Loser, a cycling class and 15 minute Ab attack class.  We try to keep a variety of options to capture interests of as many associates as we can!” (Jessica Garcia)
  4. Group Challenges:  We implemented several weight loss challenges, including a Biggest Loser Challenge (based off of the popular television program), a Body For Life Challenge, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Win By Losing Program.  Each had program support from Jessica Garcia, Claims Supervisor.  Additionally, we promote activity through bi-weekly low-cost Pilates Classes, no cost Ab Classes on breaks, and a low-cost after work spinning class.  All associates are invited to attend!
  5. Lunching & Learning : We looked for expert assistance when creating our Lunch & Learn series.  We hired Dr. LeAnn from New Hope Health, who is a naturopathic doctor, to host monthly Lunch & Learn Seminars.  We used an internal anonymous survey to determine what health issues our associates wanted to learn about and tailored our Lunch & Learns around those topics.  We have covered everything from Packing a Healthy Lunch to How to Increase Your Energy.  While delivering this excellent information, Dr. LeAnn provides a healthful organic lunch for those in attendance.  This is at no cost to our associates!  It has been a success and has introduced us to many new ways to be healthy and mindful eaters!

Do you have a corporate wellness program at your agency?  What do you do to promote wellness?  We would love to hear your ideas!

About The Author : Kristin O’Leary, Marketing Research Coordinator

Kristin has been a proud member of the J.M. Wilson Marketing Team for over five years and currently serves as the Marketing Research Coordinator.  She graduated from Western Michigan University in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing.  Outside of the office, she enjoys running, working with her family at their pet supply store, and spending time with her husband and their Miniature Schnauzer, Vinny.

Connect with Kristin on LinkedIn!

Disclaimer :  This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or proffered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions taken or not taken by the readers based upon such information.  This article is the opinion of the author and is not supported or endorsed by J.M. Wilson.  It should not be relied upon and may contain inaccuracies or content may have changed over time, contact your underwriter for the most current and accurate information.  Any comments or responses are the opinions of their authors.  Content on this site is believed to be covered under Fair Use.

Copyright 2011 J.M. Wilson Corporation


  1. […] committed to creating a culture of wellness.  Some of our long time blog readers may remember our post on how began our corporate wellness journey, since that time we have continued to expand and enhance our wellness offerings to […]

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