Wellness In The Workplace

Company Offering Health, Wellness Benefits To Employees

Healthier bottom lines don’t always mean healthier companies and employees. But at a time when companies are desperate to cut the fat, workplace wellness programs are often the first to go.

At PCL Construction, the nation’s seventh largest contractor, it’s the opposite. It is ramping up its wellness program.

“It is simply the right thing to do,” said Diana Canzona-Hindman, HR Manager of PCL Construction.

PCL Construction is ahead of the curve when it comes to wellness programs. It offers free flu shots, annual health care screenin -- done onsite, helps pay for smoking cessation treatments -- partially paid for, access to a nutritionist, lunch and learn sessions and up to a $200 annual reimbursement for a gym membership.

“When we launched that program you would have thought we would have given them a thousand dollars, they just thought that was the best thing in the world,” said Canzona-Hindman.

Just last month, President Barack Obama hosted a wellness gathering at the White House with top company executives, as well as union and public health officials, to learn more about such initiatives. He deemed the confab the start of an "ongoing process," and his advisers have already had a follow-up meeting with corporate and academic experts on the topic.

Other governmental leaders also have latched onto the issue. For instance, a bill making its way through the Senate would give tax credits to firms that offer wellness programs.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment is preparing to release a worksite wellness tool kit to help Colorado companies begin their own wellness programs.

“We are trying to coordinate resources for employers to look at changing the culture of their work environment to a place of healthier living,” said Eric Aakko, of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

Aakko said the programs can be done for a relatively low amount of money if desired.

“There are a number of things that don't cost a lot of money that can have a huge impact on employee wellness,” said Aakko.

PCL said it will take three to five years to see a monetary return on its investment, but said the real benefits are apparent now.

“Everyone is upbeat about exercising and getting fit and keeping their diet up and everything like that,” said Chris Tiritas, a 3D modeler with PCL Construction. “It’s been great.”

7News learned of this story through its partners at Colorado Biz. To read more about Colorado’s top companies to watch, check out the current issue of Colorado Biz.

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