Employees crucial link in wellness planning

By Robin Respaut
Contributing Writer
The road to a healthy workplace starts the first day of work at The Beacon Mutual Insurance Co., when an in-house ergonomics professional helps new employees set up their workstations. More

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HEALTHIEST EMPLOYERS

Employees crucial link in wellness planning

PBN PHOTO/NATALJA KENT
MUTUAL EFFORT: Beacon Mutual Insurance ergonomic consultant Lori Wall, standing, shows nurse consultant Jennifer Nitanya Barlow, how to adjust an ergonomic chair.
By Robin Respaut
Contributing Writer
Posted 8/13/12

The road to a healthy workplace starts the first day of work at The Beacon Mutual Insurance Co., when an in-house ergonomics professional helps new employees set up their workstations.

From then on, workers are encouraged to participate in a deluge of health-oriented clinics, presentations and services, such as flu-shot clinics, nutrition counseling and weight-loss programs.

“Beacon is very committed to wellness, so much so that we’ve made it a part of our visions and values,” said Pamela Alarie, vice president of human resources.

An employee-run wellness committee, comprised of representatives from each department, is tasked with developing a budget, surveying the employees, and planning the more than 20 services, presentations and programs each year. The committee’s mission is to promote wellness in all of its forms: physical, mental and financial.

One recent program taught workers how to plant salad-garden boxes, using lettuce, tomatoes and herb seeds. Beacon invited a local farm to teach workers how to set up the garden boxes. “We were literally digging in the dirt,” said Alarie. “It was totally different than a PowerPoint presentation on how to grow a tomato.”

Each holiday season, Beacon encourages employees to participate in its Maintain Don’t Gain program, in which workers try not to gain any more than 3 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Last year, of the 39 workers who joined the program, 19 lost weight, 17 maintained and three gained more than 3 pounds.

Alarie said campaigns like these “don’t cost anything. [But] it helps us keep honest with ourselves.” •

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