The images from the 1970s and ’80s of Japan’s car workers standing en masse exercising at the start of their workday are vivid reminders symbolizing the pinnacle of a nation’s economic might and attitude toward employee health and productivity.
Toray Plastics (America) Inc. in North Kingstown, whose parent company, Toray Industries Inc., hails from Japan, doesn’t expect its 586 employees to do jumping jacks outside at 7 a.m. Its approach has been more subtle.
Toray’s compensation and benefits manager, Laura Marks, says the company’s health efforts come under the banner of corporate/social responsibility.
“It touches on subjects such as the environment, corporate ethics and safety. Health is an offshoot of this,” she said. In this general picture, health is an integral piece though its focus is more widespread. “We are concerned with our employees’ health just as much as the health of employee families and the community,” said Marks.
The Education and Wellness Center at the plant is a state-of-the-art gym, indoor pool, sports area, and health-and-fitness-assessment center. To Marks, however, it represents much more than a place to exercise.
“With work being a big part of life, one thing which is vital is Toray’s benefit programs. They are top notch,” meaning that Toray’s in-house philosophy on its staff’s health and happiness is designed to reach far beyond its walls, she said. •