PORTAL TO HEALTH: Carolyn O'Dell, human resource generalist at BankNewport, shows BankNewport's wellness website.
By Robin Respaut Contributing Writer
Employees at BankNewport are not just standing behind the teller counter anymore. They are walking.
Over a six-week period, 66 of the bank’s 275 workers together walked 3 million steps, or a total of 300 miles, to get healthier.
That is a company motivation at BankNewport, where “wellness is so critical to everything,” said Wendy Kagan, senior vice president and director of human resources.
If employees and their spouses participate in yearly health-risk assessments that measure things like blood pressure and cholesterol, their health care premium is reduced by 10 percent. In the first year of the wellness program, called Vitality, the participation rate floated at about 65 percent. This year, BankNewport staff jumped in with a whopping 92 percent sign-up rate. As a result, the bank sponsored healthy activities tailored to employees’ wellness needs, such as healthy cooking demonstrations, yoga and flex-and-stretch classes, bone-density screenings, smoking-cessation courses and flu-shot clinics.
BankNewport also reimburses its staff $200 a year for gym memberships, yoga classes or weight-maintenance programs such as Weight Watchers.
Kagan estimates that 50 percent or 60 percent of the company participates in the various wellness activities.
“Wellness is so critical to everything. If you have healthy employees, they are definitely more productive,” said Kagan. “And it’s a good financial decision. If you look at statistics – if you can prevent disease over the long term – it’s going to help with your health care expense. I think it makes people happier.” •