“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” – Plato
Studies show that good health practices at work create a more productive and efficient environment – one with higher workplace morale and less absenteeism. The 15 organizations recognized this year as Healthiest Companies of Southwest Washington are certainly proof of that.
On Tuesday, the Vancouver Business Journal held the 2016 Healthiest Companies of Southwest Washington Awards Reception and Showcase at Warehouse ‘23, in partnership with Clark County Public Health.
The reception included a presentation from Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Public Health director (pictured with each award recipient below), and a keynote address from Ron Sims, chair of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board.
13 local businesses and two nonprofit/public sector organizations were recognized at the event for their commitment to employee wellness.
Award recipients and finalists in each category are:
Healthiest Company – Public Sector/Nonprofit
Award recipient: Fort Vancouver Regional Library
With a more than 60 percent participation rate in their wellness program, the Fort Vancouver Regional Library (FVRL) takes advantage of incentives offered by its insurance provider – Kaiser Permanente – to maximize their healthy employee impact.
FVRL’s formal wellness committee meets at least quarterly to organize promotions, programs, print and electronic communication that engages and encourages the entire team from Woodland to Vancouver and Washougal to Goldendale. Committee members also man a ‘Wellness Table’ at their annual Employee Benefits Fair to share and educate attendees on the many healthy incentives and opportunities available and on-site flu shots are offered throughout the day.
Sherry Braga, FVRL volunteer coordinator and wellness committee member, said, “At our 2015 All Staff Training Day we had many opportunities for wellness with sessions of Yoga at Work, Hula Hoopla, Burn Out or Bounce Back, a Smokin’ Salmon Walk and a Labor and Industries demonstration of office ergonomics. We had 117 staff (out of 200 attending) choose these sessions.”
A monthly birthday/anniversary potluck located at the FVRL headquarters is another opportunity to focus on healthy food options instead of the traditional sugar-laden buffet selection of the past.
Both sedentary and active jobs can be found within the organization so FVRL is committed to supplementing annual gym members for its staff; their HQ provides on-site yoga classes during lunch hours; and a work out area can be found there, as well.
Through Kaiser, FVRL participates in their Healthy Trails initiative which encourages employees to set physical fitness and nutritional goals as a team or individual and earn weekly prizes along the four to six week journey. All participants are awarded one hour of paid leave to use during the remainder of the year.
“A wonderful side effect of this initiative is that, after the event, there were sustained walking groups and workout buddies beyond just the competition,” said Braga.
Finalist: Clark County Food Bank
The Clark County Food Bank (CCFB) takes its vision to inspire and grow a network of community health a step further – by beginning at the workplace to instill these habits in staff who then become an empowered voice within their own network.
CCFB has observed that companies who invest in their employees’ mental and physical health are taking proactive steps to decrease the cost of healthcare over the long haul.
Through a host of effective programs, CCFB can boast 63 percent employee participation in their wellness initiatives. A two-level exercise program allows staff to choose the involvement that works best for their lifestyle and physical needs; holistic wellness seminars focus on nutrition, finances, physical health, emergency preparedness and cooking demonstrations and tips; a bike rental program for AmeriCorps team members on a rotating 10½ month term; ‘produce share’ which encourages staff and volunteers to bring in excess produce throughout the growing season to share with co-workers; and the healthy snack shack – focusing on healthy snack alternative like apples, nuts and granola bars for staff members.
Recognizing that not everyone is motivated by club memberships, CCFB encourages employees to ‘enjoy their world’ by reimbursing them for a variety of wellness expenses such as running shoes, entry fees to a race and running shorts; a Washington Discovery Pass, hiking boots and weather gear; bicycle repair, race fees and cycling jerseys.
Healthiest Company – Small Employer
Award recipient: Lacamas Counseling
Through a comprehensive, point-by-point vision plan, Vancouver’s Lacamas Counseling enjoys 100 percent employee participation in their wellness program.
Truly drawing from their strengths as cognitive and emotional professionals, the team uses these assets for in-house health as well as the health of their patients.
They foster an environment of emotional, physical, interpersonal and vocational health. The office space is geared toward movement through standing desks, group walks during breaks, peer accountability with fitness and exercise and an emphasis on involving family members to be a part of the process.
Lacamas encourages meal preparation and healthy eating by providing a lunch room and kitchen in an effort to reduce dependency on fast food meals.
There are also team-building activities and an annual camping trip in August that emphasizes a culture of adventure.
Supporting one another professionally is encouraged through brainstorming sessions regarding cross-training opportunities, attendance at professional events and networking as a group.
Even aesthetics are taken into consideration as a way to uplift employee morale. Lacamas takes great care in providing a clean office environment with ample windows for natural light that is particularly important during the darker, longer days of winter.
Finalist: Northwest Personal Training
As a company whose job it is to promote health, Northwest Personal Training walks its talk. Boasting 100 percent employee participation, a healthy lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with working at Northwest.
All employees receive complimentary group training membership for themselves and one immediate family member; can enter races, fun runs and triathlons for free; may attend training and specialty events such as their Hiking Club and Triathlon Training clinics; paid time off after one year of employment is afforded to all staff; health insurance premiums are employer-supplemented; and employer-led continuing education and monthly workshops are complimentary over and above each employee receiving $200/year for continuing education.
By offering such a comprehensive package of health incentives, Northwest Personal Training retains a fit and vibrant team that inspires the community and members to pursue an active lifestyle. According to owner Sherri McMillan, this not only produces visible physical benefits, but reduces stress, promotes concentration and encourages greater confidence in all facets of life.
Finalist: Sweet Spot Skirts
With a focus on encouraging women, Sweet Spot Skirts has been designing and manufacturing what they like to call “flirty and practical skirts” in downtown Vancouver for six years now.
In their uplifting prints and colorful combinations, everyone at Sweet Spot – from owner Stephanie Lynn to managers to stay-at-home-seamsters – strives for a balanced, healthy life.
Health for Sweet Spot means emotional as well as physical, and Lynn backs that up with fun outings for her management team to show her appreciation of their hard work. Past Christmas parties have included lunch and mall shopping (tab picked up by the company) and a staff appreciation night centered around dinner and team-building activities.
Sweet Spot Skirts also encourages and pays for employee entries all year long for organized walks, runs and bicycling events.
Since its inception, their wellness plan has supported and celebrated a 423 mile (7 day) bike ride across Iowa, six Vancouver USA half marathons, 13 entries in the Bloomsday Run, a first-ever bike ride at Vancouver’s Champagne Bike Ride by Energy Events and a completion in the Boston Marathon.
In 2015, Lynn purchased a Fitbit for all of her 14 employees and tracked their steps, believing that walking is “a simple thing that we all can do.”
Health does not stop with the staff at Sweet Spot Skirts. Fitness Frenzy, a Facebook event, has run from November 1 until Thanksgiving every year since 2010. Currently, 1,500 women are participating as the staff posts what physical activity they engaged in that day in an effort to encourage other women to get out and move. People who comment are entered to win skirts on Thanksgiving morning.
Healthiest Company – Mid-Sized Employer
Award recipient (tie): Dynamic Events
Dynamic’s unofficial motto is “There’s no such thing as work/life balance; there’s just this one life, and we just happen to live some of it here in our office.”
A myriad of enviable benefits support healthy living at this professionally-focused event planning organization. Three one-hour professional fitness training sessions and one one-hour yoga session are offered each week in their on-site gym. These occur during business hours so that fitness time doesn’t interfere with outside social and personal time. Quarterly health assessments are also conducted for all participants by the fitness trainers.
A fully-stocked kitchen complete with healthful foods and beverages; two on-site napping pods and a wetlands walking trail are also provided.
Dynamic Events believes that recreation can only happen through an appropriate amount of down time. As a result, a minimum two-week vacation policy over and above their offices being closed for the week of Thanksgiving and two weeks during the December holidays means five weeks of paid time off each year.
The first $500 that employees deposit into their Flexible Spending Account is matched by the company and remote employees are given $300 per year for exercise options in lieu of on-site training.
Other incentives include Fitbits to monitor activity while at work-related conferences; $35 per month of “morale money” to use toward a team building activity and annual event participation in things like whitewater rafting and Warrior Dash competitions.
As a result of employee input in Dynamic’s workplace wellness program, more yoga classes will be added in 2017. The company believes happy employees that feel valued as a result of real investments into their health pay dividends in a strong morale and company loyalty.
Award recipient (tie): LSW Architects
LSW values – giving back, service, family, relationship, community, impact, growth, creativity, leadership and gratefulness/gratitude – are at the core of who this Vancouver-based architectural firm is, and supported by their comprehensive wellness program.
Flexible schedules including modified hours and work-from-home options support family time, which LSW sees as a priority. Employee medical and dental insurance is paid 100 percent by LSW, 50 percent is paid for spouse and children and routine preventative exams and tests for employees are complimentary. Additional insurance coverage is available for injury or long-term illness for a fee.
Fiscal health is cultivated through a 401k matching program.
To promote nutritional health, snacks like fruits and veggies, hummus, whole wheat and rice crackers, rice cakes, popcorn, snap pea crisps and string cheese are supplied for the staff in the office.
Physical activity is encouraged at LSW through a host of creative programs including their “Move Your Feet” campaign launched last winter. To date, 19 staff members have been reimbursed up to $100 for a pair of athletic shoes after purchasing them and posting a review of how they were used on LSW’s Instagram feed. In phases, sit-to-stand desks replaced fixed height desks to where now all office desks have this feature which promotes better ergonomics and a more engaged workgroup.
A shower facility encourages physical activity like running, rock climbing and boot camp classes during lunch, and indoor bike racks facilitate biking to work. Employees also participate in office hikes, half marathons and an annual white water rafting trip.
LSW sees sustainability as a valuable component of overall company health and, through a Green Team, are looking at ways to improve energy consumption, water usage, stormwater runoff and to improve their recycling program.
Finalist: Mill Creek Pub
Breaking bread is a common social activity. Food can have even more of an impact for people in the restaurant industry. Owner, Russell Brent, decided to use what can be a health seeker’s downfall to his advantage by redesigning the Mill Creek Pub menu. The menu now includes a host of healthy options, offered free of charge to employees participating in the Mill Creek Workplace Wellness Plan.
Additionally, organized hiking, biking and running activities are scheduled on select Monday and Saturdays. Area hikes have included Silver Star, Hidden Falls, and Siouxon Creek. Brent makes sure a power breakfast starts the group off right, pays for the gas to travel to the trailhead and makes sure everyone is treated to a satisfying lunch to cap off the day. As a team, Mill Creek participates in charity events, as well.
Mill Creek Pub also supplements smoking cessation strategies up to $50 a month.
Brent believes that by creating a healthier workplace environment where employees can participate and support one another, the team has become more connected – which improves the Mill Creek Pub experience for diners as well as employees.
Finalist: Opsahl Dawson
Since a key vision of Opsahl Dawson is to be a cutting-edge CPA firm where staff can build a long-term career, staff adoption of a healthy lifestyle is critical to attaining this goal.
In an effort to offer flexible schedules so that employees could take advantage of work-from-home options, many of the physical components of work have disappeared. The company went back to the drawing board and came up with a strategy that works for today.
Tax season is two-and-a-half months of long work weeks and a lot of sitting. Thus, the firm provides healthy Saturday lunches and snacks throughout the week to keep energy levels up. Two shopping trips per week are taken to ensure fresh fruit and nutrition/energy bars are always available.
In the vein of the popular television program, Opsahl also conducts a “Biggest Loser Challenge” to create accountability, encouragement and fun via Fitbit results and weekly weight loss reports. The company has found that this annual challenge keeps employees engaged in a healthy lifestyle and creates a supportive environment for the entire staff.
Healthiest Company – Large Employer
Award recipient (tie): ControlTek
Forward Living is a wellness program created by this electronic contract manufacturing company with their employees in mind. Features include a full health risk assessment, individual health consultation services, health coaching, regular wellness committee meetings and annual biometric screenings.
Stacey Smith, vice president of human resources and marketing, explained that ControlTek focuses on high-touch activities as opposed to web-based resources. Classes are then followed up with an activity to apply what staff has learned.
Employees receive a bingo card and, for each square completed, they’re eligible to draw a gift card or other motivational incentive. Squares consist of simple steps toward wellness like ‘Eat 4 Fruits and Veggies a Day for 14 Days,’ ‘Visit the Eye Doctor,’ ‘Avoid Sugary Drinks’ or ‘Use No Electronics During Dinner.’
Smith said, “It’s usually the little tiny things that people can add, one on top of another, that significantly impacts health and wellness.”
Boasting an 85 percent participation rate, Forward Living is a results-based program that monitors blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol and other biometric factors, and the program is paying off. Negative risk factors in all tracked categories have continued to decline for participating staff across the board going into the program’s fifth year.
Award recipient (tie): Nautilus, Inc.
Appropriately entitled Road to Wellness, Nautilus sees wellness “as a lifelong journey that involves mind, body, nutrition and personal financial actions.” Stamps are earned for actions like preventative annual exams and flu shots/vaccines; increasing a 401(k) contribution; completing a financial planning course; engaging in family fitness activities like coaching a youth sports team, having a child participate in a sport and/or participating in outdoor activities as a family; donating blood; and participating in Meals on Wheels and other volunteer activities.
Employees are encouraged to participate in the many company-sponsored events such as the American Lung Association Fight for Air Stair Climb, American Heart Association Heart Walk, Reach the Beach Bike Ride, Hood to Coast and Nautilus softball and kickball teams.
Complimentary access to the company’s fitness center is offered to all employees (and their immediate family) as well as equipment purchases at deep discounts to promote wellness at home.
In 2015, Nautilus saw a 25 percent increase in employee Road to Wellness participation and 44 percent earning a ‘black out’ in their stamped card. Through September of 2016, 218 employees have logged over 18,933 workouts; closing in on the 18,983 total workouts in 2015.
The company’s commitment to providing a healthy lifestyle for their employees as well as their customers is paying off. For the third year in a row, medical claims have decreased, which has been a key factor in keeping medical premiums at 2013 rates.
Finalist: Banfield Pet Hospital
When Banfield Pet Hospital built their new headquarters in East Vancouver, they focused on integrating wellness opportunities into the design. Combining functional elements with their enviable PAW program, the world’s largest veterinary practice has struck a unique balance.
The Paw program, otherwise known as Pets at Work, allows dogs to spend the day with their human counterpart once they’ve passed a behavior assessment. Although the current 205 dogs account for just 29 percent of their workforce, having a couple hundred Fidos roaming the halls creates a nurturing environment for the entire team.
Architectural features that promote physical wellness include a three-story ramp specifically designed for dogs that is also available for their two-legged friends; a gated outdoor space that team members are encouraged to utilize for fresh air – to play with the pups and for co-worker collaboration; a dog and human-friendly half-mile pathway around the campus, “hydration stations” for pets around the building that the associates are encouraged to walk their dogs to during the day; and micro cafes placed throughout the building to further encourage movement.
To determine the advantages of pets in the workplace, Banfield surveyed more than 1,000 employees and 200 human resource decision-makers across the United States. 95 percent of those surveyed said pets at work improve work relationships; 91 percent agreed that it improves employee morale; and 93 percent agreed that it improves an employee’s sense of well-being.
WaferTech believes that “healthier employees who experience greater well-being are more able to innovate, keep their commitments and earn/maintain customer trust.”
To capture as many employees as possible, WaferTech has maintained five different programs in the last couple of years: yoga, small group personal training, Weight Watchers, Cafeteria Redesign and Health Trails.
Offered three days per week during lunch, yoga classes range from 30 to 60 minutes long to accommodate all employees. This is transitioning into a Fitness at Work Program to add Zumba, Bootcamp and Pilates.
Personal training consisted of a six-week and 13-week session that ran successfully in their on-site gym with a company-provided certified personal trainer. 100 WaferTech employees lost an average of 54 pounds each during its two-year run.
After remodeling their cafeteria to promote better food choices, WaferTech teamed up with Clark County Public Health to lead nutrition seminars and show employees how to create a healthier version of their favorite recipes.
Tracking sleep, exercise and produce consumption are core components in the company’s online Health Trails program that 130 employees are currently participating in. Coupled with ongoing running and walking events, WaferTech keeps engagement high by offering a variety of programs for many fitness levels and lifestyle situations.
Healthiest Company – Headquartered Outside of Southwest Washington
Award recipient: Perkins & Co.
As an accounting firm, sitting for long hours can be a particular hazard from January through May. To combat this, Perkins’ award-winning wellness committee established the “Busy Season Wellness Challenge.” Employees are encouraged to form teams of six and earn one point for every one minute of exercise. Weekly in-house yoga and Barre3 classes are offered, team members train for local runs together, plan weekend bike outings and tackle the high-rise stairs provided in the office during the work day. The results from 2016 were 235,192 minutes of exercise clocked by more than 50 percent of the staff.
Dry months see the switch to the Summer of Fun Bingo Challenge, meditation classes, recipe competitions and plenty of locally-sourced produce. Perkins staff are the recipients of community-supported agriculture via the Our Table Co-Op, which provides a weekly delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables directly to registered offices.
Other company benefits include flexible work schedules including telecommuting options, bi-weekly massage therapists, standing workstations, a company quiet room for rest and rejuvenation, health-focused company-paid meals during the busy season and financial sessions throughout the year.
Finalist: Miller Nash Graham & Dunn
Live Well is the title of this law firm’s wellness program, which was established in 2007.
Miller Nash Graham & Dunn is another company that recognizes wellness goes beyond the individual and encourages volunteer service as a way to meaningfully connect with the community at large. Past events and causes have included Humane Society’s Walk for Animals, AHA Heart & Stroke Walk and the City of Vancouver’s Make a Difference Day.
Healthy office snack options like fresh fruit, snackable vegetables, low-fat string cheese and whole grain bread are provided as evidence of the company’s commitment to partner with employees on their road to wellness. Each year, a speaker series welcomes experts in wellness to share on a myriad of topics from physical and mental fitness to better cooking options and more.
Physical fitness is promoted by way of changing rooms and shower facilities, the encouragement of stairway use in lieu of the elevator, bicycle storage, ergonomic workspace options and subsidized monthly dues for gym membership, recreational passes and fitness event registration fees.
Passport to Wellness is another innovative program to motivate staff. Participation in events and programs earn employees a stamp. Drawings at the end of the year translate into cash prizes.
Live Well is coordinated by a team made up of all staff voices from attorneys to support staff. The firm said this diversity encourages a wide range of ideas that illustrate the many faces, physical abilities and fitness interests that make up Miller Nash.
Congratulations to all of the 2016 Healthiest Companies of Southwest Washington!