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Fit for work

Fit for work

Keeping health insurance costs down is important to the management at Landmark Bank. And they’re always pleased when productivity is up. But those aren’t the main reasons why having happy, healthy employees has long been one of the company’s top priorities.

“It’s really more than that,” says Jennifer Landrum, director and bank officer. “Our bankers support us all day, every day — and we want to support them as well.”

The more the bank can do preventatively, rather than just filing insurance claims and dealing with problems when they occur, the more time there is to focus on positive strategies for growing in the community. And that, she says, affects everybody’s pocketbook.

The bank also prides itself on keeping an open management style. When an employee is passionate about a certain subject, the bank offers him or her freedom to put those ideas into motion.

“We support all kinds of ideas our employees have,” Landrum says. “We’re willing to try just about anything. Some of it works; and some doesn’t. But it’s good to keep things fresh. We’re always making changes that follow the needs of the company.”

Veterans United Home Loans is another exceptional Columbia business in terms of health promotion. With employee perks that include 15-minutes massages and a refrigerator of fresh fruit and healthy snacks, the employees who work there know they have it good.

“It’s no secret that having healthier employees is better for your business,” says Ian Franz, VUHL culture coordinator. “Our thinking is that life shouldn’t be this compartmentalized thing where you have your work, then you have your exercise. They go together; and they affect each other. We want our employees to be healthy at work and home, and our programs and activities help that happen.”

At Boone Hospital Center, keeping employees healthy is especially challenging. Tasked with keeping patients healthy, the hospital’s staff are often beaten down by stress and fatigue themselves.

Health care workers have a tendency to work painfully long hours, says Boone Hospital fitness instructor Mason Stevens. With long hours and demanding schedules, maintaining a balance between work and health isn’t always easy.

To counter that, all Boone Hospital employees have free memberships to the WellAware fitness center. “We want to have happier, healthier employees in the workplace,” Stevens says. “And exercise has incredible mental and psychological benefits for that. For those that make the time to come in, exercise is a way to calm down and become more relaxed.”

Getting fit is also a smart idea for employees who do strenuous or repetitive work, Stevens says. For the hospital, it can help keep insurance costs down and productivity up. For workers, it equates to a healthier lifestyle and a steady flow of income.

Within the past several years, the Optimus Wellness Center has partnered with Columbia businesses to encourage healthier lifestyles for employees. One idea that continues to be well received, says manager Holly Delgman, is a wellness challenge.

Usually held for three-month periods, company groups compete against one another while learning about nutrition, fitness and strategies for basic well-being. Winners take home prizes like a gym memberships or gift cards to local grocery or sports stores.

“I think a large part of their success is because group programs really do build morale,” Delgman says. “The more employees interact with one another, the more successful the program is. And when they work together toward a goal, they become more accountable.”

Here are healthy activities and benefits that Landmark Bank and Veterans United Home Loans have planned for their employees this year:

Landmark Bank

2012: The Year of Fun, Fun, Fun! Landmark has named 2012 the year of “Fun, Fun, Fun!” Each month brings at least one “Fun Friday,” which often includes stress-busting activities like a rousing bout of Wii Fit in the employee break room.

Wellness Team. Landmark’s Columbia offices have a Wellness Team made up of volunteer bankers who plan fun activities throughout the year. The group is known to offer entertainment during company-wide meetings, with past subjects including exercises that can be done in the office, an employee pedometer challenge and their “Random Acts of Wellness” incentive campaign in which employees offered each other stickers when spotted doing healthy acts. The Wellness Team insists that everybody get involved, including the bank president and CEO.

Valencia Viva. With a name that translates loosely to something like “strength and life,” Valencia Viva serves as the mascot for the Wellness Team. She stays in touch with employees on a regular basis via email and newsletters, sharing healthy tips, recipes and upcoming activities and programs happening in the area.

Wellness fairs. Each year, Landmark holds a wellness fair via the Boone County WellAware center, offering employees free blood work screenings, flu shots, body-mass index counts, blood pressure readings and other basic health information. “We want to keep our employees healthy,” says Landrum. “These fairs are just a way to make it easier for people.”

Fitness boot camp. Throughout the year the bank offers its employees discounted rates on fitness boot camp at Wilson’s Fitness Centers. Rigorous exercise is, well, rigorous exercise. But with peer support, the time spent can seem a little more enjoyable.

Health coaching. All Landmark employees have access to health coaching that can be used for a variety of reasons including stress management, smoking cessation or help through emotionally challenging times. The service is confidential and is paid for by the bank.

Lunch & Learn. Once a month, bankers bring their lunch and learn from guest speakers from around the community. Healthy subjects like meditation and yoga are often the focus, but the program is open to anything.

Traveling trophy. Bankers nominate their co-workers as the recipient for the traveling trophy, a golden barbell celebrating healthy success stories.

Veterans United Home Loans

Fresh fruit fridge. VUHL employees are treated to a refrigerator of fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, milk and granola, restocked each morning by Hy-Vee grocery store. “New employees are always in disbelief,” says Franz. “But it’s true. It’s really true.”

15-minute massage. Every day, emails are sent out; and if your name is on the list, it’s your day to go get your free, 15-minute massage. Franz makes sure to cash in on his every time his name appears on the list. There is no doubt that they make people happier, he says. They just melt the stress away.

Biggest Loser challenge. In December, VUHL finished its six-week “Biggest Loser” weight loss challenge, named after the popular reality television program. But unlike the show, there are no eliminations. VUHL pays for each employee, as long as he or she attends nine out of 12 sessions. Last year, 120 out of VUHL’s 550 Columbia employees participated; and the winners each received a year’s membership to Wilson’s Fitness. “Approaching weight loss as a group has its benefits,” Franz says. “There is definitely a buzz about it in the office, which helps create a momentum.”

Gym discounts. VUHL covers half of each employee’s yearly membership costs at a variety of local gyms; and for those who work out at Wilson’s Fitness, spouses receive a discount, too.

Sports leagues. Throughout the year, VUHL provides opportunities for employees to participate in recreational sports leagues around Columbia, including softball, volleyball, basketball and indoor soccer.

Recreational tennis. In spring and fall, Franz runs a tennis club for men and women, which typically draws about 20 to 30 employees out to the courts for some fun and stress relief. There’s no telling who might show up, as participation runs from the intern level up to the company executives.

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