Corporate wellness programs have been discussed in the media over the past few years, and as I read more about them this week, I discovered that the tangible benefits of such programs are vast, ranging from blood pressure and cholesterol management, to stress reduction and mental wellness. I also came across articles claiming wellness initiatives don’t encourage healthy behavior beyond the requirements, or can be an invasion of privacy when employees are required to submit to comprehensive health screenings. Do corporate wellness programs really work? In my experience, they are indispensable. Wellness programs can serve as motivational starting points for employees interested in leading healthier lifestyles and are thus a very positive component of a company’s culture. In my case, the programs offered at Promega greatly facilitated my personal efforts to become more active and mindful.
As many Wisconsinites can attest, staying active in Wisconsin during the winter months can be incredibly challenging. Even walking from your car to the gym might cause your eyes to water and fingers to go numb from the cold. It is no wonder that when given the chance to snuggle up on a warm couch or to go for a run in the brisk weather this winter, I chose the former.
Choosing comfort over activity for 8 months had its consequences. During a recent ‘Know Your Numbers’ check-up at the Promega Wellness Center, I realized that at the age of 25, my numbers were not ideal. Thanks to that check-up, I gained awareness and perspective. I decided to take some time outside of the busy workday to be more mindful of the resources available to me through Promega, a company that regularly offers programs to encourage active and healthy lifestyles. Past campaigns aimed to educate employees and promote actions such as nutritious eating, increased physical activity and mindfulness. Knowing I enjoy being active in groups, I decided to take part in the Pedal to Petal Summer Bike Event, which encourages Promega employees and their families to get active on a bike during the summer months. Every day we bike and every mile we ride, outdoors or indoors, counts towards a goal and our chances to win cycling-related prizes. Employees don’t feel obligated to participate, but have the option to do so along with colleagues or alone. Having just purchased a commuter bike, I’ve biked after work and on the weekends with my partner. This past weekend, I biked 17 miles from downtown Madison to a location outside of Verona.
Other Promega wellness initiatives have helped me stay active and well. The Corporate Health Promotion Specialist teaches Gentle Yoga and fitness classes, which I have attended along with my manager twice per week in the Zen Zone space on campus. The Director of Integrative Practices recently taught an 8-week series of classes on mindfulness and focused awareness. This ProMindful corporate initiative offered ways for employees to remain in the present moment and to focus on the balance of Being/Awareness over constant Thinking/Doing. The lunch-time summer volleyball league gave me a chance to interact and have fun with colleagues from other departments and other buildings.
The bottom-line: being active has been much easier for me because of wellness opportunities offered at work. As a young professional, I am not willing to spend $45 each month on a gym membership and Promega programs give me various alternatives for staying active and mindful. I would encourage professionals to check out the wellness program options available to them at work. Don’t have one in place? Discuss implementing wellness initiatives with corporate leadership teams. Create an after-work sports league or plan a Couch to 5k with colleagues. Start a yoga class during your lunch hour or go for a hike outside. Be mindful of options available to you, and find friends to do the work by your side.