Herald-Citizen (Cookeville, Tennessee)
March 19, 2013
A healthy workforce is not only a happier workforce, but a more efficient one at that.
That’s what officials with TUTCO learned in the past year as they participated in a pilot workplace wellness program with Cookeville Regional Medical Center.
“We’ve held wellness fairs for years, but this (new program) allowed us to step it up and take our wellness program to a new level,” Angela Bruce, HR manager with TUTCO, said. “Our whole goal is to be better in everything we do, we’re going to try to be better in wellness, safety and quality.”
TUTCO, a manufacturer of heating elements that has a plant located here in Cookeville, employs 260 people.
“When we started this, I told everyone that we wanted them to be serious about being an ambassador to wellness at TUTCO,” Bruce said. “We had 64 participants who signed the commitment and did a great job (in the first year). Overall, TUTCO, as a group, we lost over 1,000 pounds and walked over 1,000 miles. The 64 people were the encouraging ones—our core group—who brought others along with them.”
The program involves on-site health screenings of the employees in the business or industry. An aggregate health report with information about cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight are taken and then healthy goals for the year are created.
CRMC health coaches give employees education and encouragement to help achieve those goals and in a year, the employees are re-screened.
The core group (the first 64 members) lost a total of 253 pounds, significantly decreased their BMI (body mass index) by 2%, and reduced their cholesterol by 360 points in the first year.
When re-enrollment came up, more people have signed up—nearly doubling in fact, with 125 participants.
With this being the first program of its kind, TUTCO and CRMC worked together to formulate it. Next year will be different.
“We’ve kind of developed the program in partnership together along the way to see what the needs of the employees were,” Jill Bolling, RN, director of business development at CRMC, said. “We’ve been talking, and the program looks a little different year one than it’s going to look in year two. We’re going to be adding some features—we’re going to be meeting with employees more often—each quarter—sit down with them one-on-one to go over what their yearly goals are. It’s more hands-on than we’ve ever been with any other industry.”
With the first year behind them, the encouragement among the employees is rolling.
“Everyone is so motivated and excited,” Bruce said. “When you go and talk to some of them, the first thing they say is “Guess how much I lost?” or “Guess how far I ran?” One of the things we’re having them turn in on exercise logs is to write down what they have gained through exercise over the last month.”
At the beginning, there was a wide range of goals that the core group wanted to meet.
“We had a lot of people who wanted to lose 10-15 pounds and then people who needed to lose 50 pounds,” Bolling noted. “I think what plagues most businesses and industries is that the average person is stressed and doesn’t make the time to exercise or eat right and puts themselves last a lot. This program helps them see what health issues they are having and then give them tools to assist them.”
Tools include shopping healthy and economically and getting exercise without having to join a gym.
“The nutrition classes are also helpful,” Bruce said. “The nutritionist came in, kind of deciphered the labels we see on food and showed us what the best choices are.”
TUTCO employees Sandy Moon and Jennifer Anderson are two of the employees who participated in the program.
“I went down from a size 16 pant to an 8,” Moon said. “I feel so much better. Everyone says I look good, but more importantly, I feel good.”
Anderson lost more than 36 pounds.
“Angela said she needed motivated people,” she recalled. “I went home that night and told my husband and kids about it. They said that we could do it together. That’s why I decided to join. If I can do it, I can show other people they can do it.”
Her goal was to drop jean sizes.
“I didn’t weigh myself, but instead we’d go to Kohl’s to try on jeans,” she said. “I’d come out and have a sad face and my husband would tell me it’s okay, keep going. Then sometimes I’d find a pair that fit and I would come out with an excited face.”
Her original goal was to lose 16 pounds, but she kept going. And she credits it to her support groups.
“I have a support group here and I also have a support group at home,” she said. “People on the floor ask me how I did it. I told them if they needed any help, just ask.”
It’s not only changed her lifestyle, but her family’s lifestyle.
“My husband and kids and I play basketball, we do a lot of walking and running, but they’re more encouraging,” Anderson said. “When you go in the gym and work the basketball for two hours, it is a good workout.”
Moon said her husband has changed his cooking styles.
“As you get into it, you find you’re more conscious of how you eat,” she said.
Bruce said this program has brought about heightened awareness of everyone’s health.
“This is a general conversation people have throughout the facility,” she said. “They’re talking about it and they’re wanting to lower their cholesterol and blood pressure.”
There’s also a walking trail that was created around the facility off of Gould Drive so employees could walk at lunch, on their break or even after work. And another incentive involves a gym reimbursement program. An employee has to meet certain requirements under that program.
“Living healthy is not a fad or a quick fix,” Bolling said. “It’s all about setting healthy goals for an ideal body weight.”
“They’re doing it together as a group,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
Quality News Today is an ASQ member benefit offering quality related news
from around the world every business day.