When Wellness Becomes Part of a Company’s Culture

NetCenergy President Don Nokes knew it was time to do something about wellness when he realized how many unhealthy foods he was providing to his employees in the company snackbox. Resolving to give his team a real energy boost, he brought in a registered dietitian to recommend healthy snack alternatives, such as juices, water, raisins and dried cranberries instead of high-calorie snacks.

The nutritionist also led lunch-and-learns to jump start employee awareness about what it means to eat healthy. That simple snackbox change led to a true wellness transformation for NetCenergy.

Wellness at NetCenergy goes further than inspiring employees to eat right. At one point, four of the 12 employees smoked and all had expressed a strong desire to quit. Nokes challenged them with incentives such as company outings if they were smoke-free by a certain date, and more fun if they made it to the next date. These incentives, along with education, led to all four smokers kicking the habit.

Nokes says that wellness has become a way of life at NetCenergy. For example, for one eight week period as part of the “Shape Up Rhode Island” program, Fridays were walk days. Half the company walked from 11:30 a.m. to noon and the other half walked from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Each person wore a pedometer and challenged the other team to see who walked more. After the walks, all employees joined together for a healthy company-sponsored lunch. According to Nokes, “Everyone participated. Everyone benefited.”

NetCenergy takes advantage of UnitedHealthcare’s lifestyle webinars to help its employees stay committed to their personal wellness. The company also sponsors events such as runs that can earn employees exercise-related gift certificates and prizes. This year nearly all full time employees participated.

NetCenergy extends its wellness focus to recycling efforts. At the most recent recycling event, employees were encouraged to bring their electronics to an area drop-off for proper disposal and event organizers noted that NetCenergy’s donation was three times larger than normal for a company of its size.

Nokes strongly believes that a company of any size can make a difference in its employees’ health. His advice?

  • Do small things often. Don’t save for a big, one-time event. (As Nokes puts it, “Don’t treat your wellness program like a crash diet.”)
  • Be a role model for employees. Show them by your own wellness activities that you take it seriously.
  • Draw inspiration from what others are doing and take advantage of resources from UnitedHealthcare, such as newsletters, educational programs, email articles and more to help reinforce your message.
  • Best of all, little steps don’t need to cost a lot to achieve big results.

Leave a comment

Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

previous arrow
next arrow