How the Best Companies handle health and wellness

Every year I look forward to the Working Mother 100 Best Companies. I'm fascinated by who these savvy employers are and what they offer their workers. Like most working mothers, I'm envious of those parents who are fortunate enough to work for companies that want happy workers.

Now, Working Mother named for the first time the Top 10 Best Companies for Health
and Wellness. This new award recognizes top employers that have created programs and policies that encourage health and fitness as a way to reduce stress in the workplace.

The Top 10 Companies for Health and Wellness for 2012 are: Cornell University, Discovery Communications, Ernst & Young, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Mercy Health System, Morgan Stanley, Verizon Communications, and Wellstar Health System.

At these companies, seven feature fitness centers, all offer fitness classes and many have on-site medical clinics. General Mills’ on-site fitness center offers personal training and massages, while Goldman Sachs holds a weeklong program on resilience and health. At Discovery, 65
percent of the workforce participated in a four-month fitness challenge.

Jennifer OwensI spoke with Jennifer Owens, Editorial Director for Working Mother and Working Mother Research Institute, and asked her about the magazine's interest in health and wellness.

Q. Health and wellness certainly is on the minds of most working moms. How did the idea for finding the top employers in this category come about?

A. This was something the work life practitioners were talking about. They see it coming up as an issue because of burnout, employee engagement and productivity concerns. 


Q. Did you have a personal interest in the topic?

A. I used to handle wellness on my own when I was single. But between long hours,  keeping the business going and the kids, it's more complicated now. I'm completely passionate about this topic because I do personally need the help.

Q. What, to you, was most interesting about what the Best Companies in this category provide?

A. About 98 percent offer stress management. I thought, "Wow! That's cool because I’m stressed." I wondered, "What is that?"  I learned that it's time management, delegation, work strategy…breathing is part of it and communication is part of it. It's about being part of a supportive team. These companies are teaching employees how to manage their stress and be more resilient.

Q. For what you've seen, what's the key to wellness? What works?

A.  About 81 percent of these Best Companies have fitness centers and walking paths.
But the companies that see a difference are the ones who are getting people to work together to get well.

Q. It's great to work for a big employer that offer on-site fitness centers and other benefits but what can a small employer do?

A. I don't think it costs a lot to have someone come in and talk about stress management or nutrititon. Many small employers also get lower prices for their staff at the local gym. There is a way use the power of your workforce to get everyone involved. I worked at tiny publishing company and we got together and did lunchtime yoga. One lady led it and everyone got involved. It cost nothing. Most of us spend a lot of time at work. If we can carve out time at our workplace for health and wellness, that may be the answer.

Q. How do you squeeze fitness into your schedule?

A. It is very hard. To be completely honest, I should do more. I work from home on Fridays so I use my commute time to go to the gym and work out. I'm not at the point where I can work from home more often. I feel like I'm fighting an endless battle, but I'm working on it again. I think all of us at Working Mother are going to figure it out and come up with a plan. I may have to take the lead.

Q. I know most of the companies on your 100 Best understand the need for flexibility. Do you think there are employers who have made the link between flexibility and wellness?

A. They do at the 100 Best. I think they understand that how you get your work done feeds into your
sense of well being.


Here is a full list of the Working Mother 100 Best Companies, now in its 27th year, and a link to how 10 working moms keep wellness on their to-do lists. I'm also including a fabulous infographic from Working Mother that shows some of the wellness benefits that the Best Companies offer. I think it's interesting that 97 percent offer a weight loss program. That's a tremendous benefit!



The Work/Life Balancing Act

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