Construction companies share the results of their employee health, wellness initiatives.

COURTESY: R&H CONSTRUCTION  - R&H Constructions employee health and wellness initiatives include teambuilding exercises such as rafting, indoor skydiving, go-kart racing, golf and paintball. R&H also hosts an annual Field Day and Mt. Bachelor Ski Day, sponsors a company softball team, and pays the entrance fees for community events such as Race for the Cure and the Shamrock Run.

When Hoffman Construction Company established a health clinic for its employees in Portland just over a year ago, the company's leaders wanted to make primary care, biometric testing, health and wellness coaching and other services more accessible and convenient for workers.

Hoffman partnered with Seattle-based Vera Whole Health to open the downtown Portland clinic as a complement to its online, educational resources about health, wellness and stress prevention, and coaching sessions to encourage financial planning and wellness. In addition, Hoffman encourages employees to participate in community events both as groups of colleagues and as individuals.

Dan Drinkward, Hoffman's vice president, said that since the clinic opened, 85 percent of employees have participated in the program, 328 did a preventive exam in the first year, and 363 employees took advantage of health coaching. The clinic saw a total of 1,965 visits in the first year.

"Access to a primary care provider is essential to health and providing access through Vera has been very successful," Drinkward said. "We've been really pleased with the results of the program. The point of this is to generally do the right thing by our employees and is not associated with getting any specific metric in terms of cost or absenteeism, or anything like that."

Lose 15 lbs, gain $250

R&H Construction, which has long had an array of health and wellness initiatives in place, also has seen some marked gains. Among them, employees' total HDL cholesterol ratio has decreased from 4.2 in 2015 to 3.8 at the end of 2017, for a drop of 9.5 percent. Employees' body mass index has decreased 3 percent and their blood pressure has continued to decrease by 5 percent in that same time period.

COURTESY: R&H CONSTRUCTION - R&H Constructions employee health and wellness initiatives include teambuilding exercises such as rafting and softball. Staff can get $250 for losing 15 pounds and a further $250 for keeping it off for six months.The firm also pays for Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.

"These results are extremely encouraging and demonstrate how a commitment to wellness can have a positive outcome," said Karen Swanzy-Sidlo, human resources generalist for the company. "The true measure of success for our program is not based on dollars and cents, but hearing the stories from employees that have made a triumphant change in their life and how the support of the company played a role in that change."

In January, R&H implemented a new weight loss incentive/support program for employees who need to lose more than 15 pounds. Once they have reached their weight loss goal, the company will pay them $250. If the employee maintains their goal for six months R&H will provide another $250. In addition, the company will fund $500 towards a weight loss program such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Since the program's inception, 20 employees have signed up and five people have hit their goal weight.

R&H's program focuses on the physical, social, emotional and financial well-being of its employees and includes ongoing wellness challenges, a $500 smoking cessation incentive, healthy snacks and stand-up workstations, a monthly $35 fitness incentive, office bikes and showers, catered healthy breakfasts and BBQs on job sites, a self-defense class, biometric screenings and online health risk assessments, and flu shots. A couple of years ago, R&H became approved as a Blue Zone site by meeting specific wellness measures.

And money too

R&H also offers its employees a free financial service, life coaching and mentoring, an employee assistance program, bimonthly health seminars, and company-sponsored community service opportunities. Its leaders encourage employees to work no more than 40 hours a week,

COURTESY: R&H CONSTRUCTION - R&H Constructions employee health and wellness initiatives include teambuilding exercises like paintball.

Swanzy-Sidlo said employees have commented that seeing coworkers participate in the wellness program motivated them to do the same, they appreciate the flexibility to fit exercise into their schedule during the day, and that healthy snacks in the kitchen help make smart eating choices easier

"One of the lessons we've learned is that it's important to keep it fresh and try new things," she said, adding a committee asks employees what they want and has done a few surveys to help craft a successful health and wellness program. A focus this year is on teambuilding events such as rafting, indoor skydiving, go-kart racing, golf and paintball.

"While physically challenging, the real benefit came from the mental break of being able to leave work, hang out with team members from different departments and do something fun together," Swanzy-Sidlo said.

In a Peer Pressure Challenge introduced this year, extra points are given when teams exercise together.

"We've found that anything team-related tends to work better, whether it's a team challenge or a team event. It shows support for each other and that we're all in this together, and incentives help," she said. "People are starting to train together before a race and that is really fun."

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