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Fit Biz | KC Companies Thrive With a Focus on Employee Health and Wellness

by Angela Orr | Oct 25, 2017
The below excerpt and images are from the 2016-2017 issue of KC Options. Read on Issuu.

If people are the most valuable company resource, it’s no surprise employers are encouraging healthy lifestyles among employees. Kansas City companies are no exception, and many of the region’s top businesses have rolled out extensive wellness offerings designed for health and happiness.

FitBizKCBurns & McDonnell is a Kansas City engineering, architecture and construction firm with an approach to wellness that’s really about convenience—providing healthy offerings on-site so employees can easily incorporate them into their day. The company offers services such as dermatology screenings, a fitness center, fresh produce delivery, massages and biometric screenings, and employees can also take advantage of an on-site pharmacy and health center, which has helped reduce absences and boost productivity. Participation in the company’s wellness incentive program also earns employees discounts off insurance premiums.

The company is a presenting sponsor of Kansas City Corporate Challenge, an Olympic-style event allowing area companies to compete through sporting events. Lauren Dunn, benefits administrator, said the yearly event has helped drive healthy behavior.

“A little friendly competition goes a long way!” she said. “We communicate our standings, recognize our participants, and offer words of encouragement. This is a great reminder of how participating in health- and wellness-inspired events can be rewarding and fun.”

With more than 300 employees, the Kansas City office of KPMG is one of the oldest and largest accounting firms in the area. The company encourages wellness by focusing on stress reduction and giving back.

At a recent Yoga in the Park event, attendees were able to enjoy a relaxing environment and unwind at the end of the work week. Philanthropy is also a major focus, and each employee is given 12 hours of paid annual volunteer time. KPMG created the nationwide KPMG Family for Literacy program, which provides new books – nearly two million in total – to children from low-income families. The Kansas City office has been involved since 2012 and distributes around 600 books to families in the area and hosts literacy events as well.

Kyri Gorges, KPMG college relations manager, said the company’s philanthropy improves morale by allowing employees to make a positive impact in the community and interact with other staff members.

“Community service projects are important to KPMG because they build bridges and connect employees, not only with our community, but with each other,” she said. “They also offer our employees a ‘mental refresh,’ allowing them to renew their energy and restore a positive attitude.”

Yoga is a valuable wellness tool at Sedgwick LLP, an international litigation and business law firm in Kansas City. The weekly classes are just one part of the overall Healthy Practice program, which also includes healthy challenges, coaching and online learning. Participation can lead to prizes and even reduced insurance premiums.

Image from Lauren Leduc Yoga

“It’s an exciting and engaging way for employees to be aware and directly involved in their own health and well-being—and be rewarded for it,” said Caran Smith, director of communications.

With an emphasis on improving the health of communities right in its mission statement, it’s no surprise Cerner offers a full range of wellness options to employees. The world’s largest publicly traded health information technology company, headquartered in North Kansas City, Missouri, created its own internal health economy called Healthe. Employees can visit a primary-care physician, chiropractor, behavioral therapist, dietitian, fitness specialist and health coach—all on-site.

The various campuses located in the area also feature pharmacies, full-service fitness centers, cafés with healthy options, weight loss programs, a maternity navigation program and a monthly farmer’s market during the local growing season.

“Wellness is a significant component of Cerner’s culture,” said Arielle Bogorad, senior director of benefits and wellness. “We believe there’s too much emphasis on reactive sick care, and not enough on proactive health.”

At McCownGordon Construction, healthy competition can be a big motivator. The Kansas City company not only offers a healthy market, biometric screenings, Garmin activity trackers and an on-site fitness center with a steam room and sauna, but it participates in Kansas City Corporate Challenge and hosts regular fitness challenges among employees. One recent competition included a walking challenge where employees teamed up to compete for big prizes.

“There’s a special bond that forms when competing as a team for a flag football championship or a track meet,” said Nancy Whitworth, vice president, Human Resources. “That team spirit carries over into the workplace.”

Whitworth said that programs like Vitality, the company’s interactive wellness program, not only reward employees with material prizes but also the pride in achieving a personal goal. Plus, insurance premiums stayed flat at the company in 2016, and she believes wellness played a role in that.

“Wellness is smart business,” she said, “but our main concern is for the wellbeing of our associates and their families. We’re a family, and we care about each other.”

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