Keeping Employees Healthy: Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s Wellness Program

A growing trend among some of the nation’s most progressive businesses is the inclusion of wellness programs. Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) is also “Responding to the Call to Serve” members by encouraging healthy lifestyles among its employees, and the payoff is showing up in increased productivity and lower healthcare expenses.

“REC’s wellness program has existed for over ten years,” said Eva Wiggins-Greene, Vice President of Human Resources, Personnel, Benefits, and Accounting.  “However, within the last four to five years, we have enhanced it.”

“Our wellness program is designed for REC employees, spouses, and the Board of Directors. For members, we promote a healthier lifestyle by offering healthy catering options at events and meetings.  One example has been modifying a staple part of our Annual Meeting—the catered meal—with healthier alternatives.  Also, we include health and wellness tips in our newsletters and on social media.”

REC offers various nutrition classes, including onsite nutrition classes for employees (which Vidant Health sponsors) and the Nutri Moves program.  Several years ago, employees completed an onsite Weight Watchers class that was very successful.

Other wellness options include participating in walking and group challenges; utilizing REC’s onsite, state of the art fitness center; and the walking track located at the back of the facility.  “During the summer of 2014, we offered ‘Fresh Fruit Friday,’ which provides free fruit to all employees each Friday.  We also have a wellness library where employees can check out wellness videos and books.”

REC has also offered line dancing, Person getting Blood pressure checkedZumba classes, and 5K Run/Walk competitions during the year in surrounding areas. Other activities include an onsite fitness day and the Fitbit Challenge in 2014. “Since REC invests in health and wellness, these events are included as part of our health and wellness plan. The savings from our health premiums help offset the cost of the program and incentives.”

This program also offers speakers on wellness-related topics.  “Occasionally, we invite speakers to educate employees about stress management, disease management, exercise and insurance education. All employees met with a health coach in January to establish a personal wellness plan, and a progress follow-up plan will occur in June 2015.   Currently, wellness is included in our corporate strategy to encourage employees to set and reach long-term goals over the next four years.”

REC’s wellness program will be ongoing. “Employees lead the charge in helping the organization reach its goals to bring top-notch service to our members. We value healthy, productive and engaged employees. Our wellness program is a win-win for REC and our employees.” Greene explained the connection between being healthy and job productivity. “Clearly, employee attendance and productivity is closely connected to employee health. Healthier employees lead to better attendance, increased productivity, improved work performance, increased morale, decreased healthcare costs, higher customer satisfaction, and ultimately a healthier bottom line.”

“Vidant conducts annual health screenings, which allows employees to set goals to improve health.”

The trends are showing that the wellness program is helping employees.  “Numbers for the following risk factors have declined:  high cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight/obesity and tobacco use. The number of employees using tobacco products has declined significantly. This coincides with our status as a Smoke Free/Drug Free facility.  Employees, vendors or visitors are not allowed to use tobacco products on our facility grounds or in our vehicles.”

REC also receives several services from Vidant Health in Ahoskie and Greenville, North Carolina.  “These services include individual health coach support, health assessments and wellness/preventive programs.”

Roanoke Electric Cooperative is an electric utility providing service to 14,000 people in Bertie, Hertford, Halifax, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan Counties.  To learn more about the numerous exciting initiatives they have on tap, please visit www.roanokeelectric.com/thecall2021

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