employee perks are often the first thing to go. - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Employees And Employers Are Reaping The Benefits Of Low-Cost Health And Wellness Perks

We’re in a time when it seems the only job benefit that matters is actually having a job. As employers look for ways to cut costs, employee perks are often the first thing to go. As a result, stress increases and morale declines.

However, many local employers are taking advantage of low or no-cost simple wellness programs and finding that they go a long way toward creating a positive culture within their companies. Allowing employees time during their day to escape and rejuvenate leads to a higher level of productivity, a less-stressed work force and improved overall morale in the workplace.

In a time when many people are now wearing more hats than ever — and putting in extra hours — wellness programs offer a very high return on investment. A healthier staff means fewer sick days, lower health insurance costs and increased productivity.

At Shea Homes, on-site yoga is just one of the many low-cost ways the company uses to engage employees and encourage healthy behaviors. Mike McCormack, vice president of human resources for Shea Homes Active Lifestyles Communities, says some of the other programs the company offers include lunch-and-learn sessions, companywide 10,000-step contests, wellness teleseminars and holiday potlucks.

“It’s no secret that our industry has been particularly affected by the economy,” he says. “The little things we’re still able to offer have gone a long way in helping our employees feel appreciated. The positive feedback has been overwhelming and attendance has remained strong among both women and men. We see our wellness programs as having a lasting benefit at Shea Homes.”

At Henkel’s headquarters for Consumer Goods in Scottsdale, employee health and wellness seems to be engineered into the building. A roof garden provides employees a getaway from their work area where they can take in some fresh air, eat lunch, visit with co-workers, or even work. The building also features an on-site fitness center. The yoga room at the Henkel facility is the former IT training room, a conversion made by CEO Brad Casper in response to greater demand for the classes. Henkel also offers weekly hip-hop dance fitness classes and on-site chair massages, both of which are a big hit among the employees.

“The wellness classes also provide a way for people to interact and foster friendships with colleagues that they may have not otherwise connected with and in a different way,” says Natalie Violi, director of corporate communications at Henkel. “We are seeing people in different functions and varied levels of the organization take the classes.”

Nicole Nelson, human resources recruiting manager at Henkel, says, “Henkel fully embraces employee wellness programs as they provide ongoing benefits from an employee and employer standpoint. These programs continue to strengthen employee morale and help bring balance to everyday work-life.”

Now more than ever, employees are thankful for the little things their employers are doing to keep them motivated and offer an outlet for stress. It’s a win-win for everyone. A healthier, happier staff equals a healthier, happier organization.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

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About Ali Kamen

Ali Kamen is the owner and principal of Zenergy Yoga of Scottsdale. She is a veteran youth and adult fitness and yoga instructor with over 15 years of combined experience. Ali earned a Master’s degree in Public Health and has been a public health educator for the past decade. Ali began her yoga practice at home for many years before finally experiencing yoga in a studio in 2002. After becoming a mom, Ali found yoga helped her keep her life as a wife and working mom in balance. Ali’s classes are a challenging, vinyasa flow style with a variety of 70's, 80's and current alternative music to keep her students inspired and energized. Ali has found a new passion in introducing yoga to children and teens. As an Arizona State certified teacher and Radiant Child™ yoga instructor, Ali has a true talent for keeping young students engaged, while learning simple life skills, such as relaxation, balance, and breath work. Ali practices these skills with her two little daughters who are both practicing yoginis. A former marathon runner, Ali has found that yoga has added balance and strength to her exercise regimen and calmness and clarity to her multi-tasking life. For more information, visit www.zenergyyoga.net.