Sit for 60, Move for 3: Health and Wellness Initiatives at American Megatrends
It seems that almost daily we hear news reports and medical studies informing us that our office work environments and daily habits are negatively affecting our health. Too much stress, too much staring at computer screens, poor dietary choices, ever-extending commute times, lack of sleep, not enough opportunities to move our bodies and not enough free time or vacation all seem to be combining and interacting with each other to degrade our health and wellbeing both inside and outside the workplace.
In response, many companies are taking action, realizing that the health and wellness of their employees have a direct impact on productivity and the bottom line. As a company, American Megatrends is doing the same; encouragingly, each year that passes sees corporate-level efforts to increase and improve employee wellness gravitate to a higher level and involve a greater number of AMI staff.
In today’s AMI Tech Blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the initiatives and programs that our company has adopted over the years to focus on and improve employee health and wellness. A key component in the efforts to improve wellness at American Megatrends’ US headquarters office in Norcross, Georgia is the AMI Wellness Committee. This panel of AMI employees from every area of the company was established in 2014 and meets once a month to discuss and promote wellness initiatives at AMI.
Almost all the health and wellness initiatives conducted at AMI over the years have come from the AMI Wellness Committee’s meetings, whose members then report back to their individual teams and workgroups for feedback and ideas from throughout the office. It started out as a small effort of a few dedicated individuals, and despite some trial-and-error along the way, a strong awareness and commitment to employee health and wellness has become firmly entrenched in the office culture at AMI’s US headquarters office.
One of the most popular events at the company since it was introduced roughly five years ago is participation in the annual Kaiser Permanente Run/Walk event, sponsored by the company’s health care provider and taking place each September in downtown Atlanta. This event is a 5K non-competitive "race" that allows participating employees from organizations throughout the metro area to walk or run the course together with their colleagues in a fun, non-intimidating atmosphere that encourages group participation and training during the months leading up to the event.
On the day of the event, the colorful team T-shirts from companies throughout the metro Atlanta area, live music, creative hats and costumes and relaxed atmosphere combine for a great opportunity to promote wellness in a fun and festive environment. Each year the number of AMI employees participating has grown and the company now rents several buses to transport AMI team members to and from the event, providing another opportunity for bonding and enjoyment.
An offshoot of this event was the establishment of a semi-annual "Walk AMI" competition that has taken several formats over the years. Its goal is to encourage employees to break for walks throughout the day and aim for a minimum personal goal of 10,000 steps per day. This event typically separates participants into several teams, tracking their combined number of steps over several weeks to choose an eventual winner. As in any inter-office competition the rivalry is fierce and motivated employees can be seen circling the office park at all hours of the workday during the contest, taking a short break from work to try and bank as many steps as they can for their teams.
Another initiative related to wellness at AMI has been the creation of an online wellness newsletter called "For Your Health" that is released periodically and available for employees to view on the company’s intranet website. It highlights news and events related to wellness activities in and outside the company, offers healthy recipes and exercise tips, reviews useful wellness-related apps and gadgets, conducts surveys on employees’ attitudes towards different wellness initiatives and spotlights employees who have taken steps to improve their health and wellness through exercise, weight loss or overcoming negative health habits.
Additionally, a dedicated room now exists in the headquarters building as the hub for these activities, known as the Wellness Room. It contains literature on wellness and healthy living, reference material on the company's health plan, digital scales and other health monitoring equipment and results and photos from corporate wellness activities like “Walk AMI” and the KP Run/Walk. The company has also set aside a comfortable and private Lactation Room with curtains, soft lighting and cozy recliners for nursing mothers to take time for this important duty during the workday.
Other initiatives promoted by the AMI Wellness Committee are too numerous to list and would require another blog post to describe each one in detail, but include activities like "Fruit Day" where free organic fruit was delivered to the office periodically, a plan to transition to healthy snacks and drinks in the vending machines throughout the office, periodic timed "Sit for 60, Move for 3" prompts for stretch breaks encouraging employees to get up from their office chairs throughout the day and twice monthly yoga sessions led by veteran employee practitioners of the gentle art. In partnership with our healthcare provider, the AMI Wellness Committee has coordinated biometric screenings of vital health information for all employees, annual onsite flu shots and more.
What are you doing at your company, school or home to be more proactive about health and wellness? After reading this post, do you have any suggestions for AMI on how we could improve our own internal employee health and wellness programs? Drop us a line via social media or our Contact Us form and let us know and as always, thanks for reading!