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How losing 100 pounds sent one employee over the edge (and other wellness best practices)

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in Employee Benefits Program,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Team Building

A fitness technician with Peoria, Ariz.-based Brookdale Senior Living lost 100 pounds in a weight-loss competition to snag the grand prize: his first skydive.

D’Artagnan Lopez participated in the 12-week contest but it took him eight months to lose enough weight to be allowed to skydive. Once he reached his goal, the organization rewarded him by springing for the jump.

“It was pure rush,” Lopez says.

About 4,000 employees participated in the contest, sponsored by Brookdale’s parent organization, Innovative Senior Care. The group lost a collective 30,000 pounds. The winner was allowed to choose his own reward.

Contact: Sara Terry, VP of Optimum Life, at (866) 785-9025.

Employee wellness committees focus on community service

At PCL Construction in Denver, employees decide which wellness programs the organization will offer.

Employee-run wellness committees at each corporate location focus on physical, financial and community wellness, as well as team building. The volunteers line up community service projects, Lunch ‘n’ Learn seminars, retirement planning classes, holiday parties and company trips.

Every three years, the organization conducts a survey to learn what employees want. One result, says HR Director Denny Dahl, is the firm’s focus on community service.

Example: When the firm’s 260 Denver employees contributed $600,000 to the United Way, the organization matched it.

The firm encourages employees to volunteer 35 hours a year for community projects during work time. It even arranges for employees to serve meals at local rescue missions and paint the homes of elderly neighbors.

Contact: HR Director Denny Dahl at

Fitness classes cut employee use of prescription medicines

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Rockville, Md., has figured out a way to reduce its employees’ reliance on medication: fitness classes.

Since the nonprofit association for speech-language professionals began offering exercise classes to its 250 employees, fewer are using the health plan to pay for medicines for high blood pressure and other conditions that sometimes can be controlled with diet and exercise.

The association invites hospital techs to test employees—at work—for high blood pressure, low bone density and high cholesterol. Test results go to the employees rather than to anyone at the association, said Executive Director Arlene Pietranton.

Six-week classes include dance, yoga and cardio and strength training, which employees can take on-site during lunch for $35 to $60. In addition, Weight Watchers has offered meetings at the office for about five years.

Contact: Arlene Pietranton at (888) 498-6699.

Read more best-practices success stories like these every month in HR Specialist's Compensation & Benefits newsletter.

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