Railinc’s twice-weekly, onsite boot camp is more fun than Richie Stewart, the company’s IT manager, expected. He had been an avid cyclist and had done plenty of group rides in the past, but he was used to the solitude of long rides or individual workouts at the gym.
“I’ve been amazed at how much I enjoy going to boot camp with my coworkers,” Stewart said “They support you and encourage you. And they hold you accountable.”
Since one of his colleagues convinced him to attend a boot camp session, Richie has lost 40 pounds.
The free boot camp, led by a trainer from O2 Fitness, is part of Railinc’s Wellness Program, started in 2012. The voluntary program gives employees and their families resources to get active, make healthy lifestyle choices and save money.
It also earns the company recognition.
For the fifth consecutive year, Railinc has been named one the Triangle Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers. The company was No. 12 on the list for 2017 and has been among the top 15 healthiest employers in the region four times in five years.
Railinc was recognized with the other winners at a luncheon at The Rickhouse in Durham on Oct. 19.
Employee Input Encourages Participation
Employees drive nearly all Railinc wellness initiatives. The company’s 11-person wellness team includes employees from across the company who meet regularly to plan activities and share feedback. Employee involvement in setting the program agenda helps boost participation: Railinc has had 100 percent employee participation each of the last two years.
The team adds new activities every year. Last year, Railinc started an in-house Weight Watchers program. Twenty-three people participated in the first 19-week series; 21 participated in the second series that began in early 2017, losing a combined 252 pounds. Railinc defrays part of the program’s cost for employees who sign up within the first two weeks of the series. This year, the wellness team created a dedicated meditation space.
Railinc's Wellness Team and other Railinc employees at the 2017 Healthiest Employers luncheon.
Other activities and resources that are part of Railinc’s Wellness Program include:
- Free onsite boot camps led by a trainer from O2 Fitness
- Free onsite yoga
- Year-round deliveries of free fresh fruit
- An annual 5K run and walk
- Free Fitbits for full-time employees and fitness contests with prizes
- An onsite fitness center
- Subsidized gym memberships
- Weight Watchers at Work
- Chair massages
- Nutrition counseling
- Sports teams, including softball and cricket
“The company culture at Railinc embraces wellness and staying active,” said Nicole Jesserer, a business analyst who has participated as a player and coach in softball. “Whatever you like to do, chances are good that you’ll find some of your co-workers are already participating in that activity.”
That’s the point. The wellness program’s breadth of offerings supports participation by all and helps to make wellness a cornerstone of Railinc’s culture. Not everyone runs marathons or cycles at lunch or does pushups in the parking lot at boot camp. The program offers employees an array of choices for how they can get involved. This approach gives employees access to resources that fit their needs and has improved program engagement.
Sometimes activities emerge without the program’s involvement. When Brian Childs organized lunchtime ultimate Frisbee last year, he was just hoping to get a regular game going. Interest was high, and he eventually got support from Railinc to buy supplies. About 20 employees turn out each week.
“I thought if we could run the games in a low-key fashion and get everyone playing, that would be fun,” said Childs, a business analyst. “It’s been over a year now, and I think we’ve played every week. Most of the time, it’s twice a week. I’ve gotten to know my coworkers better, and it’s opened me up to a lot more people.”
Healthy Employees Help Keep Costs Low
Healthy employees also have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, employees who reported having a strong culture of health at work were more likely to report being happy, less likely to report that stress has a negative impact on their work, and less likely to cite the work environment as an obstacle to health.
The program has enabled Railinc to better manage its health care costs in recent years and to continue to keep health insurance premiums low. For example, a Railinc employee will spend an average of $2,260 less per year on health care than their peers at similar companies; employees who insure their families through Railinc will spend $8,650 less. Railinc also provides employees and their families with free dental and vision coverage, as well as free confidential counseling.
“It’s exciting to be recognized again for our wellness program,” said Kristen Sandstrom, Railinc’s director of human resources. “We’ve always placed a high priority on health insurance. Our Wellness Program has helped us build on that, making an impact on our employees’ health and their wallets and supporting a positive workplace culture. We’re proud of that.”
—Railinc Corporate Communications