Wellness Is Good Business

Getting enough exercise, eating right, and making healthy choices are certainly personal decisions made on personal time.
Its not common to see the workplace take an interest in our health.
One local employer whose taking a different tack.
Washoe County School District has had a wellness program for more than ten years now.
Its unique style, participation rates, and success are what books and magazine articles are literally made.
When he first started working at the School District as Senior Accountant, Darcy Burton says he wasn't very healthy.
Overweight, smoker, and with a family history of diabetes and heart disease in his family this is what he looked like. These days he's seventy pounds lighter and more active, all with the help of the Wellness Program here.
Aaron Hardy has been the Wellness Coordinator since 2000. He says 7200 people participate in the program, both current employees and retired. Because the program is internet based, Aaron keeps busy at the keyboard developing programs designed to make only slight health changes...but when added up can mean a better quality of life.
Hardy says the program wasn't initially embraced by everyone. But a 40-dollar fee is waived if the participated in annual screening. Teams have been set up for exercise, nutrition, and other healthy programs which last no more than 8-weeks at a time. And in the end there are incentives like t-shirts water bottles and fleece blankets.
Research on the program show for every dollar spent, 13-dollars was saved in absenteeism in the last two years.
In its 13-year history the Wellness Program has saved taxpayers a total of three-point-one-million dollars.