SIDNEY — The American Heart Association, Miami Valley Division (AHA) has named Emerson Climate Technologies’ Sidney location a Gold Achievement Fit-Friendly Work Site.
“The Fit-Friendly Companies program recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees and work to create a culture of physical activity and health in the workplace,” according to the AHA website.
Lesia Arnett, a board member of the AHA Miami Valley Division, presented a plaque to Dwane Rowley, Emerson wellness manager, during ceremonies at the Campbell Road facility, Wednesday.
It was the culmination of four years of work by an Emerson team to make their workplace one that offers an holistic approach to its employees’ health and wellness.
“There was a realization that we could and should be offering a better wellness program for the entire employee base in Sidney. We wanted people to be more active,” said David Conover, vice president of air conditioning. A wellness committee was established in 2012.
“We started in order to develop a wellness strategy and to set direction of what we wanted to accomplish,” said Conover. “We went through a very large effort, benchmarking local and regional companies. We made site visits and asked lots of questions about what worked and what didn’t work.”
With support of Emerson’s senior leadership, who approved a major capital investment, the committee hired a full-time wellness manager in 2014 and added a fitness center to the facility in 2015. Dwane Rowley has a Bachelor of Science in sports management and wellness from Otterbein University.
According to Rowley, the wellness program, called Vitality, comprises more than the fitness center. Healthy choice meals are now an option in the company cafeteria. Diametric screenings are available on site. Online courses provide information on nutrition, mental health and smoking cessation.
“Education is a significant part — helping people be self-aware of how they can take responsiblity for their own well-being,” Conover said.
The program, which is voluntary, runs on a point system. Participants earn points by working out in the fitness center, taking a fitness center class, wearing a fitness tracker, selecting healthy lunches or purchasing fruits and vegetables at a specific Sidney grocery. The points are redeemable for gift cards and fitness devices, Rowley said.
To date, almost 1,000 of the firm’s 1,500 local employees have signed on to at least one part of the wellness program. The fitness center is open to employees at all times. They can become members for a $3 per week fee. Membership allows them to use the fitness center on their own time. Participation in Vitality is free.
“We partnered with an outside company,” which tracks the points and selects the online courses for Emerson to make available, said Cathy Bevan, vice president of human resources.
Another company and the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA provide teachers for the classes in the fitness center, which include Zumba, cross-training, yoga and Pilates, among others.
“We have a long relationship with the YMCA. We purposely reached out to them to be a part of the programming when we did something onsite,” said Conover. Emerson employees have long received a discount price on YMCA memberships.
“Some join (the Emerson fitness center), some join the Y and some join both,” said Samantha Cianciolo, manager of compensation and benefits at Emerson.
Employees have been quick to sing the praises of the program.
“Now I am 90 pounds lighter, walking up to six miles a day, and my physical age is only a couple years older than actual. All of this because of what I learned by using Vitality,” said Bruce Adamson, of Troy.
“The absolute biggest positive for me has been no more Monday headaches. Every Monday for over a year for whatever rhyme or reason, I would have a headache, but since starting working out, the Monday headaches are gone completely,” said Dan Heindel, of Celina.
Adam Zimmerman, of Sidney, appreciates that the fitness center is close by.
“It’s been about a year since I started, and I’ve seen some great improvements to my energy levels and mood, especially during the wintertime. I’m really thankful that we have such an awesome opportunity on site,” he said.
The Wellness Committee oversees Vitality, meeting monthly to assess projects and track data. Conover, Cianciolo, Bevan and Rowley all sit on the committee, along with Len Hubbard, vice president of procurement, and Ann Runner, vice president of human resources.
The American Heart Association award means a lot to the committee and to Emerson.
“It recognizes that we are trying to offer something to employees that will benefit them and also benefits the company,” Bevan said.
It’s the first time Emerson has been honored with an award related to fitness and wellness, Cianciolo added. The association annually honors companies with gold, platinum, worksite innovation and community innovation awards.
“It emphasizes to the employee base that Emerson really does care about the health and fitness of its employees,” said Cathy Billings, corporate marketing communications manager.
Rowley hopes that the award is another reason to make Vitality even better than it is now. His goal is to “keep growing the program and see what the next steps are,” he said. Qualifiying for awards is secondary to the benefits a focus on wellness brings to Emerson workers.
“We’re excited about the recognition, but the important part is having a healthier employee base,” Conover said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.