For 30-year-old Jessica LaPoint, August 2014 was a pivotal month.
That month she joined Rockler Companies, Inc., a Medina-based woodworking and hardware business headquartered in west Hennepin County. As soon as she joined, she immediately stepped up her physical fitness regimen with Rock ‘N’ Health, the company’s employee health promotion program.
People spend a third of their time at work, so workplace wellness programs can have a real impact on their health.
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Just one year later, LaPoint has shaved two minutes off her 5K time and is edging toward an age-group podium finish. She’s maintaining a healthy weight and has turned her nine-year-old son Skyler, into something of an exercise aficionado, too. She also now leads the Rock ‘N’ Health program for Rockler.
When she thinks back to 2010’s Green Lake Duathlon, her first attempt to reclaim her fitness after Skyler was born, LaPoint grimaces. “It was awful. It was the worst day of my life,” she says. She laughs as she recalls being passed by a person with a basket and flag on their bike. By the last leg of the race, she was in last place. When she finally crossed the finish line, the inflatable archway had been taken down, and the bike racks were empty.
Since then she’s joined a gym, where she regularly works out. She’s shed 20 excess pounds and has completed many more races. Equally as important, she now works at a company that promotes employee wellness.
In 2015, Rockler won a Hennepin County Wellness by Design award for its employee health promotion efforts. Watch Rockler’s award video.
“There are a lot of benefits that you can get from a wellness program,” said Brenda Mattson, Rockler’s HR director. “Certainly you can improve the camaraderie and the teamwork. But you also can reduce your absenteeism, your short-term disability claims rate, your medical claims, and your lost time accidents and injury rates. These are real dollars that do contribute to your bottom line, so it’s absolutely worth it. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”
In the years since its launch, Rockler has regularly refined its wellness program. Employees can receive biometric screenings, flu shots and health assessments. And Rockler uses many of Hennepin County’s Health@Work programming ideas. In spring 2015, for example, Rockler participated in Hennepin’s four-week Step To It Challenge, a fitness competition between local communities. During the challenge, Rockler offered employees discounted pedometers and gave them plastic fish each time they walked the one-mile track encircling company headquarters. At the end of the month, employees had doubled the number of steps they’d taken during the previous year’s competition, and Rockler threw a poker party, letting employees trade their fish for playing cards.
During late 2014, Rockler also took part in Hennepin’s Frosty Challenge, an eight-week winter weight maintenance campaign. The 60 participants lost a total of 118 pounds.
These efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2015, Rockler was awarded Hennepin County’s Wellness by Design Award for its health promotion efforts. Sonja Savre, who heads the award program, explains that Rockler serves as an example for companies who are on the fence about starting a health promotion program. Rockler is helping prove that it doesn’t take much money or effort to run one and that the pay-off can be significant.
In July 2015, LaPoint tackled her newest fitness challenge: Willmar’s The Slide & Glide 5K, an untimed run/walk with inflatable slides and obstacle courses. It was a family affair. Skyler and LaPoint’s 67-year-old mother tagged along, too, and the trio laughed as they slid and bounced through the course.
Hennepin County Public Health Health@Work offers a broad range of low- and no-cost workplace wellness programs and services for employers in Hennepin County. For more information visit Health@Work.