Great Job: Healthy Workplaces

By Lambeth Hochwald, Joyce Hendley, M.S., Sylvia Geiger, M.S., R.D., "Great Job," May/June 2007

Eating well at work has never been so easy or delicious, thanks to innovative employers like these.

Weight-Loss Leaders. Anyone with some pounds to lose will also feel supported. The Blittersdorfs were so convinced of the transformative power of VTrim™, the University of Vermont weight-loss program, that company now helps foot the bill for any employee who wants to enroll in the program. (VTrim’s principles are combined with EatingWell’s recipes in The EatingWell Diet, a new book by Jean Harvey Berino, Ph.D., R.D.)

NRG’s health-friendly, green working environment is also a natural draw for potential hires, says Julie Goodheart, human resources manager. “In interviews, I’ll always ask people why they chose us,” she says. “They’ll usually mention the green building, and that they want a healthy place to work.”

Larry Jacobs, a member of NRG’s sales and marketing department, would concur. “I’m in better shape now than I was seven years ago,” he says. “They’ve really put a lot of thought into making it easy to stay healthy at work.” Jacobs, 47, usually starts his morning at 6:30, working out on the StairMaster and cross-training machines. He lifts weights or does some stretches, then showers and heads to the kitchen to fix himself a bowl of oatmeal. By 8:30, he’s at his desk, energized. Weather permitting, he’ll take a walk along the nearby “pond loop” at lunchtime, and enjoy his home-cooked lunch on the terrace al fresco. “Sometimes, I’ll come in on the weekends for a workout, then stay to get work done.” For that matter, he adds, “it’s productive for the company too.”

But even if an employee doesn’t get involved in the healthy-eating, weight-loss and fitness benefits NRG offers, Jan Blittersdorf understands. “It took me over 10 years to finally decide to do something about my weight, so I don’t sweat it if we provide an opportunity and someone doesn’t take advantage of it. I now understand that they might eventually do it, and I won’t give up on them or pass judgment on them.

“Of course, they have to be motivated,” she adds, but “providing opportunity at low hassle is half the battle.”

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