How a Top Employer Shows It Cares There’s ample evidence that a healthier workforce leads to a healthier bottom line. But for Mark Nishiyama, there was a deeper reason to foster an employee wellness program. As co-owner and Vice President of Kamaʻaina Kids, a non-profit childcare provider established in 1987, Mark views workplace wellness as a key aspect of an employer’s responsibility toward its employees. To Mark’s way of thinking, “[a wellness program] is for the good of the employee, much like pre-paid health care.” It should come as no surprise that performance and retention improve when employees feel that they are being cared for, but for Mark those benefits are secondary to helping improve his employees’ well-being and quality of life. Still, as an employer of 800 workers state-wide, instituting a company-wide wellness plan represented a significant commitment on Kamaʻaina Kids’ part. Frustrated with the time and effort required to create and support a consistent company wellness program, Mark contracted UHA Health Insurance to help bring their program back to life. “Working with the UHA Workplace Wellness team was the best thing we did. They made it easy and fun by helping us identify our wellness goals and collaborating on solutions to get us there,” says Mark. Participants report a 40% improvement in their exercise habits over a 12-month period starting in October 2014, Kamaʻaina Kids worked with UHA to implement the following five wellness solutions:
- Assessment & Plan – a comprehensive assessment and plan that reviews workplace policies, performance, and staff perspectives.
- Personal Fitness BodyAge® Assessment (Fitness Profile) – This assessment employs 5 measures to evaluate individuals’ health and provides high level recommendations for improvement.
- Champion Program – for select individuals within the organization, training is provided to encourage them to act as agents of change by inspiring, motivating and supporting their peers and spreading the message of wellness through their own personal experiences.
- Wellness Challenge – a customized intervention tailored to the organization’s goals to help support employees in creating and completing small, achievable fitness and nutrition goals.
- Value on Investment (VOI) – offers a comparison of metrics to demonstrate program value and outcomes.
At the end of the 12-month period 40% of Kamaʻaina Kids’ employees reported that their healthy habits improved in exercise, 39% in eating healthier, and 21% in improved sleep. While these early results are anecdotal, they point to an improvement in morale and a harbinger of even better things to come. One striking example of the program’s success is Jolena Tanuvasa, employed by Kamaʻaina Kids as a Site Coordinator for almost 17 years. Since starting the company challenge, Jolena lost 90 pounds by seeking help from a nutritionist and friend. She recognized her stress eating habits and became better equipped to choose healthier options. Walking, hiking and lifting weights became her routine. Of taking on the challenge, Jolena says: “We have learned as a team that it helps to look out for each other, share recipes, exercise tips, motivate, and give each other advice. We have grown stronger as a site and are more aware of what’s healthy and what’s not.” Mark adds, “We’ve had numerous employee success stories, but Jolena’s story is remarkable. I’ve seen her also grow in confidence and belief in herself and even step up to become our spokesperson on our Keiki Talk KHON2 segments.” Becoming an employer of choice means being able to consistently attract and retain the best candidates for employment. But Kamaʻaina Kids’ example shows that there are other benefits to looking after your employees’ health and wellness that, while perhaps less tangible, are no less rewarding.
Kamaʻaina Kids is one of the largest childcare providers in the State of Hawaiʻi, serving 9,700 children and families across the state’s multiple islands. In addition to the pre-school and elementary after school programs, Kamaʻaina Kids also provides hotel child care, kayak tours and rentals, and camping. Their mission is to serve children, families, and the community by providing ongoing quality education and enrichment to help build a sense of self, community, and environment. Stay tuned for a more detailed case study on Kamaʻaina Kids’ program.
Workplace Wellness is a Win-Win
Midweek interviewed Mark Nishiyama, CEO of Kama’aina Kids about his experience with implementing workplace wellness.