Wegmans Trims Employees, Pads Bottom Line With Health Programs

Most companies these days provide incentives for healthy living, but Wegmans is raising the bar. The regional supermarket chain offers a range of wellness programs and optional health screenings not only to executives and corporate higher-ups, but to all employees across the board. And it's keeping the retailer's finances in shape, too.

The program started several years ago, when CEO Danny Wegman, grandson of the chain's co-founder, made it a priority to ensure the health and fitness of his workers. Since then, the retailer has been providing things like blood pressure and nutrition coaching and even on-site yoga and Zumba classes.

"It's just a lifestyle change that Wegmans helped initiate for me," Mark Novelli, a 55-year-old maintenance man at a Wegmans, told The Huffington Post of the 35 pounds he's lost. "I just needed help in not eating cake and pizza every day. I was large, now I'm medium or small."

Wegman likes to talk about his company's responsibility to society, but there is, of course, a positive impact on the bottom line as well. Employers lost more than half a trillion dollars last year as a result of workers' poor health, and it's estimated that company's that spend money on wellness programs make $3.27 on average for every dollar they invest.

So far, the program seems to be very effective. From 2008 to 2013, Wegmans has seen the share of its employees with high blood pressure drop from 24 percent to 14 percent, with similar improvements to numbers of employees with a high Body Mass Index.

The effort echoes the healthy-living message that Wegmans puts out to customers. The chain marks its own food brands for high fiber and high calcium in an attempt to encourage shoppers to make healthy decisions, while none of the retailer's 81 stores has sold cigarettes since 2008.

"It aligns with our mission as a business," said Becky Lyons, Wegmans' director of health and wellness. "We're a food company and we see it as part of our role to make healthier meals available, and for us that extends to our employees as well."

For more:

- See this Huffington Post story

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