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How an insurance company made wellness a policy

It’s an age-old question: How do you inject a culture of wellness into an office environment, where sitting at a desk all day long is part and parcel of the workspace? The answer for TD Insurance in Saint John was to commit to wellness goals, allow employees the time and support to put the wellness program in place, and, of course, some energetic volunteers to inspire their coworkers into action!

Since 2009, TD Insurance has developed a true wellness movement throughout the workplace. A wellness committee was formed, dedicated to the promotion of four focus areas of wellness: mental fitness and resilience, healthy eating, physical activity, and tobacco-free living. They have initiated a number of programs, fairs and challenges to promote these focus areas.

In support of tobacco-free living, they launched an annual Quit Smoking Campaign in 2010, which led to four employees successfully kicking the habit that year, with a further nine butting out in 2011. Successful quitters were highlighted on office TVs as Quitter of the Month and each received a certificate and a prize at the end of the year.

A number of initiatives were launched to encourage employees to engage in physical activity. The Get Moving contest saw employees tracking the hours they spent participating in physical activity. At the end of each month, the most active team would receive yogurt parfaits and gift certificates. Meanwhile, the Caught in Motion program saw a monthly photo snapped of an employee going to the gym or out for walks during their lunch hours. The photos were posted on company TVs and those “caught in the act” were given gift certificates for the onsite cafeteria.

Collective exercise was also encouraged. The company has been running a very successful fitness boot camp four times a week for the last two years and promoted a Winter Wonderland Day, where employees were encouraged to go snowshoeing together at Saint John’s Rockwood Park.

Healthy eating initiatives include an office Water Drinking Challenge, free fresh fruit provided weekly throughout October, a healthy lunch swap and a healthy pot luck. To address a key aspect of mental fitness and resilience, TD plans a number of activities to foster a sense of relatedness amongst employees and their families. These include activities such as Minute to Win it games in the cafeteria and Fall Fun, whereby employees are encouraged to have an electronic-free night to spend with their families, partaking in activities such as a hike, a family dinner or a board game. Participants email details of their evening for a chance to win a prize.

A Wellness Fair, blood pressure clinic, daily health tips sent via email, and participation in the Movember program to promote men’s health round out the impressive list of wellness activities TD Insurance has incorporated into the workplace.

Supervisors have observed that morale is up and absenteeism is down, and plans are in place to create employee testimonials to inspire others. TD Insurance is a great example of what some fixed goals, willing volunteers, and supportive employers can do for wellness in the workplace.

Related websites and resources…

The Workplace Wellness Movement in New Brunswick

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