Healthiest Employers 2019 – 250-499 employees
Crane Agency’s wellness program isn’t trying to drastically change your life.
It just wants you to walk a few more steps each day, take a few more coffee breaks and make a few more friends at the office.
Over the years, the $41 million insurance agency has won several awards for its wellness and engagement program. Instead of promoting intense fitness goals, the program hosts various social events that encourage its 269 employees (258 locally) to take small steps toward improving their mental and physical well-being.
“It’s not grilling into them things that they have to do on a daily basis,” said Margot Gruenewald, director of human resources. “Rather, it’s trying to bring people together to do a wide plethora of things that help the mind, body and soul.”
The program encourages individual health (flu shots, biometric screenings), charitable giving (annual volunteering events) and social engagement (last summer, employees teamed up to explore St. Louis in a companywide scavenger hunt). Recently, Crane Agency brought massage chairs into the office so everyone could take a 15-minute massage break. Employees active with the wellness program can win gift cards and get matching payments on their gym memberships.
HR Assistant Lisa Wilke, who organizes the wellness program, said the social events indirectly improve people’s health. She has seen employees bond through the events, then form groups to take walks or go to the gym together.
Gruenewald knows the process from experience. When she served in the Marines, she could easily run 10 miles a day. But staying fit became harder after she joined corporate life. A self-proclaimed workaholic, Gruenewald spent most of her 17 years at Crane Agency glued to her desk. She would enter the office before 9 a.m. and not leave until 6, 7 or 8 p.m. — sometimes much later.
This April, Gruenewald began consistently working out after encouragement from Wilke.
“For the last four months, I have gotten out of the routine of just sitting here at my desk, working and stressing out, and I’ve been joining people and going to the gym with them, just to get in the right frame of mind,” she said.
The incremental changes have paid off — Gruenewald has lost 10 pounds, and now hits the gym two to three times a week.
“No, I never dropped 30 pounds; no, I don’t look like Angelina Jolie,” she said. “But I can tell you that my attitude’s better, I think my work is better, and I’ve gotten to know my population a little bit more, because before I was not getting out of my office.”
Wilke said this kind of social engagement is what the program is all about.
“I think that sometimes mental well-being and social well-being get overlooked when you’re only focusing on the physical,” she said. “And while we do want to promote that, you need to look at the whole person.”
How do you keep your employees engaged in the wellness initiatives? “We keep metrics on the number of participants we have for our activities, and if we have good participation, we continue to do those. We constantly do surveys and listen to informal employee feedback. Then we apply that to what we decide to do the following year in terms of engagement and wellness activities.” – Lisa Wilke, Crane Agency