Twenty-five years ago, General Mills began a simple program for sales employees called the “TriHealthalon” with the goal of changing the unhealthy habits of the General Mills sales team. By fostering friendly competition among co-workers, the TriHealthalon encouraged employees to make healthy lifestyle changes. Employees who joined the program were challenged to stop smoking, change their diet, and wear seatbelts. From these humble beginnings, General Mills emerged as a leader and champion in employee wellness.
Today, General Mills has a mature wellness program with one very simple, flexible goal: to nourish lives. More specifically, the wellness program seeks to improve and enrich the lives of its workers by making them healthier. How does this approach to wellness work?
Targeted support: General Mills is a global company with 42,000 employees worldwide. Wellness efforts for employees vary by country and region so that employees get the kind of wellness support they need.
Education: General Mills puts power back in the hands of its people by teaching them to maintain their health and providing them with resources they need to learn more.
Wellness offerings and fitness initiatives: Each General Mills location encourages wellness by organizing initiatives, providing exercise facilities, and offering fitness classes to its employees. Different locations take different strategies to help ensure employees are protected from conditions common to the population in their location.
Programs Employees Appreciate
Each General Mills location offers a plethora of programs and employees are encouraged to participate in whichever programs are best suited for their needs. The most popular wellness initiatives include:
Health Number: The Health Number program assesses employee health and provides employees with a score. After going over these numbers with a physician, employees pick one aspect of their health to improve in the coming year.
Healthy Blood Pressure Initiative: This program encourages employees to achieve a healthy blood pressure and BMI. Each General Mills plant is fitted with a machine that records information like weight, height, blood pressure, and heart rate, etc. This information is tracked and can be monitored by the employee, who can use this information to achieve health goals.
Smart for Business
General Mills executives have followed studies that show a 3:1 return on investment from successful employee wellness programs. Indeed, research shows that employees who participate in wellness programs have greater company loyalty and save companies money by experiencing fewer health problems. This can lead to lower company turnover rate, reduced insurance costs, and less use of paid sick leave.
Wellness programs are good for company reputations within their communities and make companies more competitive in employee recruitment. In short, a successful wellness program can help determine the success of a company.
General Mills provides top-down support for its wellness program and over the years, this support has paid off in a number of ways. For more information about the General Mills case, these resources are available online:
- Interview with Dr. Julia Halberg, Director of Global Health, General Mills
- Building a Culture of Wellness
With careful planning and smart leadership, your company can have the same success with its wellness program. To find out more about how you can build your company’s wellness program, contact Healthy Works today.