Walking (and Breathing, Eating, and Living) the Talk

12.01.2011
HR & Safety

Employee wellness program making a difference for Cheshire firm

By Ira Morrison

Joanne Couceiro of Hobson Associates was appointed the firm’s wellness champion in 2010 to help manage employee involvement in the CBIA Healthy Connections program.

When Joanne Couceiro heard that her company: Hobson Associates, a national executive recruitment firm based in Cheshire: planned to participate in the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program, she was happy. When she heard that her employer would appoint a wellness champion to help manage wellness efforts and employee involvement, she was thrilled.

A Perfect Fit

Couceiro, who does marketing and sales support, was already on the fitness bandwagon. She had a personal trainer and was working to become a Certified Group Fitness Instructor. Hobson’s president, Danny Cahill, also is deeply committed to fitness and wellness and wanted his staff to have every opportunity to pursue healthy lifestyles.

“We’re doers,” Couceiro explains, “working in a fast-paced, high-energy culture, constantly going, with little downtime. Danny is a health buff and advocate and wanted his team to learn more about exercise, diet, and overall wellness. This was a perfect fit for us.”

Cahill approached Couceiro last fall about accepting the wellness champion assignment, and she jumped at the chance. “It was perfect timing,” she recalls. “I had completed my certification, and Danny asked me if I’d be willing to offer voluntary classes to our staff. The response was very positive. I created an alternating high- and low-impact aerobics step and weight-lifting class that meets twice a week and then added a fitness boot camp. We meet after work in our large training and conference room, averaging eight employees in each class.”

A broad cross-section of Hobson’s staff, which ranges in age from 20 to 60, joined the classes. Couceiro encouraged the entire team to complete their online health assessments and become better engaged in a comprehensive wellness mentality. Their boss, she stresses, was right there beside them, cheering on his staff.

“We’re a family here,” says Cahill, who has written an award-winning book on career development called Harper’s Rules. “You can’t force people to focus on their health, but you can be encouraging and offer them opportunities. Joanne is good-natured, enthusiastic, and full of positive energy. These classes help with team building, boost morale, and ultimately increase productivity. We’re changing attitudes, and the spillover effect has been terrific; it’s making a difference.”

Beyond the Burn

In addition to exercise classes, Couceiro shares articles on health and wellness. Additionally, Hobson conducted a seminar on nutrition and healthy eating, run by Cahill. The company also sponsored an on-site wellness clinic to test blood pressure, cholesterol, and to establish baseline measurements for body fat. They discussed the risks associated with sugar, salt, tobacco, and alcohol use. Those who were interested established personal goals: whether weight loss, smoking cessation, or a commitment to regular exercise: with support and encouragement from their fellow staff members.

In a recent CBIA raffle open to all wellness champions, Couceiro received a $500 gift certificate. She promptly invested the money in workout equipment for Hobson Associates, including weights, exercise balls, and personal step trainers. Visitors to their recruiter training facility see the equipment piled up against one wall, and she is proud to explain why it’s there.

“Danny lets us tear down the large training room every week for our exercise classes. People are amazed; they thank me, and I say, ‘Don’t thank me; thank Danny.’ It doesn’t work without support from the top. We have fun, and it’s changed our team in many positive ways. Wellness at Hobson is an extension of who we are.”

Ira Morrison is a freelance writer in Bristol specializing in healthcare issues.

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