A little friendly competition can sometimes go a long way towards a healthier lifestyle. During Baxter International Inc.'s recent annual BeWell@Baxter Global Exercise Challenge, 11,000 employees from Baxter's global locations vied with colleagues for a position as one of Baxter's "biggest movers"—and exercised more than 10 million minutes in the process.
Participation in the month-long challenge increased by 10% from 2012, and the number of minutes exercised increased by 28%. Around the world, employees were inspired to get moving and get healthy.
More than 85 employees from the Waluj, India, facility racked up over 300,000 exercise minutes from badminton, yoga classes, stretching exercises, and brisk walks to work from their bus stop. The facility offered a healthy heart training program with a cardiac surgeon, a seminar on healthy lifestyle and a health screening for all employees. Many participants entered their wellness numbers into Baxter's online wellness tool, and monitored their BMI and blood pressure for improvement.
"After taking the initial fitness test at the beginning of the exercise month, I was alarmed by my results," said Sushilkumar Vasant Patil, assistant manager, filling. "But when I started exercising in the gym and taking brisk walks in the evening, I was able to lose about 10 kg (approximately 20 pounds), and feel more confident." For Shridhar Brahmangaonkar, Baxter assistant manager, engineering, the Challenge impacted more than just himself. "I also involved my family for daily morning brisk walks at a jogging track near my house," he shared.
Following a fun kick-off event with a one-mile race and golf putting, more than 350 employees at Baxter's Thousand Oaks, Calif., facility got busy logging more than 430,000 minutes through jogging, running, walking, hiking, biking and aerobics. The location encouraged participants with its own challenges and incentives—those who beat the senior leadership's exercise minutes average were treated to dinner at a local restaurant.
"The facility really embraces this event every year," said Robin Alegria, RN, occupational health nurse at the facility. "Groups and departments challenge each other and encourage everyone to strive for excellence."
Some of Baxter's BioLife Plasma Services centers took participation to the highest level, including the Hayden, Idaho, location, which had 100% employee involvement this year.
Baxter occupational health nurse Shawna Bisson, RN, who helped facilitate the Challenge at BioLife centers, noted that reminders with exercise ideas helped employees to stay focused on their fitness goals that month. Kyle Nagel, master plasma center technician and Exercise Challenge committee lead at the center, added, "We all work hard at BioLife to produce products that help people enjoy life and health a little more. I think it would be a shame to take our own health for granted."
The high employee turnout throughout Baxter's facilities was helped in part by unique employee efforts that encouraged colleagues to continue moving throughout the month.
Melanie David, early talent management specialist, and Stephanie Carlson, senior HR analyst—twin sisters who work at Baxter's Deerfield headquarters—recorded an original song with LOA (Law of Attraction) band mates Chris Sakkos and Boysie Caison called "Move with the Baxter Beat." The song became a popular accompaniment to employee exercise efforts, including for Andreas Nigrin, Baxter supervisor, infrastructure services, from the Vienna, Austria, facility. Nigrin, a competition-level cheerleader specializing in partner stunts, performed with a friend to the tune in front of Vienna's historic Schoenbrunn Palace.
Encouraging wellness all year long
Baxter's Cali, Colombia, facility not only took part in the Exercise Challenge, but decided to extend the concept into a year-long initiative. Its "Redeem Your Exercise Minutes" program, open to all employees, tracks exercise minutes and offers prizes.
"We feel that this is an example of how sites can translate the Exercise Challenge into a yearly continuous experience," said Eduardo Buendia Pineda, MD, MgSO, Baxter physician occupational health specialist.
That kind of long-term impact on wellness is exactly what Baxter has in mind to support the health of its employees. "While the Exercise Challenge takes place during one month, our ultimate goal is for employees to develop healthy habits that will remain part of their lives every day," says Jeanne Mason, Baxter's corporate vice president of human resources. "Having a long-term perspective on health is a key part of our commitment to doing good by being well."
Baxter also provides employees with other opportunities to take charge of their health, including the company's Personal Wellness Profile Tool, an online health risk assessment that allows employees to personally and confidentially review their health status and identify areas for improvement. Baxter also offers seasonal flu vaccines, on-site health screenings, a quarterly health and wellness newsletter and celebrates November as Healthy Eating Month at the company.
As part of Baxter's overall commitment to the health and safety of its employees, one of the company's nine sustainability priorities is to "Promote a safe and healthy workplace." Baxter's progress toward this priority is available at http://sustainability.baxter.com/priorities-goals/index.html.