Today’s News & Observer features a front page story on RDU’s wellness program. While the article points out that the Airport Authority undertook the program to help slow rising healthcare costs, my favorite part of the article is the focus on the people.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am the chair of the Airport Authority’s employee wellness committee, so my co-workers’ health and well-being are important to me. This aside, the success of RDU’s wellness program can be found in the individual stories of employees who have reached their weight loss goals, lowered their cholesterol, quit smoking and ran their first race. Thanks to the wellness program, these stories have become part of the daily conversation at RDU.
I was on the advisory committee for the wellness program when it was launched five years ago. The question the committee asked itself: Would employees embrace the program and recognize the benefits it would bring to them personally? Hesitantly, we said yes. The answer from our employees, however, was a resounding YES that far exceeded our expectations.
Today, health and wellness are part of RDU’s fabric. Each month, our employee blog, From the Flight Deck, features stories from employees about where they are on their journey to better health. In these blogs, you will also find an honest discussion of the challenges faced along the way. The response from co-workers has been amazing. They have jumped in with words of encouragement and ideas for overcoming obstacles.
Beyond the blog, one co-worker has become RDU’s unofficial running coach, offering advice and encouragement to employees who have taken up running as their sport of choice. Each day of the week, employees can be found either walking with co-workers in the terminal or walking in the parking lot to make sure they are getting their exercise in. Several employees are in the process of organizing a 160-mile bike ride that will begin at RDU and end at Wrightsville Beach.
I also can’t forget to mention the change in our organization’s eating habits. From our maintenance department lunches, which now feature foods from co-workers’ gardens, to the menu at employee events, healthy choices are more available than ever before.
There is no doubt that the program is helping RDU slow the increase in healthcare costs, a challenge that all organizations are facing, but just as important is the impact it is having on our employees’ overall health. As it is often said, healthy employees ensure a healthy organization.