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December 20, 2011

University named leader in promoting a healthy workplace

The American Heart Association has honored the University as a Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company for its successful efforts to create a culture of corporate wellness. The University also has been chosen among a select group of companies as the heart association’s 2011 Worksite Innovation Award winner, a tribute reserved for organizations that lead in the development and implementation of innovative and effective programs to motivate employees toward a healthier lifestyle.

The association honors employers who go above and beyond to promote health among their employees, offering employees physical activity options; increasing healthy eating options; implementing at least nine criteria outlined by the association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, and culture; and demonstrating measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

“This recognition by the American Heart Association reflects our goal to make the University as healthy an environment as it can be,” says President Joel Seligman. “It is truly in line with our motto—Ever Better—and we are proud to do whatever we can to give our employees the tools that make healthy living attainable.”

Charles Murphy, associate vice president for human resources, adds, “We are pleased so many of our employees are taking advantage of the UR’s health and wellness services—some of which have been in place for years and others that have been added recently to promote the health of our workforce. Our goal is to help people get active, eat better, and ultimately feel as good as they can, all in an effort to improve the quality of their lives.”

Although the University celebrates the recognition and its recent progress, Murphy says, new programs and offerings for staff are being developed to promote good health.
The University continued this year to further improve upon its wellness offerings, prompting a rise in the number of employees who are taking advantage of programs and services and taking action to become healthier. Some examples:

  • The University increased financial incentives available to employees and their spouses for completion of a biometric screening and health risk assessment. New programs were introduced to promote active transportation (the use of walking/bicycling as a main form of transportation) among employees. More bike racks have been added throughout the campus. A weather-protected bike cage was installed in the Medical Center so that employees who cycle to work have a safe place to store their bicycles. In addition, the onsite fitness and wellness center now offers bicyclists the ability to purchase locker access and shower use for a small monthly fee.
  • The employee wellness program, in collaboration with other departments, began offering an active transportation education series, which includes lectures on topics such as how to travel safely during the winter, incentives available to employees who commute, and how to tune bicycles for the spring and summer months. During National Bike to Work Week, the University held an event that was well attended. The University is working closely with community partners to help move forward the City of Rochester’s plan to make Rochester a more cycle-friendly city.
  • The national “Walk with a Doc” program was recently launched for employees and their spouses to encourage physical activity. Physicians, specialists, and other health care professionals from the University community take turns walking with employees for 30 minutes on Saturday mornings, providing health education and answering questions.

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