Ever been thirsty enough to drink a swimming pool?
Employees at Carlisle’s CampusDoor were that thirsty — collectively and metaphorically speaking.
Workers at the financial services company recently logged their daily water consumption with the goal of filling a virtual swimming pool, part of CampusDoor’s participation in the Partnership for Better Health’s Wellness@Work program.
As in many modern offices, work at CampusDoor tends to be stationary, and most of the company’s 120 employees spend their days in front of computers and on the phone.
The average office worker sits for about 10 hours a day, Partnership for Better Health officials point out, and that puts them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression and other conditions.
CampusDoor Chief Administrative Officer Sondra Wolfe Elias recognizes the challenges that inactivity can present to employee health and morale.
“I’ve made a personal commitment to health, and I wanted the best for our staff, too,” Wolfe Elias said.
That led to the company’s participation in the Wellness@Work program, which introduces employers to free and low-cost strategies to promote nutrition, physical activity and tobacco cessation.
The partnership provides employers with health tips and resources throughout the year, as well as matching funding of $500 to $1,000 to assist with employee health programs and related improvements.
Applications are typically due in mid- to late summer.
The partnership is a foundation that has its roots in the former Carlisle Hospital, whose service area it covers: central and western Cumberland and Perry counties as well as part of Adams County. It was known as the Carlisle Area Health and Wellness Foundation until 2013.
Gail Witwer, the partnership’s director of health promotion, said the agency works with up to 20 employers each year, including a mix of nonprofit and for-profit organizations, to launch simple activities designed to help employees be more productive and live longer.
“As I’m talking with you, I’m standing,” Witwer said during a telephone interview on Tuesday morning.
“If people have a sedentary job, find opportunities for them to move,” she added.
That is one of the many things done by CampusDoor, which provides lenders with software to process student loans.
The company began with simple steps, such as encouraging employees to use their break time to access Valley Meadows, a 21-acre nature preserve and walking trail network next to the company’s property.
Next, the company launched a “Walk Around the World” health challenge, in which teams of employees competed to log nearly 25,000 miles, virtually walking around the world.
Each employee also was offered the opportunity to purchase a wristband activity tracker through an employer-subsidized program, in order to keep track of their calorie-burning progress each day.
New wellness center
But CampusDoor didn’t stop there.
This year, the company used part of its matching funds from the partnership to add a new employee wellness center, featuring two treadmills, Pilates balls, exercise mats and light weights.
An outdoor basketball court and indoor shower round out recent additions.
“It’s been really well received, especially the Wellness Center,” said Cindy Zandvoort, an analyst at CampusDoor and part of the company’s activity team.
“We’re always trying to think of new things we can do,” Zandvoort added.
In addition to the pool-filling, walking and wellness center, CampusDoor successfully piloted a healthy snack machine, and is looking to replace its soda machine with healthier beverages.
“In the 10 years that we’ve supported workplace wellness programs, CampusDoor has emerged as a leader in a national trend,” partnership Executive Director Becca Raley said.
“With more and more adults spending long hours in jobs that lack natural mobility, integrating health strategies directly into the work environment has become essential to employee health, morale and productivity,” Raley added.
Witwer stressed that the road to wellness really can begin with some very simple steps.
In addition to standing up and stretching during phone calls, Witwer said companies can consider “walking and talking” meetings, in which conferences are held outside — though indoor walks might be more suitable on days as cold as Tuesday, she laughed.
To that end, some companies have marked out indoor walking lanes for employees to use on their breaks, Witwer added.
But even posting motivational reminders, or information about healthy activities in the community, such as 5K runs, can go a long way, she added.
“Just make wellness a part of the conversation,” Witwer said.
Information about participating in the program is available online, or by contacting Witwer at 717-960-9009, ext. 8.