Being overweight never kept Unum’s Misael Dominguez from doing things he loved – whether it was playing sports or hiking like a true Chattanoogan. It was just more difficult; that was his norm.
Until one day when his coworkers issued a simple challenge: walk during lunch. Before he knew it, a couple thousand extra steps a day resulted in 20 pounds shed and a confident commitment to change his life.
“I’d always been ‘the big guy’ and that was okay,” he said, “but the results I experienced just from making small adjustments sparked hope inside me. My eyes were opened to new possibilities and for the first time I thought, ‘I can do this!’” He’s lost 75 pounds since, with a goal to lose 100 overall by his birthday in May. His family promised an “Extreme Weight Loss” style makeover once he reaches his target.
“It’s been helpful to work for a company where health is a priority,” he said. “Having access to walking tracks on campus, water machines to fill up my water bottle and fun programs has really helped.”
Stories like Misael’s highlight the increasing value of wellness at the workplace. Reports show programs are a growing expectation, with the majority of employers offering or hoping to offer them in 2016. On top of the added incentive for employees, companies paying attention know there are obvious benefits for business, too.
“Statistically, healthy people are happy people, which can mean higher retention and productivity and lower healthcare costs for the employee and the employer,” Laurie Mitchell, assistant vice president of Global Wellness & Health, said.
As a member of the team focused on well-being at Unum, Laurie is passionate about helping employees. That’s why along with supporting an ongoing variety of programs at the company, she recently helped launch a campaign called “To the Moon.” The program challenges serve as a pilot to test if employees like to engage with new web-based program options. Over the 12-week campaign, employees log their physical activities – from walking to snowshoeing (yes, snowshoeing) – on a site that converts them to miles so they can together log 238,000 miles, the distance from Earth to the moon. “People are realizing more and more that compartmentalizing their health into a few hours after work isn’t ideal,” she said. “Wellness programs vary depending on the company but for us, To the Moon has been a simple, fun way to engage employees as they work toward their goals.”
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Misael’s a fan of the project, and between his participation and the encouragement of his colleagues, I think the Dominguez family can go ahead and plan to roll out the red carpet for that makeover they promised.
“This program started at just the right time; it’s going to help me push through to meet my goal and it’s been really fun,” he said.
Whether you work at a company that’s keeping wellness top-of-mind or not, consider a few ways you can be a catalyst for your colleagues. Invite a friend to walk during lunch or maybe start a Weight Watchers challenge for your office. Be the friend who encourages someone else to hope, to see possibilities. It can make all the difference.