Published March 21, 2000
Volume 8, Number 3

Hacienda Companies Find Healthy Employees Make for a Healthy Business

By Denise Howe
Special to Network

Alive and flourishing in Hacienda is each company's desire to encourage a good balance between work and family for their employees. Businesses of many sizes are devoting time, staff, space and dollars--in large numbers--to the many fine health and wellness programs employees embrace with enthusiasm and gratitude. 

"Companies are catering to people who are getting big salaries but who are also very interested in quality-of-life issues," said Virginia Powers, former president of the Tri-Valley Human Resources Association. She should know. The association is an education forum and resource tool for more than 500 Bay Area HR professionals who are plugged into a vast array of corporate recruitment and retention programs. 

Jan Linver, employee relations manager of Roche Molecular Systems, echoes Powers. "Our main priority is focusing on balancing work and family. This is very important to the company and employees."

To help employees achieve this, wellness and health programs abound in the park. Companies are providing everything from sports club memberships, yoga and massage to free dinners, brown bag wellness seminars, and child care subsidies. 

As Jeanette Cole of PeopleSoft community relations says, "the programs not only relieve stress but increase productivity, so that people relax and focus better on what they are doing." And a relaxed, happy employee is a much more content person away from the job, too. 

Let's take a look at wellness programs here in the park.

Sports Club Membership
Sports club membership is at the top of the list of what's being offered, both on-site and off. The on-site facilities at PeopleSoft offer convenience because they're "right at the workplace," says Cole. Many Hacienda businesses also contract with facilities like 24 Hour Fitness, giving an employee the flexibility of using a facility at work or near their home. 
Workout Facility
PeopleSoft employees enjoy the workout facilities at Club One, their on-site health club.

Cheri Calcagno is the program manager for Club One, PeopleSoft's club in their Hacienda headquarters. It offers wellness, health and fitness programs for employees who pay a monthly membership fee. The variety is terrific with exercise machines, strength training programs, group exercises, yoga, and even kick boxing. Calcagno also sets up people in training programs who want to run or walk in the many 5K and 10K events in the area. Almost completed and eagerly awaited by employees are the sports courts and a sand volleyball court. She said that the response to Club One's programs has been very enthusiastic, and, indeed, employees are "great at giving suggestions on new programs and plans, things they would like to see and ways to tailor existing programs." 

Hacienda's ProBusiness contracts with ClubSport. The company funds most of the initial membership fee and employees pick up the monthly fee, according to Pat Kosharek, benefits analyst. The program is proving popular as nearly 150 people have signed up. The company has added a variety of other wellness benefits to help keep everyone relaxed and feeling good between Thanksgiving and the end of February, when employees work with payroll and taxes for clients. 

There's a basketball court at Shaklee, and the company plans to have a full fitness center similar to the one in the San Francisco offices they vacated to move to Pleasanton, according to Karen Topping, community relations. The company also plans a cafeteria. Until the new facilities are constructed, all employees now have fully-paid memberships to the 24 Hour Fitness location of their choice. "They like having the option of going to one near where they live, or on weekends", Topping said. "We try to make it as convenient as possible." 

Paula Londow, benefits coordinator in the Walnut Creek offices of Commerce One, said that there are many wellness and health benefits on the horizon when the company completes its relocation to Hacienda in mid-April. Kriss Elizalde, senior benefits manager, is working on developing a comprehensive program. Right now, Commerce One offers discounted memberships at 24 Hour Fitness to its Pleasanton employees. 

Employees at Roche Molecular Systems have their choice of attending two Pleasanton health clubs with company-subsidized rates, and subsidized ClubSport membership is also one of the perks at Robert Half International, Inc., according to Mark Wagoner, the benefits planning manager. 

Yoga and Massage
Yoga is a very popular program at Shaklee and ProBusiness. This centuries-old regimen of mind, body and spirit fits in well at Shaklee, said Karen Topping. 

Twice-weekly yoga classes are offered onsite at ProBusiness. The workshops began as
a special amenity at year end but proved so popular that they've been continued.

"The foundation of our business is living in harmony with nature. Good health and wellness go along with our product line."

On-site yoga classes also have been very well-received at Roche, according to Jan Linver. Employees especially like them because they are given on the premises. Twice-weekly yoga classes soothe employees at ProBusiness, where the instructor gives each participant some individualized help with their program. 

Sign-ups for the chair massage are many as employees enjoy time in a quiet room with soft music in the background, while their head, neck and arms are slowly massaged. "For people at keyboards during the day, this is heaven," said Pat Kosharek. A complete body massage is also available at PeopleSoft just for signing up.

At PeopleSoft, "shower memberships" are available for people who bike or run to work, while Shaklee offers showers and changing rooms in the buildings. 

Food and Water
Workers need fuel, and good, healthy food is the popular answer. At the ProBusiness cafeteria, the menu includes heart-healthy fare, along with vegetarian and special dishes for weight-loss programs. A Weight Watchers groups also meets on site. For people who work past 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday during this corporate year-end period, the cafeteria at ProBusiness provides free dinners, and, on Saturday, box lunches for people working on the weekend. 

If food is the fuel, then water is the cleanser and Robert Half International has installed a complete water processing system that delivers purified hot and cold water to the water stations throughout the buildings. It's said to be great for coffee. 

Child Care
One of the more popular contributions a company can make to an employee's well being is child care. "We have had overwhelming acceptance of this program, and employees have been very grateful for it," says Roche's Jan Linver. Roche provides a 30 percent monthly subsidy for the total cost, and employees can choose between two local child care facilities. "Because we subsidize costs, our children go to the top of the list for admittance. In turn the child care centers are thrilled to have us there." They hope that this employer/child care center relationship will become a model for other companies. 

At Robert Half International, Mark Wagoner says that the company continually takes a look at programs that have health impacts and last year rolled out a dependent-care reimbursement account for child care. "It has been very successful with lots of positive impact."
Shaklee Basketball
Shaklee employees Dean Nakama (left) and
Mark Ramirez shoot some hoops on the company's
full-size basketball court. 

Time Off With Pay
The mental aspect of wellness is emphasized by companies as well. Employees at ProBusiness like the six-week paid sabbatical each employee is entitled to receive after four years of continuous service. It's time to do whatever they want and it's for everyone, including part-time people. It contributes to employee satisfaction by allowing each person to rediscover their own reasons for pursuing their career at the company, which helps relieve stress and tension. 

Health Education
Health education and assistance programs are offered by a number of Hacienda businesses. At PeopleSoft, monthly programs include seminars about timely health issues such heart disease, nutrition and diabetes. Gardening and golf clinics add to the interesting mix. 

A program at Roche called Choosing Health offers six or more brown-bag lunches annually with topics focusing on wellness including stress reduction, and priority management. Employees there also have a direct link with the Mayo clinic website, and by putting in a password can retrieve information on specific health issues or obtain healthy recipes.

The Hacienda Chiropractic Office of Dr. Marsha Ho offers a variety of programs to companies related to wellness. She created the Corporate Wellness Foundation in June 1996 with a team of dentists, internists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, massage therapists and chiropractors. The team goes on-site at local business health fairs and gives lunchtime seminars to provide information and education along with body fat analysis, posture analysis, and nutritional guidance. The foundation can put together a program to meet a company's needs. 

"When individual employees are healthy, the company is happy," said Ho. 

A number of companies also provide confidential employee assistance programs for both mental and physical health issues. ProBusiness provides workers with access to a toll-free number that's available 24 hours a day to receive up to five no-fee consultations for domestic, or work-related issues. At Roche, there is the Mayo Clinic Nurseline where an employee can call a toll-free number with specific health concerns. 

So, not only do Hacienda employees work in a premier setting at highly successful companies, their employers are watching out for the health and wellness of their workforce as well. Sounds like everyone wins.


Also in this issue ...