At Renfro, Wellness Delivers – Goal is to Make Wellness a Key Part of Culture

At Renfro, Wellness Delivers – Goal is to Make Wellness a Key Part of Culture

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — For energy-boosting benefits and healthy-habit formation, employees at Renfro Corp. are turning to their Wellness Program.

This is one corporate Wellness Program that’s delivering results: employees are losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising routinely.

Examples abound. Tim Pickett, Vice President of Planning, took advantage of the WellnessProgram’s membership discount and joined a gym. So far, he’s lost 20 pounds, increased his stamina and recently participated in his first half-marathon.

Sharon Flippin, a software documentation specialist, lost 35 pounds by taking twice-daily walks on the company’s indoor track.

In a little over a year, a wellness mindset has taken shape among the workforce of Mount Airy, N.C. based Renfro. Renfro is a global leader in the sock industry and is well recognized for their design, manufacture, marketing, merchandising and selling of leg wear products in North America and internationally.

Said employee Flippin, “Renfro really gets the fact that a healthy employee is a better employee. Unlike other companies, Renfro doesn’t just say they care, but actually ‘walks the walk.’ ”

Carrie Darnell, Employee Relations Manager who leads wellness efforts, said, “The program’s aim is to promote awareness of healthier choices and give employees tools to accomplish wellness goals.”

Renfro’s role as a catalyst for wellness was envisioned by CEO Bud Kilby when he established the program in August 2010. An avid runner and fitness enthusiast for decades, Kilby is a strong proponent of a fit and healthy lifestyle.

“Being fit improves a person’s quality of living,” Kilby said. “It’s not about being competitive; it’s about ‘training for life’. “

Besides producing results, the Wellness Program is designed to spark a genuine interest in wellness. It’s about mind-body awareness and personal development, pacing and socialization.

Employees organize and coordinate community health fairs and screenings and hold contests for weight loss. They join volunteer wellness committees to steer the program, support each other in smoking cessation and chat about relevant topics in “Lunch and Learn” sessions. As an incentive, Renfro offers discounts on health-club memberships or exercise equipment; a Wellness Discount on medical insurance premiums, and more.

The program is available to all of the company’s employees at locations in North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina, as well in New York and Los Angeles.

Every Renfro facility has outdoor walking tracks and most are striving to implement indoor tracks. Each location also offers one or more, or all, of the following: Lunch & Learn educational meetings; annual health fairs; on-site flu shot clinics; one-to-one on-site employee nutritionist visits; on-site exercise room; Wellness insurance premium discount; Renfro Losing Together program; health-club member discounts; an on-site Wellness committee staffed with employee volunteers; and Blue Cross/Blue Shield Bluepoints incentive program.

Darnell said that almost 900 employees participate in the Wellness discount. To be eligible, employees must be non-tobacco users and maintain a Body Mass Index below 30 percent. Body Mass Index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

In all activities, employees are advised to pace themselves according to their schedules and needs, said Darnell.

“We don’t want to pressure people into participating but rather encourage their education and healthy lifestyles,” Darnell said.

The benefits of leading a healthy and fit life — increased brain function, less depression, fewer illnesses, longer life — have been well documented. There’s also a proven correlation between workers’ mind/body health and company productivity.

And, while corporate wellness programs may lead to better employee performance, they also reflect a genuine concern by the employer about their employees’ quality of life.That’s a strong statement about corporate responsibility.

“I want employees to be aware of how important it is, and that there’s a level of participation for everyone,” said CEO Kilby. “We want wellness to be a key part of our culture.”