The second annual Healthy Workplaces Extra Mile Awards, hosted March 20th 2017, created a community of knowledge around workplace health and wellness. We spoke to Coast Hotels, the winner of the Silver Extra Mile Award and the Health Innovation Award, to gain insight into workplace wellness. Coast Hotels is recognized for implementing unique wellness activities and fostering an environment that promotes healthy living. We recently sat down with Sandra Stewart, People and Culture Advisor at Coast Hotels. She described the transformative effect of workplace wellness, saying that it helps employees approach their work with greater enthusiasm and enjoyment, a welcome outcome in any business. Read our interview with Sandra to hear Coast Hotels’ captivating wellness story and discover their innovative initiatives!

What advice would you give to businesses around workplace health and wellness?

Sandra: Start with a survey to understand what people think about workplace wellness and find out if people are interested in forming a wellness committee. Wellness committee members could be employees looking to join a fun workplace initiative or those who maintain individual health and want to focus on helping others.

Also, recognize the talent within your workplace. If you tap into the skills of different individuals and departments your workplace wellness initiatives become stronger. For example, we had our marketing team conjure up a wellness mascot, Agent Coast, and we created a walking challenge where employee steps powered Agent Coast’s journey between our hotels all the way from Yellowknife to Whitehorse! We recorded the daily kilometers employees ran or walked using an online survey, added up the collective distance, and emailed updates on Agent Coast’s progress. In three weeks Agent Coast arrived at his destination in Whitehorse, travelling 1,880 kilometers! The Agent Coast walking challenge was a huge success and we plan to bring it back every quarter, sending Agent Coast on journeys around Coast Hotel locations.

How has your organization’s outlook on workplace health and wellness evolved?

Sandra: Our employees have become more conscious about physical activity and healthy eating. They think carefully before making decisions about whether to walk to work or eat a particular food. Before we adopted a focus on workplace wellness our social committee would provide pizza and cupcakes at workplace gatherings. In embracing workplace wellness we’ve now opted for salad and sandwich bars instead. Integrating wellness into a social context helps people rally around it and support one another while making an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice!

What communication strategies have you used to promote wellness initiatives?

Sandra: We send emails to all our employees, using catchy titles to capture attention and introduce subjects like shopping for healthy groceries. To take a fun break from work and allow employees to engage with wellness messages we create our own videos around health topics like sun safety awareness. We also create PowerPoint presentations showcasing health and wellness messages that we can display on our internal office televisions so staff that don’t have access to computers can see the information Some of our past PowerPoint presentations have explained the nutritious benefits of eating any of the food items that are part of our salad or sandwich bars, such as kale, cilantro, chickpeas and avocado.

How do your organizational values support workplace health and wellness?

Sandra: The five core values that we promote at Coast Hotels- expect commitment, act with fairness, live with honour, challenge the limits, and win together- coincide with our dedication to workplace wellness. We work towards creating a healthier work environment every day. When we promote new workplace wellness initiatives our ambassadors embrace the opportunity to challenge the limits and win together.

Coast Hotels cares for the hospitality of guests and the health of employees. They cultivate a culture of workplace wellness through fun initiatives and innovative educational strategies that inform and inspire staff. They integrate healthy living into communications and social gatherings, while also encouraging employees to dream of exciting new developments for workplace wellness initiatives. We’d like to thank Coast Hotels for sharing their valuable insights into workplace health and wellness!