Meditation rooms, gyms, health incentives among wellness programs at Maryland firms

Meditation rooms, on-site gyms and incentivized programs to achieve health goals are among employee wellness initiatives implemented by four employers who made presentations at a June Healthiest Maryland workshop hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

A meditation room is available to employees at Baltimore-based Healthcare for the Homeless, said Mary Jean Herron, chief financial officer of the nonprofit that provides health-related services, education and advocacy to reduce homelessness.

The organization has also incorporated brighter-colored walls and yoga into its initiatives to help decrease employee stress levels.

“Health is not just physical; it is also mental,” Herron told more than 65 participants who attended the GBC’s June 1 workshop at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel to promote the state’s “Healthiest Maryland” initiative.

RCM&D created a contest to challenge employees to walk 5,000 steps a day in order to win a prize, said Robert T. Cawley, president of the Baltimore insurance services, risk management and employee benefits company.

Since the contest began, 88 percent of RCM&D employees have become involved. More than 70 percent have reached their goals. Even a small business can do this, said Cawley, “If you introduce a wellness program, you can expect to see a reduction in cost and an increase in productivity.”

Healthier food options in the cafeteria, an on-site gym, free annual flu vaccinations, and lunch-and-learn sessions are among an array of workplace health initiatives offered employees of the Chester River Hospital Center. The hospital’s more than six-year-old wellness program has generated significant positive effects on the health of employees, according to Paula Pouliot, hospital employee health and coordinator. “Little behavioral changes can lead to big achievements,” she said.

The hospital also offers reduced health insurance premiums to employees with satisfactory health test results, according to Pouliot.

Audacious Inquiry, a Catonsville-based healthcare information technology company, offers employees an opportunity to participate in a monthly wellness survey based on a Johns Hopkins wellness program. Participants who exercise regularly can earn points added to their company Health Savings Accounts. Employee wellness is among Audacious Inquiry’s six “core values,” said company president Christopher Brandt.

Wellness presentation by the Chester River Health System

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