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KUTV: a strong believer in employee wellness.

KUTV A Strong Believer in Employee Wellness

Surveys and interviews on the development and use of workplace wellness programs find one recurring theme: most businesses create health-related activities to increase job productivity and motivation. Some of the most common wellness programs are smoking control, health-risk assessment, back care, stress management, exercise/fitness, and on-the-job accident prevention. Survey results prove that job satisfaction correlates with attitudes toward career, physical health, and longevity. Companies cite issues such as employee morale, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced disciplinary problems, and lower turnover as reasons for the adoption of wellness programs.

KUTV is another Utah company leading the way in employee health and fitness and in discovering that the benefits far outweigh the costs. The management at KUTV reviewed all the reports and conducted independent interviews with companies that had on-site wellness programs. They concluded in the late 1980s that by enhancing the "total person" through an employee wellness program, they would lift the quality of life of their employees and improve the quality of work each employee produced. They accepted the industry data and developed their own wellness program.

Barry Nash, vice president of marketing, oversees the wellness programs at KUTV. KUTV employs more than 200 people and currently has 50 employees who belong to the on-site exercise facility. That is a 25 percent participation rate, which exceeds industry standards. KUTV underwrites the major cost of the wellness programs. Fitness center members pay a nominal amount for the use of the facility.

The Program

KUTV's on-site fitness center is beautiful, spacious, and well-equipped. KUTV contracts with the YMCA to provide the on-site programs. The program coordinator from the YMCA is Paul Runge. He conducts several aerobics classes each week as well as personal classes are not the usual aerobics dance classes, but include a variety of programs such as circuit weight-training, ski conditioning, 5k and 10k running classes, and golf preparation classes. Through YMCA-certified programs, Runge also conducts fitness evaluations, nutrition seminars, weight-loss and stress-management programs, cholesterol screenings, and other curriculums.

Nash believes that the KUTV relationship with the YMCA benefits both parties. When KUTV first established its wellness program, it contracted with individuals to provide services. He found that this limited the program, because the contract employee was not always available. With the YMCA as the contractor, the large staff at the "Y" can provide a large variety of programs and support. It has been well-established in corporate wellness that a one-on-one relationship is important between the employee and the fitness director in order to meet the needs of any organization, and especially to change human behavior.

As an added bonus, KUTV employees and their families can use the YMCA facilities for one dollar per visit.

Addressing Diverse Interests

Nearly 400,000 deaths each year are related to smoking. Direct health-care costs for smoking-related illness in 1989 were $23 billion, plus an additional $52 billion in associated costs. With those staggering national statistics, KUTV is another Utah company that has chosen to become a smoke-free worksite. When the corporation decided to go smoke free, they opted to do it in stages. In the first few months, the company designated two or three rooms for smokers. KUTV then restricted smoking to one room for a few months before finally closing the building to all smoking. Smoking cessation programs are available for employees to participate in.

An in-house cafeteria is available to KUTV employees, and it has undergone some healthy changes over the past few years. A salad bar was added to the menu, and high-fat items were reduced or eliminated. The company has replaced some soda-pop machines with juice machines and some of the junk food with fresh fruit or other healthy selections.

As evaluations have been made, management found that different activities attract different groups of people. KUTV's work force is very diverse in its interests and needs. For those employees interested in competition, KUTV offers them the change to display their physical prowess in the Salt Lake City Corporate Games held each winter and summer. For employees who enjoy exercise and the beauty of the outdoors, the company sponsors mountain bike trips. For those interested in community service, KUTV encourages them to participate in the United Way HealthFair. KUTV has a program planned or in progress to meet most health and fitness needs of each of its employees.

Of the 10 leading causes of death in America, half are related to improper diet and lack of exercise, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer, and arteriosclerosis. With the help of the YMCA, KUTV has developed a diverse program that was recognized by the Governor's Council on Health and Fitness with the Worksite Wellness Award in 1990. Their program can increase the span of a healthy life by preventing premature death, disability, and disease, and it can enhance the quality of life of every KUTV employee.

Raylene Thueson is the Utah chairperson for the Association for Fitness in Business and the health and fitness coordinator for UTA.

PHOTO : One-fourth of KUTV's employees participate in classes and activities in the on-site exercise facility.
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Title Annotation:Salt Lake City, Utah TV station
Author:Thueson, Raylene
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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