The employer encourages employees to exercise and the people who would exercise anyway take up the challenge. Sound familiar? The Otto Brandt Group is now focussing on its less active employees and the results are already showing.
Otto Brandt, which sells leisure vehicles, offers a fascinating working environment for motor sports enthusiasts but the work itself is not very physically strenuous. This has encouraged the Group to think about how to keep their personnel in good shape.
“Recreation Thursday” has inspired employees to share their own sports with their colleagues, such as Nordic skating and pesäpallo, a Finnish version of baseball. The jogging club has encouraged people to get out for a morning run during working hours and special sports vouchers have made it possible to select from a variety of activities.
“We are trying to get our least active employees to exercise, those who haven’t been taking part in these activities,” says the company’s Financial and HR Manager, Paula Parviainen.
Company’s Biggest Loser
Last summer began Otto Brandt’s Biggest Loser competition, organised exclusively for the company’s overweight employees and those with plump waistlines.
“Regular lectures and weigh-ins will be organised for them until June this year and they can exchange tips and spur each other on in a shared Facebook group. The prizes are trips to Rome and Dubai,” says Parviainen.
Over the first six months, a twenty-odd person group has lost on average 4.5 kilograms per person, some even 20 kilograms.
The weight-loss programme also motivated many unfit people to take a fitness test at the company’s well-being at work event, which has usually been solely the focus of people who are already in shape.
“It was a good way of measuring their starting levels and discovering the safest ways to exercise,” says Parviainen.
The Otto Brandt Group also maintains the health of its employees through its own canteen in Tuupakka, Vantaa, where around one third of the company’s 180 employees work.
“We wish to offer a variety of healthy foods because the neighbourhood offers a lot of unhealthy temptations,” Parviainen says.
The Group has also begun co-operating more closely with the occupational health-care provider.
“We already had a low level of absences due to illness,” Parviainen points out.
In any case, according to her, the focus of occupational health care is being shifted more towards prevention rather than treatment of illnesses. Employees experience a lot of bumps and bruises in their adventurous hobbies.
“The results have already improved greatly through the co-operation,” Parviainen says.
A family spirit
Otto Brandt’s well-being at work plan seems fairly comprehensive but the investments do not stop there. The Group offers financial assistance in, for example, the treatment expenses for serious illnesses.
“This is what you would call a family company spirit. People are much more than just employees. It’s a whole other level of team spirit and caring than in a large faceless corporation. We want people to feel good and enjoy working here,” Parviainen sums up.
Text: Marianna Salin
Photos: Piia Arnould