Lots of companies talk about promoting health and wellness among their employees but the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region walks that mission seven days a week.

Perhaps more importantly, the nonprofit organization wants to help the entire region become more fit.

“It’s in our strategic plan that the YMCA will be the leader in sustainable and transformational health and well-being in our community,” said Boyd Williams, president and CEO of YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region. “That’s a pretty bold statement. Before we do it, we have to do it with ourselves. Everybody’s at different health levels, but we want people to get active.”

Williams said all eight YMCA branches in the area provide drug-free and smoke-free environments for the organization’s 1,380 employees. Those workers are encouraged to choose their favorite form of exercise and utilize YMCA facilities — even during work hours.

“We encourage our full-time staff to work out, and you’ll never be criticized if you’re working out in the middle of the day as long as you’re getting the work done,” Williams said. “I believe in trusting my staff, and I want to encourage a healthy lifestyle for them and their families. It starts with culture, and it starts at the top with myself. I reinforce it as often as I can with the staff that they need to take care of themselves before they can go out and take care of others.”

In the last year, Williams said he added Chief Medical Officer Gloria Winters to the staff, along with Chief Health Care Strategist Charlotte Waters.

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“We’re the only YMCA in the country that has a chief health care strategist and a chief medical officer,” Williams said. “We try to use our chief medical officer, Gloria, in leading the way for our employees to prevent sickness and lead a healthier lifestyle.”

Apparently it’s working.

“We have a pretty healthy workforce,” Williams said. “Our worker’s [compensation]insurance — which is part of wellness — had a mod factor of 1.66 about 10 years ago. The average in our industry is 1. We were 66 percent over, so those are dollars. We’re at .56 right now, so we’re 44 percent under the average and that’s over $100,000 in savings a year that can go right back into our mission work. And we expect to be about .42 this year, which is off the charts. That’s especially satisfying since six years ago we had 650 staff; this year we’re 1,380 staff, so our exposure has increased, but our wellness has improved.”

Williams, who oversees a $30 million budget (nearly double the $16 million from six years ago) said the wellness program is here to stay.

“We’ll cut other things, but two things I feel very strongly about as the leader of this organization and feel we’ll never cut are staff development and training, and wellness,” he said. “We have a wellness program where they’re incentivized and can get points or dollars to use for fitness-related gear or it goes into their checking accounts.

“The program challenges you with other team members across the association if you’re synched up on the app. We’ve seen progress. The branch executives encourage it and reinforce it with all of their employees.”

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