The changes to office space were paid for by Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield to support the Personnel Department's growing program.
"Our employee wellness program is fast becoming a core component of our culture here, and having a dedicated space to support this program is just another way to reinforce our commitment to our employees' health and well-being," Personnel Director Michael Taylor said.
The city had received $6,000 to create a dedicated space for demonstrations, workouts, and programs and on Tuesday celebrated the completion of that gym and center. The kick off event included healthy foods and the Pittsfield Nutrition Center, yoga demonstrations from instructor Katie Fortier, chair massages from New Life Chiropractic, and Jamie Robinson of Healthy Fitness.
The city has been building the employee wellness for more than a year and has continually added programs to support the staff members. The city has been working with its insurance companies to provide workshops, bring in dietitians, health fairs, and fitness programs through MIIA's Well Aware program.
On a monthly basis, the city has been holding workshops on such things as healthy cooking or yoga. The city also has online programs employees can follow on their own.
Now those activities, plus a gym space with treadmills city officials picked up for free or inexpensively, can all take place in one location. For the last few months, Taylor and other city hall members have been tracking down and getting equipment from placed throughout the county to stock the room. That includes getting weights from the former St. Joseph Central School, a free treadmill they saw advertises in Hinsdale and other equipment from Instant Replay.
City workers can use the equipment on lunches or after work.
The city repurposed the space, which has its own ventilation system and is somewhat separated from the rest of the basement offices, is now stocked with free weights, stationary bikes, treadmills, yoga mats, medicine balls, and resistance bands filling the space, allowing employees to get some exercise in after work or on lunch break.
It will also be the space to hold those workshops and bring in instructors. The city will be launching an eight-week "boot camp" in the coming months as well.
"I am thrilled to know that we can offer our employees a space right here in City Hall that will help to achieve their personal goals and enhance their quality of life," Mayor Linda Tyer said.
Wellness programs have been a growing trend in the human resources field. Estimates say for every dollar a company or institution spends on wellness programs, $3 is returned on the investment. That is seen through increased productivity and decreased absenteeism, staff turnover, and stress.
Additionally, insurance claims impact premiums, so a healthier workforce could lead to lowering costs for both the city and the employees.
Taylor previously said the biggest aspect of such programs is showing the workers the city supports them.
"For me, the biggest piece of it is supportive engagement. It is a really important aspect for me to assure the employees that they are valued, know they are supported when they are here. I just think this is a great way to show that," Taylor said.
The workshops are all volunteer but are intended to be fun, create stronger bonds between employees, and supports the staff in ways beyond the typical work day.
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