Walking the Talk
Atlas associates and Jack Griffin step up for the American Heart Association
The statistics on heart health in the U.S. are scary. Every 34 seconds a heart attack. Every 40 seconds a stroke. Cardiovascular disease annually costs our country an estimated $298 billion.
But Atlas is not sitting idly by. Led by President & COO Jack Griffin, a corporate wellness effort is bringing better health to Atlas employees, pushing down costs for insurance, and raising awareness and support for the American Heart Association.
“A couple of Christmases ago, my daughter gave everyone in our family a special gift,” says Jack. “Tickets to run in the Chicago half-marathon. At the time, my son joked it was the worst gift ever.”
Just a month later, the stars aligned. Jack was asked to participate on the Executive Committee of the American Heart Association’s 5K Heart Walk in Evansville. Jack was already looking ahead to the Chicago half-marathon, knowing he had to get prepared.
As a corporate participant in the Evansville Heart Walk,® he thought that he might be able to convince many of the 400 Atlas associates in Evansville to also get prepared and healthy at the same time. The “Walk With Jack” concept was developed. Atlas asked all associates to shoot for a goal of 100 miles walked between February and May, leading up to Evansville’s first Heart Walk in years.
More than 100 Atlas associates joined Jack in the first year of Walk with Jack, also attending the 5K Heart Walk in May. The event raised more than $57,000 for the American Heart Association. The Griffin family also completed the 13.1 miles in Chicago.
This year, the American Heart Association tapped Jack to serve the entire community as Chairman of the Evansville Tri-State Heart Association. He’s using the high-profile post to bring attention to the importance of exercise, starting again with a challenge for Atlas employees.
“Anyone at Atlas can get an extra day of paid vacation,” says Jack. “All they have to do is walk 150 miles between February 3 and May 18, then participate in the Heart Association’s 5K Heart Walk on May 30. That event is the association’s primary fundraiser, and it creates important public awareness about everyone’s role in preventing heart disease.” To date, 162 Atlas associates have signed up for the 2015 Heart Walk as part of the Walk with Jack.
Twice a week, employees Walk with Jack over lunch as they log a couple of miles around the Atlas campus. They also earn mileage equivalents with a variety of other activities—Nerf® volleyball and dodge ball, cabbage ball, even stationary exercises they perform at their desks. Personal trainers are on site at select times during the week to help employees with aerobic and strength training.
There’s more than exercise in the company’s emphasis on health. Fresh, healthy choices have been introduced in the lunchroom. An on-site wellness clinic operates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, staffed by a physician and medical assistant. Employees and their dependents can receive wellness checkups, prescription refills, acute care for illness, and more. It’s all working together to make a difference for Atlas employees.
“I was on the verge of having to take medicine again,” says Laura Connelly, Customer Service Coordinator. “My doctor said I could stay off it since I was walking, riding my bike, and making diet changes. I think it is so important to get up and move during the day. Walking is a stress reliever, it loosens me up and refreshes me for my work day. I think everyone should get up from their desk each day to walk.”
It’s also making a difference for Atlas.
“We made the decision at Atlas last year to self-insure our employees,” says Jack. “We want to support them with a culture that reinforces and rewards healthy choices. It’s good business, yes. But more important, it’s good for our people and their families. It enhances personal fulfillment and quality of life.”