Success Story: A workplace transformed through wellness

How one company saw its team achieve better health in 12 weeks

The leadership team at the Toronto branch of Raymond James recognizes that strong employee health initiatives make smart business sense. That’s why they decided to take a deeper dive into their workplace wellness efforts this year with a team-based, clinically-supported program.

Taking cues from research that this type of approach is the most effective, the 2016 Life Well Lived program sought to incorporate a stronger sense of community with 36 participants over a 12-week period.

We know that individuals who take care of themselves through regular exercise, smart food choices and sound sleep are better positioned to cope with the daily challenges of life, and that includes managing portfolios during volatile market conditions,” said Jamie Coulter, CFA, MBA, Senior Vice President, Private Client Group. But transforming that knowledge into actionable measures had been an obstacle in the past.

Health and Wellness Goals:
In what he called a leap of faith, Coulter and his team partnered with Medcan to create an employee wellness program that incorporated group counselling and conversations led by Dr. David Macklin, Director of Weight Management at Medcan. The program also included customized medical and fitness testing and support with fitness trainers and a clinical team, as well as supported individual and group classes in the broader Toronto community.

Raymond James Group Flex Jan 29 2016_v2

 In February 2016, the rousing CFL legend Michael “Pinball” Clemens congratulated the participants for their courage to step up to the challenge, and launched the inaugural program.

Medcan Strategy: The program was structured in four ways.

Medical testing: A Medcan Nurse Practitioner ordered and reviewed specific medical tests at the start and the end of the 12 weeks. This ensured participant safety and monitored any medical changes that occurred as a result of behavioural changes during the challenge.

Fitness testing: Fitness Trainers at Medcan Fitness conducted two sets of assessments that reviewed the participants’ weight, mobility and strength: one at the start and a second at the end of the challenge. These assessments monitored specific changes, which gave participants’ insight into their muscle and joint fitness, as well as waist-to-hip ratio and percentage of body fat.

Group and individual training and support: Raymond James encouraged participants to take private and group fitness classes – such as personal training sessions, community yoga and other local classes –  as well as one-on-one nutritional counselling with a Medcan Registered Dietitian.

“Dr. Dave” seminar series: Dr. David Macklin, or “Dr. Dave” as he became known, led five educational sessions at the Raymond James Toronto office. Dr. Macklin has committed his career to the prevention and treatment of obesity, and in addition to his position at Medcan, he holds teaching and leadership positions at the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital.

Over 12 weeks, Dr. Macklin explained the tenets of behaviour change and its role in weight management. Other topics included alcohol moderation, steps to get to a best weight, understanding smoking and other addiction, the importance of good sleep habits and managing stress. Reading materials were circulated, with participants asked  to complete homework and discuss challenges and opportunities with their peers.

Coulter says the Dr. Macklin-led conversations that started in the boardroom continued into the workplace and at home.

“Colleagues told me that discussions with Dr. Dave made them think about the choices they make in their day to day, and inspired positive change,” said Coulter.

Outcomes: The Life Well Lived 2016 outcomes demonstrated that little changes can lead to big wins. 

  • 67% of participants started one or more new forms of exercise or physical activity during the program
  • 57% of participants lost weight
  • 35% of participants improved their function and movement screen assessment
  • An office running group was initiated after the program
  • A movement competition with the help of wearable technology was initiated after the program
  • “The group talks created a culture of accountability, which was helpful as I worked toward behaviour change.
  • “The seminars created an opportunity for positive change.”
  • “Our team is now more conscious about office meal choices: less pizza and more greens.”

Four employees were recognized for personal transformation ranging from weight change to blood pressure reduction. The peer-voted Life Well Lived Values Award recognized a participant whose positive attitude and commitment to the program inspired his colleagues.  His behaviour change included:

  • reduced sodium intake
  • increased water intake
  • reduced muffin and soda consumption
  • increased intake of low-sugar, plant-based meals at home and at work
  • target weight reached
  • more frequent bicycle commuting

 “It was a great partnership, with participants feeling like they were in it together,” said Coulter. “There is a lot of value in that. There’s growing interest and we are ready for the next chapter of this program.

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