wellbeing@work: Laura Zarro of Design Group

January 23, 2017
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

Seventy percent of companies with more than 50 employees have wellness programs. But a wellness program alone is not a prescription for success, as study after study shows. At Barry-Wehmiller, we’re intensely committed to creating a culture of wellbeing that inspires our team members to take critical actions to care for their health.

We believe inspiration is crucial in order to spur perspiration.

For us, this goes well beyond health care cost considerations, though savings should be a byproduct of successful wellbeing initiatives. It’s about ensuring we incorporate caring support with tools that do good inside the walls of our organization as well as help our team members live better outside of work. In other words, it’s about wanting our people to be well, so that they can lead full, happy lives and be there for the ones they love.

Through our robust wellbeing program, we educate and motivate our team members to become active stewards of their health. We vigorously promote regular doctor visits, age/gender-appropriate screenings, tobacco cessation, healthy eating, physical activity and more—all ways for our people and their families to embrace wellbeing so that they can be the best versions of themselves.

And, it’s working.

Even though recent studies have shown that fewer than 25 percent of people engage in workplace wellness programs, I’ve seen that when you show you care for the whole person, it matters. I’ve hosted listening sessions around the U.S., and I’ve been encouraged by what our team members have said about our wellbeing initiatives.

I’ve been told moving accounts about how people’s lives have been saved, thanks to early interventions and treatments. I’ve also heard impactful stories from team members about how they’ve been able to make incremental changes that will serve them well down the road.

“I had knowledge about healthy foods, but I still thought I could eat whatever I wanted and not exercise, like I could when I was younger,” said Laura Zarro, a Project Accountant for Barry-Wehmiller’s Design Group division in New York.

But, after she and her husband, Steve, had Zachary, now 27 months old, Laura noticed her body mass index started creeping up. When she learned about Barry-Wehmiller’s weight loss partner, Right Weigh, it was just the inspiration she needed to sign up for free one-on-one sessions with a personal registered dietitian.

“My Right Weigh dietitian was like a little lighthouse, offering me guidance,” said Laura. “I would check in with her at lunchtime and review my progress. She sent me a dietary plan with healthy snack ideas and substitutions. Talking with her made me accountable, but she also encouraged me to not beat myself up if I ate something off-plan.”

Officially, Laura’s 12-week Right Weigh session ended months ago, but she’s sticking with it on her own, and so far, she’s lost 30 pounds. While she’s happy she can fit into smaller clothes, the best part of the program has been the impact on her family.

“Because I’m planning our meals, we’re sitting down to eat together, which has been great,” said Laura. “Plus, my son is continually willing to try mushrooms, peppers and all kinds of other vegetables, and he won’t even touch cookies. For his birthday, I made a smash cake for him using apples, cinnamon and orange juice to sweeten it, rather than processed sugar. He loved it.”

As Truly Human Leaders, it is our responsibility not only to be stewards of the lives entrusted to us every day, but also to support each team member’s wellbeing and that of those they love.

“The organization cares enough for employees and our families to be sure we’re around for them,” said Laura. “I can keep up with Zachary at the mall, but, even better, I know I am going to be there for him in 10 years. I want to be a young mom at his graduation—not be there with a walker…. Even though I’m doing this for myself, my son will reap the benefits.”


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