'We build in social support; initiatives are built around teams, competitiveness and camaraderie.'
HEALTHY CONSUMERS: Hasbro employees, from left, Fran Wells, Amanda Deaner and Lauren Colbath, take advantage of the weekly farmers market at the company’s Pawtucket headquarters.
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
By Richard Asinof Contributing Writer
As a company devoted to play, Hasbro Inc. recognizes the importance of its brand, often doubling down on its well-known board games that are re-branded as movies, DVDs and electronic games. So it is not surprisingly that when Hasbro introduced its Healthy Steps walking routes as part of its wellness program last year, the paths were branded, both inside and outside, with Candyland markers along the way.
The company’s wellness program itself is branded “Imagine,” with a logo that connects the campaign in all collateral communications.
As Dolph Johnson, senior vice president of Hasbro global human resources explained, the wellness team at Hasbro looks upon employees as customers, as if they are selling a product to a consumer. “We want to know: What are the things that are most important to them? Every year, we continue to challenge ourselves with being innovative, responding to what’s important to the value proposition of our employees.”
Johnson describes the employee mix at Hasbro at its facilities in Rhode Island as “pretty eclectic” – from designers who are very casual to people who are very career-oriented; from long-time employees to relatively short-time employees.
“It’s important that we strike a balance for all these different constituents in our wellness program,” he said.
However, one common denominator is teamwork. “We build in social support; initiatives are built around teams, competitiveness and camaraderie.”
The company also builds upon its strong partnership with Hasbro Children’s Hospital, enabling it to have the ability to offer hospital tours and volunteer opportunities for employees, directly tying what Hasbro does as a business to how it models responsibility in the community.
In 2011, Hasbro joined Shape Up Rhode Island and offered its healthy behavior campaign to all its U.S. employees. As a result, Hasbro achieved participation in this program and the team competition promoted networking across its organization, according to Johnson.
Convenience for its nearly 1,500 employees at its Rhode Island facilities is also a big factor in Hasbro’s wellness-program’s success, according to Johnson. Hasbro offers fitness programs in the evening right at its own gym facilities, including Zumba, Pilates, cardio kickboxing, hula hooping and yoga. Fitness trainers assist the employees. It is rumored that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head even make forays into the company gym to take part in exercise programs.
The goal is to enable employees to stay at work without feeling they have to rush off to the gym, according to Johnson. Hasbro picks up most of the tab, but employees are asked to pay a small fee through payroll deduction, about $5 per class.
Hasbro is self-insured for its health insurance, with the program administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. The Imagine wellness programs are all managed internally through a suite of services. The benchmarks and metrics for employees have shown that their health risks have come down a bit, according to Johnson. “It’s a return on our investment, the way we like to see it,” he said.
Hasbro has put emphasis on the importance of its employees eating nutritious food, too. The company regularly partners with its employee-volunteer Green Team and with its Sodexo-run cafeteria to offer programs such as weekly farmers markets and cafeteria incentives rewarding healthy behaviors. These include Lunch and Learn programs for preparing healthy cuisine, such as fat-free cooking and working with low-sodium, high-spice foods.
“We want to get people thinking differently about the food they eat,” said Kristina Peterson, director of corporate communications at Hasbro. As part of this effort, Hasbro began a program of community-supported-agriculture weekly food baskets for its employees.
“We work with all of our partners, such as Sodexo, to leverage them as best we can in promoting wellness,” Johnson said.
Hasbro offer wellness workshops during lunchtime approximately twice per month on topics such as Alzheimer’s, transcendental meditation, nutrition, the health benefits of laughter and yoga.
One Hasbro program that has proven very popular is Weight Watchers. There are onsite Weight Watchers’ meetings during lunch, and the company has just begun identifying Weight Watcher Point Values in its cafeteria, encouraging healthier choices.
The overall philosophy of Hasbro’s wellness efforts is to stay connected, offering fun and diverse programming for all levels of fitness and health.
Recognition from Hasbro President and CEO Brian Goldner is also an important component, both Johnson and Peterson said.
“Brian is a very fit and active individual. He certainly helps to set the tone,” said Johnson.
“Brian has some connection to all the different kinds of things that we’re doing. Typically, a team that would win in the Shape Up RI competition would be recognized by Brian, getting gift certificates and a personal note from Brian,” he said. “We also celebrate the winners within the news for our internal organization.”
The company also sponsors regular wellness fairs, promoting biometric screening, annual flu vaccines, first-aid training, personal health-risk assessments and ergonomics. But the key to overall strategy for the company is keeping employees from getting sick, Johnson said.
“Preventing illness is our continued focus,” he said. “By managing down preventive illness, that’s what’s going to drive down company costs.”
To accomplish this, it’s equally important to make the programs cost-effective. “Everything we do, we are trying to do in a cost-effective way,” Johnson said. “We don’t want to shift costs back to employees that would cause them to opt out of the wellness programs.” •