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Pedometer walking program improves health of Georgia resort employees

Virgil Williams, CEO of Lake Lanier Island Resorts in Gainesville, Georgia, implemented a pedometer-based walking program as part of an employee health and wellness initiative launched last year, according to Insurance News Net.

Workers take their pedometers with them when they exercise, then sync the results to an online portal that provides custom wellness reports and helps them keep track of their progress.

Although Williams' original aim was to improve his employees' fitness and decrease costs associated with healthcare and benefits, the program ended up making some additional improvements as well.

More than 80 percent of employees who took part in the program and completed a survey about it reported that their camaraderie with fellow workers had increased as a result of their participation in the initiative, the news source reports. Additionally, 72 percent said they had permanently changed their lifestyles to accommodate pedometer walking, and 78 percent indicated that their sense of morale toward their employer had increased. Williams also noticed lower rates of absenteeism in the workplace after the program had been implemented.

Because the results of the initiative were so positive within his workforce, Williams decided to expand it and create the Legacy Wellness Program, which encourages wellness among guests as well as employees. He now offers the walking program to corporate retreat clients in addition to his own workers.

"The goal of this unique program is to help educate and motivate as well as set and reach health and wellness goals," Williams explained to the news source.

A key component of a successful employee wellness effort is the involvement of upper management, and Williams – a cancer survivor – brings that to the table as an active participant in the program who is known to begin staff meetings with impromptu aerobic challenges.

Technology and data research firm Healthiest Employers tracks the success of corporate wellness programs such as that of Lake Lanier Island Resorts, and recently partnered with the Dayton Business Journal on its first annual Healthiest Employers competition.

Participating employers were given a score after completing an online assessment to measure their programs' culture and leadership commitment, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, reporting and analysis, foundational components and strategic planning. Winners included the city of Kettering and the YMCA of Greater Dayton.