Forklift Replacement Parts Maker Promotes Worker Health

1109-11A Toyota Location-092Officials at TVH, the world’s largest maker of forklift replacement parts, have long understood that their business is only as robust as their employees’ health.  That’s why the company has made a substantial investment in workplace wellness by providing its workers with it’s own health facility, “The Nudge Center” at its Olathe, Kansas, headquarters.

“The Nudge Center is great,” said Lisa Ayres, who has worked at TVH for the past 10 years. “I want to play pool and socialize there instead of going out to smoke, which I used to do.”

Creating Wellness as a Culture

That kind of change in thinking is precisely what motivated TVH officials to create their workplace wellness program in the first place,according to Els Thermote, the company’s chief executive officer.

“Your health is the most important thing,” Termote told Materials Handling Network. “I want to help make people aware of the small things you can do to make a difference in your health. By ‘nudging’ them to live a healthier lifestyle. On top of that, it helps teamwork, it improves morale and productivity.”

The efforts to improve workplace wellness have paid off. Since the center was first opened in 2012, 15 TVH employees have stopped smoking permanently and since 2011 TVH workers have collectively lost more than 1,900 pounds and have walked or ran more than 1,300 miles in local organized 5K races.

Humble Beginnings

The program originally began as a group of workers who wanted to get together after work to walk. The walking group discussed health and began offering each other small prizes for reaching health objectives.

A newsletter soon followed. In it, TVH workers learned about healthy living. The trend toward wellness caught on among employees and soon suggestions for improving people’s health began to flow in from all sides: The company should sponsor a “Biggest Loser” contest or should start providing fresh fruit to all workers on a weekly basis.

Thanks to employee enthusiasm, TVH management was soon inspired to expand their efforts to improve the health of their workforce and in 2011 it officially created its own health and wellness department. Known among workers as the Nudge department, it started with 18 wellness offerings in 2011 and today has more than 90 programs that workers can participate in.

In 2012, TVH opened the Nudge Center, a social and fitness area where workers could enjoy health benefits such as education classes, partial reimbursement for gym memberships and 5K races, health contests and monthly employee appreciation surprises such as something nutrition-related or a special event.

The wellness effort has really caught on at TVH. Today, it’s not uncommon to see people walking around the company’s headquarters during their breaks or for executives to be conducting “walking meetings”.

Wellness is also a culture. So the more workers who participate the program, the less likely other workers will be to bring fast food in for lunch or to smoke around their co-workers.

The program also has had a positive impact on employee morale. A recent employee survey cited the wellness program as one of the best reasons for working at TVH.

The next step? TVH currently is building an on-site health clinic where workers can receive health care without ever having to leave work.

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