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Fitness Focus: San Diego County Regional Airport Authority wellness program

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is an independent, state-chartered enterprise that employs approximately 350 professionals in the airport management industry at San Diego International Airport at Lindbergh Field. The organization has consistently demonstrated a commitment to employee wellness, viewing the program as a method of achieving a sustainable work force. This means the organization invests in preserving employees as business assets, as opposed to managing them as an expense.

One such business practice is employee wellness, which has become a competitive and compelling initiative; our flagship program called Fitness Focus, awards up to $375 per year to employees for engaging in healthy activities. This includes preventive care, community service and seminars, as well as physical exercise, and is intended to encourage healthy lifestyles and sustain employee productivity. The airport authority's work force is 100 percent enrolled in the Fitness Focus program, with 20 percent claiming awards in 2009. We have plans underway to engage the remaining 80 percent. Each year the airport authority has allocated resources to support employees in pursuit of their health and wellness goals, whether they want to lose weight, reduce stress or simply improve their overall lifestyles.

Each year the human resources team complements the Fitness Focus program with activities and challenges to further engage employees in healthy lifestyles. In 2008, the organization implemented an internal competition in which employees strived to become the airport authority's "Biggest Loser" and win a Wii Fit. Following the success of the weight loss challenge, and based on data from organization-wide health risk assessments approved and funded by the organization's board of directors, an opportunity was identified to improve employee Body Mass Index (BMI). The new BMI Challenge is currently on.

In 2008, 78 percent of the work force participated in the inaugural year of health risk assessments in exchange for a tax-deferred deposit into an individual employee's flexible spending account. The data collected from the assessments, including biometric screenings, created a baseline set of data for the airport authority to utilize when crafting future Fitness Focus activities and challenges. The health risk assessments were a "win-win" addition to work force sustainability initiatives: the employee gained valuable feedback about their individual health, and the organization gained valuable data and insight on areas for improvement.

The airport authority offers a Dine and Discuss program, where employees receive a presentation from an industry expert on a wide range of topics during their lunch hour. The varied curriculum helps employees become aware of the relationship between balanced nutrition, adequate physical activity, preventive care and lifetime health.

Fitness Focus is the keystone component stimulating the airport authority's employee engagement in personal health and wellness, resulting in an empowered and productive work force. This program expressly models three of the organization's seven values statements:

* providing a safe, secure, quality oriented, highly efficient environment;

* personal involvement is a job responsibility; and

* that everyone counts and we count on everyone.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority's demonstrated commitment to the wellness program results in employees being treated as assets to be valued, appreciated and preserved. It also makes good business sense.

Submitted by San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

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