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Making wellness a part of everyday life

In a competitive hiring market, employers are motivated to provide premium benefits to attract the best and brightest job seekers. The life science industry, where companies are focused on using technologies to improve lives, is no exception.

"Time and time again, our surveys show how employees value physical activity as key to a part of their well-being," said Erica Shortsleeve, wellness manager for Life Technologies in Carlsbad. "We're proud that Life Technologies has worked hard to create a best-in-class fitness center and wellness programs that benefit our employees."

Featuring a multi-tiered approach encouraging healthy behavior and exercise, Life Technologies aims to improve employee health through its convenient and user-friendly wellness programs.

"We seek to build a culture of health that enables employees to maximize their full potential, reduces health care costs and makes the company a great place to work," Shortsleeve said. "A major focus is on physical activity, so we promote exercise as part of our employees' everyday life."

Early on, the company supported wellness programs including online health risk assessments, smoking cessation programs, targeted health coaching and disease management. The company medical plan even has an on-call nurse that can help employees answer medical questions. Life Technologies, formed in November 2008 by the merger of Carlsbad-based Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems, recently hosted a six-week walking challenge that had more than 1,700 participants logging more than 128,000 miles of walking and physical activity. One team at the company's Grand Island, N.Y., facility walked more than 9 million steps.

"The company's philosophy of supporting employee exercise has long been an integral part of our HR efforts," Shortsleeve said. "Since 2005, both Legacy Invitrogen and Legacy Applied Biosystems have had extensive programs aimed at improving employees' health."

In Carlsbad, the centerpiece of the company's wellness initiative is the 'Fit for LIFE' Center. Named in an employee contest, Fit for LIFE offers daily group exercise classes, personalized fitness programs, state of-the-art cardio and weight equipment, and a highly trained staff to support employees and their health and fitness goals. Certified instructors run daily exercise classes with names like "Core Fusion," "Sunrise Yoga" and "CSI -- Cardio/Strength Intervals."

"The convenience of having an onsite gym at Life Technologies has really motivated me to work out more," said David Mandelman, a senior scientist at Life Technologies. "It's also a great time saver since it's so close."

So far, the numbers speak for themselves. In Carlsbad, more than half of the employees have signed up to be members of the onsite fitness center, with more than 8,000 employee visits since the 'Fit for LIFE' exercise center opened in February.

Within the next few years, Life Technologies hopes to expand many wellness programs globally to reach all 9,500 of its employees around the world.

"Starting a wellness program helps our recruiting efforts and improves employee morale," said Shortsleeve. "We are very fortunate to work for a company that values employees and strives to make the work experience -- and life experience -- even better."

Submitted by Life Technologies.

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