Statistics Canada estimates $12 billion is lost annually due to workplace absenteeism. With tight workplace budgets, employers are doing more work with fewer resources. Overtime is a reality for many people. And after eight or 10 hours of staring at a computer, who really wants to head out to the gym? Unfortunately, overwork and poor habits like not exercising can lead to illness and missed work.
Victoria Poschadel, founder and president of VivaCore Consulting, understands the plight of the overworked office worker because she too felt that way while working in an office environment. After completing her personal trainer certificate and a Bachelor of Physical Education degree from the University of Alberta, Poschadel took a position with the Government of Alberta, working to reduce obesity rates and encourage better nutrition in the province.
While there, she realized how difficult healthy living actually is for office workers. After spending eight hours in front of a screen, she did not feel like being active either. Poschadel saw a need in the Edmonton business sector to educate employees and employers about the links between worker productivity, overall happiness in the workplace, and health.
So, two years ago she created VivaCore Consulting to promote active and healthy living among Edmonton businesses.
Studies show that over half of Albertans have little to no encouragement from their employers to become physically active, even though countless studies over the last decade have shown that physical activity (even just taking short walk breaks during the day) increases productivity, overall health and mood.
When a company first contacts VivaCore Consulting, they get an initial office needs and wellness evaluation. Depending upon the needs of the business, all employees can fill out a 10-minute survey about how they feel in the workplace, or Poschadel can question a random sampling of employees.
After completing the survey about overall workplace mood, productivity, needs, wants and general issues, VivaCore Consulting provides the employer a detailed report showing the office’s strengths and areas for improvement based on the direct feedback from employees. This method, says Poschadel, ensures that each assessment is based directly on the needs of the employees and ensures an individualized plan, as opposed to a cookie-cutter approach.
VivaCore’s approach depends on the services required. For example, if a number of people are physically uncomfortable at work, Poschadel’s team can do an ergonomic evaluation. If general education is needed, she can run lunch and learn sessions on work-life balance, being active, and some quick tips on healthy eating at work.
Some businesses have evolved a corporate culture of never taking breaks, while some employees avoid breaks of their own accord. Poschadel points out that studies show employees who work all day without taking lunch breaks are less productive and not as refreshed. Her team can work with these employers and employees to encourage lunch breaks, in-house exercise challenges and more active living.
Poschadel says when employees are happy, they work harder and have a better output. Employees likewise enjoy the extra help and assistance and feel like their companies are taking care of their health and needs.
For Poschadel, Edmonton was the perfect location to establish her business, as she has lived in the city for 12 years and attended university here. As well, with 75 per cent of working Albertans lacking access to programs to improve their overall health, fitness, and/or nutrition at their workplace, Poschadel hopes to address the growing need for at-work health education.
She enjoys working hands-on with people and seeing changes on an individual basis. That’s why VivaCore Consulting customizes each employer’s services depending upon the needs of the company and its employees. Some of the services VivaCore offers that directly impact employee performance include:
• wellness programs
• ergonomic analysis and adjustments
• e-learning modules
• lunch and learns
• facility management and referral
• workplace wellness challenges
• wellness retreats
By working with companies to make healthy and active living an integral part of every workplace, Poschadel and her team help save companies money through increased morale and productivity, and reduced absenteeism.
Pricing varies depending upon the services and size of the business. Also, she offers discounted rates for non-profit groups. VivaCore Consulting is offering a free initial first visit and evaluation between June and August 2011.
Story by Krista D. Ball
Photo by Larissa Mack