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Brainard Strategy Celebrates San Diego’s Healthiest Companies

With its year-round enjoyable weather, proximity to beaches, deserts and mountains, and a high concentration of military and ex-military personnel, San Diego provides a unique environment for businesses to encourage a healthy living and working environment. This rich culture of recreation and fitness is set to be celebrated in a survey conducted by the San Diego Business Journal for its third annual Healthiest Companies Awards. This wide-ranging survey and ceremony is designed specifically to highlight employers who not only set a high-standard, but raise the bar for providing safe, healthy and productive work environments.

A confluence of many trends has led to industry-leading companies improving working conditions across the board. Though it can be difficult to measure the direct return on investment of Wellness and Health Benefits programs, conclusions from the National Institute for Health Care Reform highlight “the effects that wellness [programs] have on employee loyalty and satisfaction and on enhancing the firm’s reputation and brand.” Employees operating under safe conditions and provided adequate access to breaks, healthcare and other essential services, perform at higher productivity and can provide significant long-term savings for employers. As social media has improved access to information and lapses in protocol, the cost of unsafe working environs has the potential to significantly impact profits, public opinion and investor relations.

As such, the San Diego Business Journal’s 2012 Healthiest Companies Awards is a celebration of advances and successes in the realm of employee satisfaction. For the second year, the newspaper has turned to Carlsbad-based Brainard Strategy, a full-service business leadership and strategy consultation firm, to develop, administer and analyze a wide-ranging survey of local businesses to determine benchmarks and achievement in this discipline.

Through coverage in the San Diego Business Journal, businesses were asked to opt-in and answer questions such as “Is employee health part of the company’s written mission, vision and values?” and “Does your company have an annual wellness budget?” The survey also collected open-ended answers that were judged by a panel of experts in the field. This survey is a unique way to consider the many factors that make up the success of a Wellness Program, including the level of services provided, communication frequency, involvement and responsibility taken by upper-level management and budgetary considerations.

One unique trend to note is the way businesses of different sizes monitor employee health, create initiatives and measure success. A smaller firm might seek to implement more organic programs, such as a communal salad bar for lunch or physical activity options during breaks. Larger companies may devote resources to providing a company gym or healthy meals in their cafeterias. By recognizing firms with clear goals and leadership in this field, it is possible to determine industry-leading best practices and for companies without a wellness and benefits initiative to find inspiration and ideas in this fast-emerging field.