In late 2010, high-tech company Brocade consolidated its operations and moved a large group of employees to a new campus in San Jose, Calif. With the move, the firm had the luxury of building what Leanne Bernhardt, senior director of compensation and benefits, calls a state-of-the-art fitness center. At the same time, like many other organizations, Brocade was faced with rising health care costs.

Wanting to leverage the new fitness facility to better help employees manage their work balance, the company launched a WellFit council made up of a cross-functional group of about 10 people. The council was tasked with developing a strategy to “address this global problem that we had around improving the health and wellbeing of employees while managing the rising health care costs,” says Bernhardt.

The WellFit council decided to build a strategy based on five pillars: physical health and wellness, emotional and mental health, financial health, sustainable health and family health.

“When we first started we weren’t quite sure what would really stick, what people were most interested in, and we didn’t have a budget,” says Bernhardt.

First up? Wellness champions. “What we thought would help us tremendously was this whole idea around WellFit champions,” explains Bernhardt. It’s a global program, so there are about six or seven WellFit champions around the world who help tailor wellness initiatives to local interests.

“Although we have a global strategy, what we found is that the uniqueness at each of our sites – whether they be in North America or around the globe, is really different,” says Bernhardt. “As an example, you might have a very successful bike challenge in the U.S., but you might not find the same interest in India.”

But what has really sparked interest in wellness at Brocade is the company’s use of gaming and its inherent competitiveness. “Brocade is in an industry that is very competitive and what I found is that the more competitive our challenges and contests are, the more engaged people will be,” says Berhnardt.

To read more about Brocade and how it has incorporated gaming into its wellness program, watch for a story in the June 15 issue.

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