DOT Integrated Financial was the recipient of the Employer Award (<1,000 employees) for Benefits Canada’s 2011 Workplace Health & Benefits Awards.

When an employee passed away last year from leukemia, Marty Shaw, CEO of DOT Integrated Financial in Toronto, was glad that he had set up a wellness program for his 60-odd employees. “Not that you can out-walk or out-exercise a serious illness like leukemia,” he says. “But if we can make people more aware of their health, go to their doctor for regular checkups and adopt healthy habits, that’s a good thing.”

DOT Integrated Financial’s first-ever health and wellness program was implemented a year and a half ago with the goal of improving organizational health and embedding health and wellness into the company culture. It started with a customized Speak Out Wellness Survey to solicit employees’ feedback that could then be used to shape a wellness program to appeal to their needs and interests. Three risk factors were identified: stress, nutrition and exercise.

Senior leadership is always crucial to a successful program, and Shaw’s commitment to the process was apparent right from the beginning. When only 10 people showed up for the first health screening, the CEO personally rounded up another 25 employees to see the nurse. “One of those people found out that his cholesterol and blood pressure were through the ceiling,” Shaw recalls. “As a result, he changed his behaviour and habits. I think that’s a good outcome.”

With boosting physical activity as a major goal, the company launched the Step In & Step Out pedometer challenge, in which eight teams of employees competed on how many steps they averaged each day. About 62% of the workforce participated, and 90% of those achieved their challenge goals. Shaw also got employees to enter The Walk to End Women’s Cancers, with four participating the first year and 10 the next. Physical activity is now included as much as possible at company events—last year’s company picnic, for example, included volleyball and tug-of-war. By putting together a bowling evening and a road hockey team, DOT Integrated Financial’s employees not only burned off a few calories but also raised money for charity.

“Raising money is an important part of our wellness initiative,” says Shaw, adding that, although there was initially a separate wellness committee, it has since joined with the social committee and the charity committee to become The Committee. “We decided to merge them together since it is really all about the same goal,” he explains. “One of the best outcomes from our wellness activities is the money we’ve raised for charity. It’s also been great to see employees exercise together, get to know one another better and interact more at work.”

Shaw has now stepped back to let other leaders in the workplace keep up the wellness momentum, and he’s especially proud of the role that his children, David and Marni—who also work at the company—are playing in running the programs. “Everyone is working hard to keep the mental, physical and charitable aspects of the program front and centre,” he says. “We see this as a long-term initiative and have plans to expand as we go along, because it has real benefits for our employees.”

Sonya Felix is a freelance writer based in St. Catharines, Ont.

Get a PDF of this article and other gala coverage.

Related articles:

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

Join us on Twitter

Add a comment

Have your say on this topic! Comments that are thought to be disrespectful or offensive may be removed by our Benefits Canada admins. Thanks!

* These fields are required.
Field required
Field required
Field required