McKesson Canada donates $10K raised through employee wellness challenge

McKesson Canada is combining wellness and philanthropy by donating $10,000 to the Paralympic Foundation of Canada on behalf of employees following a corporate wellness challenge.

The funds were raised this past summer during the six-week challenge, called Road to Rio, in which 358 employees formed 52 teams and accumulated 5.7 million points. The points were earned by demonstrating healthy behaviours, such as cycling, walking, running or eating well, according to Geneviève Fortier, senior vice president of human resources and public affairs at McKesson Canada.

Employees kept track of their progress through an online platform called Sprout, which proved to be a great motivator for those who thrive on challenges, says Fortier. “No matter what their target was in the beginning, [employees] wanted to be among the top five, the top three, and right in the winning team.”

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The team that earned the most points were deemed the champions and received gift certificates, while the company donated $10,000 to the foundation on its behalf. The challenge also recognized teams that showed great spirit, came up with creative names and put in a lot of effort with prizes that included fitness trackers and bonus points, says Fortier.

Three years ago, McKesson Canada made concrete goals around improving the health of its employees and after adopting a wellness tracking platform, started hosting three to four challenges annually. The competitions have proven to be very popular among employees, says Fortier, and each one has a different prize available to win.

“Sometimes the surprise would be that the winner would have one week of vacation paid. Other times, we would buy you a Fitbit bracelet [or] pay for the registration fee for something you like. It has been working very well.”

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While the Road to Rio challenge is the first time the company has linked its wellness challenges to philanthropy, Fortier says “the connection is obvious. Whenever we do engagement surveys, [employees] tell us how important it is for them to see [McKesson] as a good corporate citizen and they want to be a part of it.”

The challenge was also a way to highlight that the company was an official partner of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan American Games and a sponsor of Canadian paralympic wheelchair rugby player David Willsie, notes Fortier. “David embodies what you want in an athlete. He has strong values tied to us so when the sponsorship finished, we wanted to do more. That’s where the idea of sponsoring for the Rio games came into play.”

Wellness challenges that come with incentives, recognition and that connect people are often effective at engaging employees, says Karley Middleton, wellness consultant at HUB International STRATA Benefits Consulting in Winnipeg.

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“Any angle that you can add to integrate wellness into either fundraising or social activities is always a positive because it brings everybody’s opinion and knowledge back to wellness and how it connects to other things,” says Middleton. “The challenge aspect brings a little bit more fun to it so it doesn’t seem quite as serious,” she adds.

Fortier shares the same sentiment and says that after this initiative’s success, McKesson Canada has decided to plan another wellness challenge that will raise funds for a charitable cause next year.

“We truly believe that if you’re taking care of your employees, you’re going to have better productivity and ultimately better outcomes,” says Fortier. “That’s what we’ve been seeing. All the indicators we’re looking at have been improving for the past three years whether it’s disability or consumption of drugs.

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