Beau Rivage health program a hit

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Published: February 2,2009

At the 2009 Best Places to Work awards program held Jan. 14 in Jackson, MGM Mississippi Properties, which includes Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, was named a winner in the mega-large category. The award is presented to those companies that offer their employees a safe, productive — and healthy — workplace.

There were a number of reasons why Beau Rivage was selected for this honor, and not the least of those is the casino’s Healthy Living Campaign, designed to keep workers in top form while also offering a little fun along the way.

Just last month, Beau Rivage, Mississippi’s largest gaming venue that employs approximately 3,500 employees, kicked off its 2009 Healthy Living Campaign. The event included awards, health-related trivia contests, free health screenings and healthy dining options.

The 2009 version of the Healthy Living Campaign will have multiple components. For example, the kick-off event held last month launched the 2009 “Start!” walking program contest, as well as offering a chance to recognize the winners from the 2008 “Start!” walking program. The top three teams and individual walkers were honored and took home health and fitness-related prizes.

Allison Smith, director of human resources at Beau Rivage, said, “There were a hodgepodge of reasons we started the program. One was the statistics from Mississippi that showed us leading the nation in obesity. We wanted to change that perception, and to do that we need to change the statistics.”

Beau Rivage had focused on healthy workers for some time, and the Healthy Living Campaign grew in 2008. However, the casino wanted to ratchet up the program, branding it to its workers. Smith worked with Mary Cracchiolo-Spain, who heads up Beau Rivage’s PR efforts. So, the casino is expecting even bigger results in 2009.

Since reopening following Hurricane Katrina, Beau Rivage has implemented several physical activity options. These include, in addition to “Start!,” creating an indoor walking track, numerous attractive and well-lit stairwells, the Ocean Springs Bridge Walking Club and complimentary and discounted gym memberships.

The program also stresses healthy diets. As part of the new bi-weekly “Get Fit Fridays” in the Cabana Beach Café, Beau Rivage’s employee dining room, employees can choose from an expanded menu of healthy food options and receive take-home recipe cards. Nutrition options that Beau Rivage offers employees include healthy options in the employee dining room, more than 40 items on the salad bar, fat-free salad dressing, carving station, lean cuisine, whole-grain bread, baked meat, fruits and vegetables. The company offers a payroll deduction Weight Watchers program, other discounted weight loss programs and regular nutrition articles.

Fighting illness is also incorporated. Every other week, employees may receive free B-12 shots, blood draws, PSA screenings and blood pressure tests. Employees participating in the complimentary health screenings will be entered into a quarterly drawing to win a day off with pay. At the end of the year, one lucky employee will win a grand prize giveaway of a three-day/two-night spa getaway at the San Destin Resort in Florida.

Cultural activities implemented include an annual health fair, flu shots for employees, blood pressure and pulse reading available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, company-sponsored health and wellness clinic, smoke-free back of the house, smoking cessation programs, continuous education and the formation of a health and wellness council.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed. The American Heart Association (AHA) recently recognized Beau Rivage as a Gold Level Fit Friendly Company and featured the company as part of an eight-page special section in Forbes magazine. The AHA award is given to companies that offer fitness and wellness programs and support to their employees. In order to be considered for the award, companies must employ a minimum of 25 people and offer employees physical activity support, increase healthy eating options at work, promote a wellness culture and implement activities to increase physical activity, nutrition and culture in the workplace.

By all accounts, Beau Rivage said the Healthy Living Campaign is a success.

“Our employees are excited about the health and wellness campaign and the opportunity to live healthier ‘fit-friendly’ lives,” said Smith.

She pointed out that Beau Rivage wanted the program to effective and fun, and has been pleased with the results.

Smith added with a laugh, “I didn’t think our workers could get excited over turkey burgers, but I was wrong.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

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