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2013 Healthiest Employers: POLARIS Laboratories®

Tom Harton
August 15, 2013
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winner OR finalist 100-499 EMPLOYEES

logo-polaris-168.gifPOLARIS Laboratories®, a fluid analysis firm located on the northwest side of Indianapolis, is preparing for a move—and using that move as a springboard to better health for its 155 Indianapolis-based employees.

When POLARIS Laboratories® employees move a couple of miles away to their new headquarters building this October they’ll find more than a new workspace. They’ll also have access to a fitness center being developed in the building, and it’s a fitness center they helped create.

Miriam Posluszny, the firm’s human resources manager, said the company has been surveying employees to find out what kinds of fitness equipment they want in the new fitness center. American Health & Wellness Group helped the company identify core groups of equipment that are needed and then asked employees to help with final selections.

Once employees are trained on how to use the facility they’ll be able to take advantage of the latest advancement in a culture of wellness that started to develop when the company was founded 14 years ago. Several employees, including two of the owners, have or had relatives who also worked for the company, so there’s a great appreciation at POLARIS Laboratories® of how a wellness program can benefit entire families.

Fresh fruit, filtered water and involvement in community fitness events were there from the beginning. Then came indoor bicycle racks and a basketball hoop. In the past year POLARIS Laboratories® partnered with an outside vendor to bring the program up to full speed and get more measurable results. Personal web portals to help employees track their progress and to learn about diet and exercise tips were part of the upgrade, as are one-on-one sessions with a health coach and monthly wellness seminars held on-site and on company time.

Wellness tools such as cooler bags, reusable water bottles, pedometers, a biweekly wellness newsletter and posters are all easy to spot at POLARIS Laboratories®. The cooler bags are meant to encourage employees to bring their lunch to work rather than go out for fast food. A common lunch spot for those who want to get away from the office is the salad bar at a nearby grocery, Posluszny said.

POLARIS Laboratories® also offers healthy snack options, such as trail mix instead of brownies at office meetings, and food prep stations throughout the office. It’s all part of the firm’s focus on creating a healthy culture, which means a full range of options to learn about exercise, nutrition, stress, blood pressure management, diabetes and smoking cessation.

The firm’s nine-member wellness committee is in the midst of planning a walking program with incentives designed to keep employees active in the winter months. But before the snow flies a team of 20 POLARIS Laboratories® employees will see if they’re strong enough to move a commercial airliner. POLARIS Laboratories® is participating in the Plane Pull Challenge, an event benefitting Special Olympics to be held near the old Indianapolis airport terminal.

While some teams are all about winning the competition, Posluszny said the diverse group that will represent POLARIS Laboratories® is more focused on simply having fun and working together. “We’ll be really excited if we get the plane to move,” she said.

It’s that same spirit of fun and fellowship that motivates the POLARIS Laboratories® softball team. “We are sometimes lucky just to win a game,” Posluszny said, “but it provides an outlet for physical activity.”•

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