Chick-fil-A Inc. places a particular importance on employee health and wellness, believing that happy, healthy employees offer a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Fitness, wellness and nutrition are emphasized on every level of the organization, and these efforts are headed up Wellness Director Elizabeth Dixon. Since coming onboard with Chick-fil-A in 2004, Dixon has worked closely with her team, as well as Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy. TourDeFIT.com was extremely fortunate to sit down with Elizabeth to gleam more information about the restaurant’s industry leading Wellness Program, why Chick-fil-A makes it a priority to invest in employee health, and Elizabeth’s advice to other businesses aspiring to develop a successful Wellness Program.
Please tell me a bit about your wellness program- what programs and initiatives do you run?
“We have a variety of programs that include onsite wellness as well as programs across the country for our Operators and team members as well as their families. A few highlights for this summer are the Chick-fil-A Olympics where staff and spouses will compete on teams in basketball, wallyball, weight lifting, swimming, trail walking, trail running and a fun favorite – ping pong. Also, we are in training for the Rock & Roll half and full marathon in Savannah. We open this up to our Operators, team members, family members and staff as an opportunity to set a big goal, train together and then have a huge celebration at the event. “
How does Chick-fil-A inspire its employees to stay healthy and well?
“We have a few different audiences within the Chick-fil-A ‘family’ and each group is inspired differently. It is very important to us that we seek to know each audience and what will motivate them intrinsically. Motivations can range from the desire to perform at your personal best, have maximum energy for all elements of life (family, career, friends, or whatever their passion may be), to the idea of setting a positive and healthy example for those around us. Regardless of what the motivation each person may have, we do our best to make every experience as compelling and fun as possible!”
Why does Chick-fil-A make it a priority to invest in employee health?
“Chick-fil-A is a family owned business, and the genuine care for people starts at the top. Our President, Dan Cathy, is very passionate personally about health and wellness and desires to support employees in various aspects of their life, including physical health. Additionally wellness aligns with our corporate purpose. Within our corporate purpose it states “being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us…” and in wellness we take it very seriously that our role is to help Chick-fil-A as a organization fulfill this purpose by stewarding the bodies and health we have been given as individuals.”
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy at the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs
What on-site fitness and wellness amenities do you offer to your employees?
“We have a beautiful 11,000 square foot gym that includes 25 group exercise classes a week, personalized consultations in fitness and nutrition, cardio and strength equipment, racquetball, spinning, a 1.4 mile trail on campus, and locker room facilities that include every toiletry in order to keep it as we like to say ‘excuse free’.”
Please tell me about the Mooooove Challenge and how this helps to engage employees in your wellness initiatives.
“If you were to tell someone who has not been exercising consistently that they should be active most days of the week for 30 – 60 minutes there is a strong chance they would roll their eyes at you. BUT, if you were to ask that same individual if they would like to hike the Grand Canyon there is a greater chance that they would light up with excitement and ask if their son could hike it with them. You would share with this person that they would have to train for 6 – 8 months, exercising for 5 days a week but yet they would still seem eager because their eye is on the prize of an experience of a lifetime. This is the idea behind the Mooooove Challenge. Many of us are motivated greatly by having something to work towards, something that inspires us to wake up early to get that workout in the morning. Basically we “re-package” an ordinarily boring workout by wrapping it in a big appealing and exciting goal and we help them make it a reality. “
Please tell me about the Chick-fil-A U.S. City Challenge and how this helps to engage employees in your wellness initiatives.
“Many organizations are offering biometrics for their employees, but unfortunately depending on how it is communicated there is a tendency that the opportunity comes across as negative, threatening, and as a result leaves the employees irritated at their employer rather than thankful. The Chick-fil-A U.S. City Challenge is a way to “re-package” your typical assessments with a fun and engaging competition. The individual results are incredible as well as the corporate culture shifts that happen when employees work together and inspire each other for a common goal.”
Moving beyond employee wellness, how does Chick-fil-A encourage customers to take advantage of its healthy menu options?
“Chick-fil-A has a great resource online for understanding the menu and the number of healthy options that we offer. The menu is a menu of choice. All of our products are and always have been made with fresh ingredients.”
How do you feel that Chick-fil-A’s demonstrated commitment to employee health and wellness affects the company’s bottom line?
“Proving an ROI has been a challenge for most organizations to calculate and prove effectively, however, it there are elements that are intuitive. The healthier we are as people, the better we feel, the better we perform, the more we enjoy life, and the list continues. Corporately that makes a difference because the more creative we are, the sharper we think, the better we serve our customers, the more effective we are as a company. “
What advice do you have for businesses who want to develop a Wellness Program?
“Identify what your goals are, know your people, communicate in a way that they are inspired, and create programs that are remarkable – opportunities that people would naturally want to be a part of!”
Your Wellness Program success continues to be inspirational many companies. Do you have any mentors in the fitness and overall Wellness field and if yes, who and why?
“I love learning from others and intentionally spend time doing that quarterly. We have a group called the Atlanta Wellness Professionals that meets quarterly to learn from each other. I just returned from a trip to San Francisco visiting Apple, Google, Facebook and Cisco headquarters to learn and benchmark. There are so many organizations that are doing wellness very well and there is always something we can learn from each other!”
What do you do to stay fit and well?
“I love adventures, pushing myself physically and mentally, and trying new things. My favorites are surfing, cycling, running, and tennis. Each year I like to pick a new challenge to push me out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, which helps me personally but also helps me relate to others who are starting something new.”