WDS Construction Recognized as a Blue Zones Project Approved Worksite

by Jim Dittmann
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WDS Construction Recognized as a Blue Zones Project Approved Worksite

Photo submitted – (Left to Right): Janelle Wiebelhaus-Finger, Blue Zones Project Engagement Lead; Joeli De Young, WDS Construction HR Administrator; Ben Westra, WDS Construction President, Linda Klinger, BDCH Director of Rehabilitation; Annie Syens, WDS Construction Marketing Coordinator; Renee Peterson, Blue Zones Project Worksite Committee Co-chair

Blue Zones Project(r) Dodge County held a ribbon cutting celebration today at WDS Construction to celebrate them as the newest worksite to become Blue Zones Project Approved(tm). This designation demonstrates the commitment that WDS has to focusing on employee and community well-being.

Ben Westra, President of WDS Construction, said, “Being able to provide a healthy culture to employees is something that we believe is very valuable and we are excited to move forward with this.”

A small but committed group formed the WDS Well-Being Advisory Committee to spearhead efforts for employee well-being within the company. The group initiated actions that would encourage employees to add more movement into their day, take time for micro-breaks and destress when needed, and give back to the community.

WDS Construction is encouraging employees to move naturally in several ways. For example, bike racks were added this spring, nudging employees to consider incorporating biking into their daily commute. Stairwells are well lit with both natural and artificial light, making them an attractive alternative to elevators. The new facility was built with large windows to incorporate natural light, which has been proven to boost moods among other benefits. The facility also offers showers and an on-site fitness center. The fitness center is creatively used for meetings with employees either walking side by side on treadmills or sitting on stability balls. And to celebrate National Walking Day in early April, WDS Construction launched Walking Moais, groups of employees that committed to walking together for at least ten weeks.

To help employees relax and de-stress, WDS incorporated a quiet space to retreat to on the second floor. This space not only has an abundance of natural light, but it also has comfortable furniture and live plants. An employee herb garden also welcomes visitors in the gallery. Employees are also encouraged to take micro-breaks, short breaks of less than two minutes, which minimize muscle fatigue and increase productivity.

An important way WDS Construction is improving employee well-being is by encouraging its employees to help others. Knowing your gifts and sharing them with others leaves individuals feeling more fulfilled and happier. WDS Construction president, Ben Westra, started WDS Works, a branch of WDS focused on local charities, schools, churches, and other not-for-profit entities. Through WDS Works, the company not only gives monetary gifts, but it also shares the talents of employees and the purpose of the company with the community. WDS Works has helped in the construction of Wheaton Academy’s baseball concession building and Harvest Church among other community projects. Employees who are encouraged by their employer to volunteer in a meaningful way report higher employee satisfaction.

Joeli De Young, HR Administrator of WDS Construction said, “A lot of what Blue Zones Project recommends was already in place at WDS Construction and that was encouraging. After partnering with Blue Zones Project, we were really able to intentionally take wellness to the next level with Blue Zones Project’s guidance and direction. With moving into our new building, you can really see that with all of the open windows allowing for natural light and the new fitness center in the basement to gather as a community as well. It has been really neat to see employees lead step challenges and, in general, encourage each other about making healthy choices. I am proud to be part of a workplace that values and invests in their employees’ health and wellness and also in the community.”

Brought to Dodge County by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC, Blue Zones Project is a community-by-community well-being improvement initiative-designed to make healthy choices easier through sustainable changes to environment, policy, and social networks.

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