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“Companies are realizing that healthy, happy employees are productive employees-it’s as simple as that.”

Rona Lewis is particularly knowledgeable in her work with corporate wellness. Having been a “suit” herself, Rona understands the stress and unpredictability of corporate life and she truly knows how to work within these parameters to keep a healthy lifestyle.

Rona has over 20 years’ experience as a health and fitness expert for corporations, professional women and businessmen. Her background includes a degree in Advertising with a Minor in Phys. Ed. from Penn State University, along with certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and The American College of Sports Medicine.

RonaCorp

BusinessInterviews.com: How did the time you spent in the corporate world help influence the vision and direction of RonaCorp?

Rona: The media-sales world is a stressful place—I worked as a media rep (we sold TV and radio airtime to ad agencies) and when those commercial slots passed, we could never make it up… they were gone forever. I started as a sales assistant and worked my way up to VP of Sales. We had to find programming that worked with the demographics, Neilson and Arbitron ratings and buyer’s protocols to get the highest share of the budget possible. I vividly remember gulping Maalox and chewing Tums as the stress increased!

That experience stayed with me, even after I left and made my passion my profession. I don’t know any other corporate wellness “expert” with experience on BOTH sides of the desk, like I have. Because I worked with a lot of creative people, I understand their mindset, so RonaCorp specializes in increasing creativity by reducing stress and burnout with innovative mental games and exercises. This is, of course, along with the usual fitness, nutrition and healthy living guidance.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you elaborate on the process of developing a holistic wellness program that promotes heightened creativity?

Rona: When people hear the word “holistic,” they immediately think ‘New-Age Granola-Cruncher!” Actually, the term means taking into account all of somebody’s physical, mental, and social conditions. What we do is a process. We sit with the HR people to plan a basic course of action based on number of employees, budgets, environment and work hours. Then, after agreeing on a program, we ask the employees themselves what they think they would benefit from most-this is the start of the engagement process.

Next, RonaCorp incorporates the physical and nutritional aspects of the program with our revolutionary “imagination breaks.” These keep creativity high and allow the worker’s inner child to play! We have a blast and they go back to their desks with a renewed sense of fun-which promotes creativity…

BusinessInterviews.com: Are there any ways that employees can incorporate fitness at their office even if their employers don’t offer a corporate wellness program?

Rona: They need to be the instigators and cheerleaders for each other, but one of the most important aspects of an employee-led wellness program is to start slow and not get over-ambitious. Whoever leads it MUST make sure all participants have their doctor’s approval. Then, find out what appeals to their fellow employees. Get volunteers to head various activities-walking during lunch; making sure the break room has no junk food; a mid-day stretch break, etc. It can build from there.

If they want experts in, they can ask HR to sponsor lunch and learns—have them check their local Toastmaster Speakers Bureau. Since Toastmasters is a non-profit, they have professional level speakers who will come and speak for FREE! Many have experts on fitness, nutrition, stress reduction and other pertinent topics.

If there are enough employees who want an ongoing wellness program, perhaps hire a wellness company on a consultancy basis. It’s an effective way to get some guidance without breaking the bank. We at RonaCorp have done this many times.

BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you think that the area of corporate wellness is starting to expand so rapidly?

Rona: Companies are realizing that healthy, happy employees are productive employees-it’s as simple as that. Noticing an increase in stress and burnout, as well as the opportunity for illness prevention, many companies are seeing the need to invest in the health and well-being of their employees. Plus, the new Affordable Care Act makes it easier for smaller companies to implement wellness programs.

The average rate of turnover for US companies is about 14% for companies with 50 employees or less. National data shows that employee turnover ranges between 21-24% for firms of 1,000 or more. The actual dollar cost of turnover varies based on a variety of factors, but estimates range from $25,000 per individual and a range of 75% to 150% of an employee’s annual salary (Johnson, 2001). That’s a lot of cash to put out and time to put into training new employees!

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