Booking a stay with health and wellness at Hyatt Regency Calgary (National HR Awards)

Winner, Healthy Workplaces Award
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/21/2015

Running a business 24-7, 365 days a year, the Hyatt Regency Calgary knows well the stresses of the job for employees. That’s why the hotel’s health and wellness program is focused on work-life balance, ensuring people have the breaks they need to stay healthy.


“We never close so we have to maintain a healthy workplace and encourage healthy options,” says Trish Carey, assistant director of human resources at the 15-year-old hotel. “We have people that work graveyard shifts and shift work and that can always be stressful on people’s lives at home, as well as their physical body.”


To that end, the hotel kickstarted a focus on health and wellness back in 2008.


“We really started to look at it in a different way in how we support that healthy lifestyle at work and not just say, ‘You should have something at home,’ and we brought it into the workplace,” she says.


As part of that, Hyatt Regency introduced a Health & Wellness Fair in 2009 that runs each May and showcases roughly 20 vendors, including the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Canadian Celiac Association, Canadian Blood Services, chiropractors, yoga centres, meditation centres, local gyms, spas, home nursing care, financial services, healthy eating/dieting services and massage schools.


The one-day event is open to all employees and their family and friends, and includes a nutritious lunch.

“We decided it would be a great way to showcase a lot of smaller, more community-based businesses who focus on health and wellness, and share that with our associates,” says Carey.


Many of the hotel’s employees are not originally from Calgary, with a “melting pot” of people from every culture and country, she says, so many aren’t really aware of what is available in the community. 


“It’s been really successful. And we’ve had many great community organizations come in… We’re pretty much maxed out at about 25 vendors, so that’s about as big as we wanted to go only because there’s only so much time people have to go through.”


Employees have really embraced the community side of the event, she says. For example, having Canadian Blood Services in attendance led to about 10 people giving blood at a clinic, with bus service provided by the hotel. Others have signed on with vendors presented at the fair, such as an organic food delivery service and backyard beekeeping.


The Hyatt Regency also has the Heart & Stroke Association of Alberta come in each year to do blood pressure testing for all 354 employees. In one case, a woman was found to have extremely high blood pressure, so she was sent to the doctor right away, says Carey.


“The doctor said if she had gone untreated, it would have probably resulted in either a heart attack or stroke, so it saved her life, I think. These are just some of the things we’ve offered and the payback has been enormous.”


The year 2009 also saw the relaunch of a cafeteria that provides plenty of healthy food options. In addition to hot food entrees, there’s a full salad bar that includes 30 toppings, along with soup and free drinks. 


Complimentary fruit and healthy snack items are also offered throughout the day.


“They basically renovated the entire space, and it’s a very warm and friendly environment,” she says. “We have the big family style seating, so it’s very welcoming, we have televisions in there and a little Internet café, so it’s a really great place to just come and relax and refuel, so that space is really important.”


Hyatt Regency Calgary also offers a farmer’s market to employees about once a month that sells fresh produce, meats, fish, cheese and other popular grocery items, all at wholesale prices.


“It offers them fresh, excellent quality food at the lowest price possible,” says Carey. “Our sole motivation in offering this was to pass on savings on the rising price of groceries to our associates.”


A newer development in the health and wellness arena at the hotel involves the fitness centres. These were always offered free to all managers and supervisors as part of their sign-on package, along with access to the gym and pool. But this year, the facilities were made available to all the staff.


“We can track how many people use it and it is always in use, so it’s been really successful,” she says.


To encourage more employees to bike to work, there is secure, underground, heated bike parking with showers, towels and lockers available. The sales and catering departments also have a lunchtime walking club and employee ski trips are organized each year. Employees also participate in community events such as Light the Night Walk of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada and the Sport Chek Mother’s Day Run, Walk & Ride.


Stress reduction

As a stress-reduction initiative, the hotel offers a dance/yoga class that combines 30 minutes of ballroom dance instruction set to fast-paced pop music, followed by 30 minutes of yoga instruction. And realizing that finances can also be stressful, the Hyatt Regency has the Co-operators on-site to provide quotes and discounted rates on insurance. Money Mentors, a non-profit organization that teaches consumers the basics of money management, also comes to the 355-room hotel.


The corporate EAP includes work-life specialists, short-term counselling for employees and families, child and elder care resources, work and education, financial advice, legal advice and psychological services.


And when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of the wellness programs, the Hyatt Regency looks at things such as workers’ compensation claim costs, which are down year over year, and sick days, which are also decreasing, says Carey. “We have paid sick days for our associates, which is unusual in our business.”


It’s hoped that with all of the services and education provided, employees will understand the correlation between fitness and reduced stress, she says.


“Overall, we provide a really great work environment, our team is very engaged and we know that because they’re happy.”

That’s seen in the engagement scores, as the participation rate of 92 per cent is the highest among the Canadian Hyatt properties, she says, and employees consistently score the hotel in the top 10 percentile for Hyatts across North America.

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