Workers strolling from Vermont to Canada

In an effort to boost wellness, firm sets up contest to see who can be first to walk enough distance to make it to the corporate head office in Ontario

Workers at a Vermont plant are walking all the way to Mississauga, Ont., in an effort to get healthy and win thousands of dollars in prizes.

About 100 employees at CFM Corporation’s Randolph, Vt., plant have taken up the company’s challenge to improve health and wellness. The company has assembled 20 teams of five people each with a common goal — to be the first to accumulate 1,299 miles of walking distance, enough to stroll from the Vermont plant to the Canadian head office in Mississauga, according to a report in the Randolph Herald.

Employees wear pedometers that count the number of steps they take every day, and those steps are in turn calculated into miles — 10,000 steps equals five miles. Tanya LaFrance, human resources manager, said the initiative, which has only been running for a week, has already had a significant impact.

“It’s boosted morale like crazy,” she told the Herald. “I’ve been here 23 years and this is one of the most positive things I’ve seen happen.”

The idea came from another HR staffer at CFM’s Vermont plant, who got the idea at a conference she was attending.

“Our ultimate goal is reducing medical costs, improving general health in an aging workforce and having fun,” said LaFrance.

A number of checkpoints have been setup along the way to reward staff. The first comes at the nine-mile mark, representing the distance from the Randolph plant to a plant in Bethel, Vt. The second checkpoint is 309 miles later, when employees will have walked to the sister plant in Renfrew, Ont. Further checkpoints follow as staff virtually make their way throughout Ontario to Orillia and on to the corporate headquarters.

The prizes become more valuable at each checkpoint, ranging from a water bottle to a barbecue grill.

CFM is a manufacturer of: hearth and heating products; barbecue and outdoor products; and water filtration and purification products.

LaFrance said about 40 per cent of the 250 workers at the plant are participating in the program.

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