Salo is Recognized as the First Blue Zones Certified Workplace in America.
MINNEAPOLIS- April, 24, 2013– Salo, LLC embarked on a landmark initiative to become the first Blue Zones Certified Workplace in America. The initiative employed a systematic, environmental approach to workplace well-being that incorporates shifts in workplace policies, work and home environments and social networks to achieve a new level of corporate vitality. The Blue Zones strategy focuses on optimizing the life radius of employees instead of individual behavior change.
The Blue Zones certified workplace initiative is based on findings from an ongoing worldwide Blue Zones study funded by National Geographic and the National Institutes on Aging and backed by third party research on the best practices in health, longevity and happiness around the world. Beginning in 2002, Blue Zones founder, Dan Buettner led his team of demographers and scientists on expeditions to identify and meticulously research the world’s longevity hotspots. In each Blue Zones area identified, Buettner and his team found that people reach age 100 at rates significantly higher than the rest of us, and on average, they live longer, healthier lives. They also suffer a fraction of the rate of killer diseases found in America. Buettner summarized the common threads of those longevity lifestyle habits and cultures and, in 2008, wrote the New York Times best-selling book “Blue Zones, Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest” based on these findings.
In 2009, the Blue Zones organization led a 10-month pilot project in Albert Lea, Minnesota where Buettner and his team worked with civic and community leaders to apply the Blue Zones principles to the town’s population. The program was very well received and achieved an average increase in life expectancy of 2.9 years for participants. Employers in that city not only reported a decline in healthcare claims, but also a drop in absenteeism.
Based on the success of the Albert Lea initiative, Buettner went on to work with larger populations – an effort that culminated in the Blue Zones Project™ by Healthways initiative in the beach cities near Los Angeles. That initiative began in 2010. Most recently, Iowa’s Governor, Terry Branstad, recognized the benefits of investing in well-being and engaged the Blue Zones Project by Healthways to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation over the next five years.
Salo is the first company to participate in the Blue Zones Certified Workplace project. The project utilized lifestyle management materials to support people’s health and well-being that were developed by Blue Zones through research and direct studies and supported by the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.
Salo took steps to optimize its employees’ environments by setting up a series of subtle ‘nudges’ and ‘defaults’ that make healthier choices the easier choice. All employees of Salo and its consulting, staffing and recruiting brands, as well as their significant others were invited to participate in the Blue Zones workplace initiative. At the onset of the program, participants took assessments to determine a baseline for well-being, vitality and happiness and had the option to participate in on-going vitality coaching. At the culmination of the six-month program, these same assessments were administered to determine the degree of change in these areas. Additionally, Salo tracked metrics including employee engagement, health care claims, followers on social media sites, attrition, uptick in unsolicited business and employment inquiries, as well as the overall effect on the bottom line. Salo believes as they invest in their employees’ enhanced well-being and engagement, not only will the employees benefit individually, but as a byproduct, the firm will benefit as well.
Gwen Martin, co-founder and managing partner of NumberWorks, a Salo affiliate, lead the Blue Zones Certified Workplace initiative for the entire Salo organization. Along with firm co-founders Amy Langer and John Folkestad, Martin was among the earliest advocates of Salo’s 2008 collaboration with Dr. James Levine and the Mayo Clinic that measured the impact of movement at work on weight loss. The study was very successful and resulted in across-the-board weight loss for participants, as well as a measurable increase in employee productivity and firm-wide profitability for Salo.
In September, 2012, the Blue Zones initiative was introduced by Martin and Buettner to employees of the entire Salo organization. The goal, both say, was to share the Blue Zones principles with employees and encourage them to make mindful lifestyle changes at home and at work and to actively participate in the certification process for themselves. If they do, Buettner says, they can achieve the same level of health, well-being and longevity which exist in the Blue Zones areas that he has identified throughout the world. “The workplace is the next frontier for Blue Zones. Workplaces with greater well-being have fewer healthcare costs and are among the best places to work,” he said. “Our goal today is to make healthier choices easier for all Salo employees.”
Martin also sees Blue Zones as the next frontier for the firm. “With the Mayo Clinic study, the emphasis was on weight loss. With Blue Zones, we’re focusing on a holistic approach to overall well-being which will lead to the longevity of our employees and their families. We will be implementing the principles of the Blue Zones research in our work and home environments,” Martin explained.
With Salo’s track record of continuous evolution in innovative ways to work, the corporate Blue Zones certified workplace initiative was the logical next step for the firm. And if history is any measure, Buettner’s mission to help people live longer, healthier happier lives will become the basis for a great partnership with Salo’s forward thinking workforce.
Salo is a leader in driving business outcomes by leveraging talent in senior-level finance, accounting and human resources professionals, staff-level accounting talent; as well as, finance and accounting executive search services. The award-winning firm is among the fastest-growing contract staffing companies in the country with offices in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago.
About Blue Zones
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in The New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive—both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered healthcare costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones certified workplace initiative is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
Healthways business is improving well-being, understanding needs within customer populations, and engaging individuals in healthy changes. Science fuels the evolution of our capabilities. Through sophisticated training and technology and personalized support, our dedicated nurses, health coaches, dietitians and other specialists bring their passion for health improvement to every personal interaction. We reduce healthcare costs, lower risks and raise performance for our customers. We help people lead healthier lives. For three decades, we have led the development of new approaches to further our purpose: creating a healthier world, one person at a time. For more information, visit www.healthways.com.