May 13, 2013
Alcoa Wellness Program promotes a healthy lifestyle in Juruti
Mens sana in corpore sano - a healthy mind in a healthy body. Following the ideal of the Latin saying, in April Alcoa launched a program directed at the health of its employees, their families and the people of Juruti. Alcoa Wellness is in all of the company’s locations worldwide and seeks to encourage improvements in the quality of life by way of four pillars: being tobacco-free, encouraging healthy nutrition, increasing physical activity and enhancing well-being. The objective is to work with these themes and deploy actions that encourage healthier life-styles. “We want to promote psychological well-being and personal satisfaction and in day-to-day relationships. People who are healthy are happy in their work, at home with their family, with their bodies and in their minds. Everything is influenced by health”, explains Dr. Renata Pinto, coordinator of the Medical Service for Alcoa Juruti.
Over the last three years – from 2009 to 2012, there was a significant increase in the number of employees who were in the overweight band and suffering from 1st degree obesity (when the BMI – Body Mass Index – is between 30kg/m² and 35kg/m²). This gradual increase showed the need for immediate action. “We still don’t have what may be considered bad health, but if we hadn’t done anything, in a short time we’d be recording some major problems. Our intention is to avoid this happening. What’s more, regardless of the possibility of illness, one of the company’s Values is Health and it cares about the well-being of its employees”, Renata adds.
Because of this, and still as part of the program, Alcoa is encouraging its employees to take part in the Global Corporate Challenge 2013 (GCC), a competition that will measure the amount of exercise done by teams from all over the world over a 16-week period. The registered teams will receive accelerometers, equipment that measures how much a person walks every day. It is a way of stimulating employee determination in a fun and healthy way. Groups of seven employees can register and take part in the competition. The team that exercises most wins.
The 2,000 or so direct and indirect company employees also have the right to a discount in a health center to encourage them to practice exercise. The program also invites the whole community to join in collective activities, such as large, group physical exercise lessons in the central square in Juruti. The lessons take place regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. and are supported by the Town Administration, which provides the location.
“We want to encourage the population to practice physical activities, beginning with the lessons offered by Alcoa, and then to expand their healthy routine also throughout the week. Our employees have actively participated. We hope that people from Juruti will also join in the initiative on a regular basis”, is the invitation issued by Renata. According to the doctor, initial changes are always difficult and that is why it is normal for people to come up with excuses for not making them, like a lack of time. After a time, however, the new behavior becomes an acquired culture, a habit, and, in the end, people miss it.
Aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy routine, geologist Edileuza Melo, who works in the Research and Prospecting area for Alcoa Juruti, insists on taking part in the program activities. “I like taking part in these health-related activities a lot. I have an eight-year old daughter and I know that it’s not easy being a mother, a woman and a professional all at the same time. In order to play this role of ‘Wonder Woman’ on a daily basis I discovered that the secret is taking good care of your health, keeping your body in balance and having a good diet, thereby guaranteeing physical and mental wellbeing. This demands a lot of will power and great dedication in the medium and long-term to be able to achieve long-lasting benefits”, she comments.
Edileuza believes that the motivation provided by the company goes beyond the practice of physical activities and that everybody should get involved and participate. “The Wellness initiative is positive for all of us, because it’s a stimulus to get us out of our sedentary ways. What’s more, it’s a good opportunity to interact with people in the community and meet work colleagues. The activities in the square in the open air end up being much more pleasurable and ‘light’. Rather than just doing exercise it’s an ideal time to set aside our stress and look after the quality of our life in a fun way”, says the geologist.
For Alcoa the investment in quality of life is also an ally in ensuring employee productivity and satisfaction. The initial target is to partially reduce the negative indices of obese and overweight people over the next year, by instituting changes in routine and maintaining periodic evaluations that will be carried out by an internal Quality of Life Committee. “Our advantage is that we’ll have more productive employees, who concentrate more, who get sick less often and who are absent from work less. As a result we’ll also reduce the chances of the accidents and mishaps that interfere with the daily processes, in addition to being able to rely on a more proactive and healthy community. Alcoa Wellness is a program in which all win, whether the company, employees or society”, adds Dr. Renata Pinto.
Alcoa Alumínio S.A. is a subsidiary of Alcoa Inc. which is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. The company employs approximately 61,000 people in 31 countries and for the eleventh consecutive year the company is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Alcoa is present in Latin America and the Caribbean where it has operations in Brazil, Jamaica and Suriname and about 7,000 employees. This year, the company completes 125 years of operations in the world.
In Brazil the company operates in the whole of the aluminum production chain, from bauxite mining to the production of transformed products. Alcoa has six production units and three offices in the states of Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Pará, Pernambuco, Santa Catarina, São Paulo and the Federal District. The company also has shareholdings in four hydroelectric power stations: Machadinho and Barra Grande on the border of the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul; Serra do Facão in Goiás; and Estreito, between Maranhão and Tocantins. In 2012, Alcoa recorded revenues of R$ 2,6 billion in Brazil. In the same year it was considered a benchmark in sustainability, being one of the year’s 21 model companies in the Guia EXAME de Sustentabilidade [EXAME Magazine’s Sustainability Guide], besides being recognized as one of the Best Companies to Work for the eleventh consecutive year and Best Company for Women to Work in Brazil, by the Great Place to Work Institute. Further information can be found at www.alcoa.com.br.