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Workplace Wellness at TVH

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TVH, from the outside, is known as the worldwide leading supplier of quality replacement parts and accessories for the material handling and industrial equipment industry. What is less known, however, is it’s “what’s on the inside” that makes TVH strong.

Workplace wellness is trending now, but TVH recognized the importance of workplace health over five years ago. Not only did TVH recognize the importance of employee health, they took action. TVH knew they couldn’t force employees to be healthy, but could “Nudge” them into action by showing health can be easy and fun.

It started with a small walking group and newsletter. The walking group met after work, discussed health and earned small prizes for completing healthy challenges. The newsletter introduced employees to the health initiative and had tips for healthy living.

The popularity of wellness at TVH grew. Soon suggestions were coming in, and new programs were started, such as a Biggest Loser style contest. TVH also started providing fresh fruit to all employees on a weekly basis.

The programs expanded quickly, as did the budget, and in 2011 an official health and wellness department was created at TVH. The Nudge department, as it is called by its employees, has grown from 18 wellness offerings in 2011 to over 90 in 2013.

Employees enjoy benefits such as education classes, partial reimbursements for gym memberships and 5K events, health contests and monthly employee appreciation surprises. The surprise may be nutrition-related or an event. At the facility in Olathe, Kansas there is also a social and fitness area, called the Nudge Center.

“The Nudge Center is great,” says 10-year employee Lisa Ayres. “I want to play pool and socialize there instead of going out to smoke, which I used to do.”

According to TVH’s insurer, BlueCross Blue Shield, 15 people have stopped smoking since 2012. The good news doesn’t stop there—since 2011, TVH employees have collectively lost more than 1,900 pounds and have walked or ran more than 1,300 miles in local 5ks.

Executive support is key and Els Thermote, TVH CEO, is one of the drivers of the Nudge Program. Often you will her participating in health offerings such as yoga, boot camp and massage. She also represents TVH in running and swimming events in an annual competition among Kansas City companies. Last year, Els participated in 32 Nudge events — almost one a week! Impressive for a busy, travelling executive. “Your health is the most important thing. I want to help make people aware of the small things you can do that make a difference in your health,” says Els. “By “nudging” them to live a healthier lifestyle. On top of that, it helps teamwork, it improves morale and productivity.”

She’s right. With the implementation of Nudge, there has been a definite change in the corporate culture and the bottom line. Groups of people can now be seen walking around the building for breaks or “walking meetings,” eating fruit instead of junk food and participating in health-related activities.

Morale is high, and employees are happier and friendlier because they know their co-workers better. According to a recent employee survey, the wellness program is a top reason to work for TVH. Comments like “Thank you for Nudge!” “I love all the great programs and try to do them all,” and “Great job!” frequently appear in TVH executives’ emails.

Employee health engagement has also led to steady health care costs, fewer sick days and lower turnover. TVH is now even in the process of implementing an onsite-clinic.

It’s not all about diet and exercise. Wellness at TVH incorporates other aspects of health such as financial well-being. TVH offers Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace classes to employees to teach about budgeting and reduce financial stress.

“That program has changed (improved) our financial situation, our peace of mind and even our marriage,” says Bob Fite, 12-year employee. By following the steps in the program, 6- year employee Brett Beem was able to pay cash for a new air conditioner, furnace and water heater when they unexpectedly broke down at the same time. He’s since rebuilt his emergency fund and says, “While I’m sure there will be another surprise purchase in the future, I know I’m prepared for it, thanks to the principles taught in this program. What a great feeling!”

Another popular program TVH offers to its employees is called Wellness on a Shoestring by Dr. Michelle Robin. This program focuses on health aspects such as sleep quality, meditation, organization of space and improving social ties.

With such diverse offerings in their wellness program, TVH has about 80% of their employees participating in two or more wellness events yearly. The average employee participates in seven wellness events a year.

TVH’s Nudge program is designed to aid and encourage employees to lead healthy productive lives, professionally and personally. So when you look inside TVH, you see strong – including our muscles.

Look for more articles about the Nudge offerings at TVH and tips on starting a healthy culture at your business in the next issue of Material Handling Network.

For more information, contact Bonnie Steer of TVH at

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