Kitchell ranked among the Valley’s Healthiest Employers!

For the second consecutive year, Kitchell was ranked the #2 Healthiest Employer in the Phoenix Business Journal‘s annual rankings in the midsize category. Below is the article about Kitchell’s program, originally featured in the Business Journal.

What it does: Kitchell is a holding entity of several companies that are part of Kitchell’s core commercial building business. Services provided within these businesses include general contracting, construction management, real estate development, program management, engineering and architecture and facilities management.

Local leader: Jim Swanson, president and CEO

Who leads health and wellness initiatives: Kitchell human resources team in collaboration with a cross-company wellness committee.

Year company was founded: 1950

Number of employees: 786

Why did your company decide to start a health and wellness program? Our health and wellness program began as an effort to take care of our employee owners. Believe it or not, our wellness program’s humble beginnings were a walking club that spanned all our offices and locations, tracking the number of steps achieved in an “Around the World with Kitchell” feature, supplemented by fruit baskets at job sites. Today it has evolved into a sophisticated, proactive effort that encourages our people to make healthy choices, be active and get preventive care by incentivizing them through cash rewards.

Why is health and wellness important to your company and how do you encourage participation? Health and wellness is important to Kitchell because it ensures the overall well-being of our employees. As a self-insured (and employee-owned) company, it is in our interest to keep our people happy, healthy and productive, and being proactive with wellness is a sure way to maintain a healthy workforce. We encourage participation by providing on-site health screenings, in-person and virtual health events, webinars, individual and group challenges.

What has been your company’s most successful program, and explain briefly what it involves? Kitchell’s health and wellness program provides a generous HSA contribution, which motivates our employee-owners to stay well. We learned a long time ago that money is a big motivator, and we offer up to $2,000 wellness dollars to our insured employees. This is more than enough to cover the employee’s portion of the annual premium for a single insured, so they have a net benefit in health savings dollars. Those who are not covered by Kitchell’s insurance are also encouraged to participate in our wellness plan and can earn swag — not to mention kudos from their colleagues — for their involvement. In 2022 we had 253 employees who maximized all their wellness dollars compared to 214 the prior year, representing a 16% year-over-year improvement. Approximately 67% of our employee owners participated in some wellness activity in 2022, which is an enormous success considering the transient nature of our workforce—many of our people are remote and travel to various job sites throughout the week.

What’s your top tip for other employers as to how they can support their employees in eating healthier and leading a healthier lifestyle? Our wellness program keeps us competitive, and the ROI speaks for itself. Our employees are healthier, our claims are lower and the cost of our self-insured plan is manageable. The wellness platform allows us to gain insight into how our employees behave and what health and wellness initiatives employees like most.

How has your health and wellness program impacted your company’s productivity overall? Productivity as a direct result of our wellness program is difficult to measure, but our employees are generally in good health and our claims continue to trend downward. The wellness program has stimulated the overall well-being of our employees, which ultimately feeds into their performance, retention and our ability to attract talent. 

An avian sign of good luck

Native lands are believed to reinforce the fundamental inter-connectedness of all natural things, so witnessing a majestic bald eagle born on the behavioral health project we are building for the Salt-River Pima Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) was especially meaningful. As one of the most respected birds in North America, the bald eagle signifies good fortune, courage and growth.

As the Au’ Authum Ki/Kitchell team prepared to break ground on the 51,000-square-foot Behavioral Health Journey to Recovery project in January, we were notified that an existing hawk’s nest just 300 feet from our project site was commandeered by bald eagles when their original nest, a few miles away, was blown over in a storm. In accordance with SRPMIC requirements through the Community Development Department Environmental Protection Natural Resources Division (CDD/EPNR), we were required to postpone our mobilization until the biologist could determine if any of the “fledglings” had hatched/survived. One “fledgling” was declared healthy, resulting in a 10-week delay before we could mobilize on site.

Our team was then invited to take part in the banding of the young bird on March 16, which included an environmentalist scaling the tree to secure it, then lowering it down in a bird stretcher so they could record all vital signs. The baby bald eagle weighed 8 lbs. and was 5 ½ weeks old. An identifying band was placed around its legs before raising it back into the nest. This beautiful bird will be leaving the nest at the 10-week mark and will head north to Montana/Canada. The environmentalist estimates it will return to the area in four to five years to breed.

The patients who receive care at this facility are fortunate to have a watchful attendant for years to come!