Fit to Serve

54TxCDC Named Recipient of 2013 Healthiest Employer Award

Texas Certified Development Company has been named a recipient of Austin Business Journal’s 2013 Healthiest Employer Award. The award, which will be presented March 22 in Austin, TX, recognizes Austin-area business or non-profit entities that demonstrate evidence of an employee wellness program.

“We are very excited to receive this honor,” said TxCDC President Suzanna Caballero. “Our team has been proactive in trying to eat well, exercise and take preventative steps to maintain good health.  This recognition reinforces us in continuing these great behaviors and makes us want to continue the good work.”

The 2013 Healthiest Employer Award focused on six key categories – culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communications and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analysis. The categories and scoring were developed with the assistance of the academic, medical, wellness and business communities. Applicants are ranked by size based on the number of employees in the organization so that same-sized organizations compete against each other.

TxCDC’s commitment to wellness began informally through founder Paul Tovar’s belief in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Tovar, who initially worked as a licensed pharmacist and eventually became an entrepreneur who owned a pharmacy, health care facilities, insurance companies and business service companies, has maintained his life-long passion of promoting a healthy lifestyle and his vision of creating a community that is healthier in mind, body and spirit.

“As Chairman of the Board of Directors of Texas Certified Development Company starting in the 1980s, I wanted to make sure that the staff of TxCDC stayed healthy and well, just like the patients in my other businesses,” Tovar said.

Since founding TxCDC in 1981, Tovar has made sure the entire staff has had full medical insurance coverage, encouragement to participate in weight loss challenges and access to healthy snack foods (fruit, vegetables and nuts) in the company’s kitchen. This commitment to wellness has expanded and become an integral part of the organization’s culture.

TxCDC staff members are encouraged to regularly support each other’s healthy behaviors, share nutritious recipes and talk about the physical activities that they do regularly, such as hiking, dancing and cycling. The employees — 70 percent of whom are Hispanic — also participate as volunteers at the annual Primero Health Fair, which encourages healthy behaviors in the Latino/Hispanic population through providing screening, training and preventative education on chronic conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) that are known to emerge in this group of people. TxCDC also provides financial support for this health fair.

During the past few years, the company’s leaders have worked to make wellness opportunities even more accessible for the staff. For instance, TxCDC continues its long-time partnership with a nearby church to offer aerobic classes at the church. Approximately 20 percent of TxCDC staff members participate in these classes.

While pleased that some staff members continue to participate, Caballero wanted to identify additional ways for more staff members to be physically active during the workday, especially since many employees work in jobs that require a significant amount of time spent sitting and doing computer work. To reach this goal, she was able to identify the necessary office space, contract with an instructor and provide early release time of one-half hour in order to offer a weekly in-house yoga class that started in 2012. The class boasts 100-percent staff participation. Furthermore, TxCDC employees report that they have seen numerous benefits from participating in the yoga class, including better balance, flexibility and posture as well as stress relief management.

TxCDC also has become more proactive in promoting wellness. As of 2012, the company started paying for employee vision and dental insurance. In addition, employees are given time off in order to get a flu shot. Lastly, Caballero has set a goal of creating ergonomically-correct work areas for each individual employee during 2013.

“These steps are in line with Mr. Tovar’s founding vision,” Caballero said. “We want to actively promote wellness within the organization while encouraging a healthy lifestyle for our East Austin neighbors.”

By Dorian Martin