Well-Being a Core Tenant of the Saunders Workplace

By Brad Marsh, vice president of Safety and Human Resources, Saunders Construction, Inc.

Brad Marsh

With a tight construction labor force and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, never has it been more important for Colorado employers to find creative ways to attract and retain employees. Saunders Construction, Inc., a leading commercial contractor in Colorado has made well-being a core tenant of its business, incorporating it into everything they do — whether its creating healthy opportunities for employees, or incorporating unique wellness features into their myriad of construction projects. In 2019, Saunders hosted 28 well-being events for employees to participate in, from brain health lectures, cooking demonstrations to physical fitness events. The company was also ranked No.22 healthiest employer in the Denver area by the Denver Business Journal. This is in large part thanks to the program Saunders rolled out in 2018, known as Saunders Well-Being, to support employees’ overall health through a broad assortment of wellness offerings.

Providing employees an outlet for fitness was just a start — a benefit that the company began offering in 2000, including sponsored marathons and basketball tournaments to obstacle courses and mountain bike races. The original idea was to get employees together to sweat out the stress. But as time went on, it became apparent, that physical activity was only a fraction of the equation in employee wellness. Saunders recognized the need for mental health, giving back to the community, and cultivating creative training/educational opportunities for their employees were also critical to overall wellness, and thus, adapted the original fitness concept into a new program that approaches living well in a holistic manner. The goal is to support employees’ overall health and happiness through a broad assortment of wellness offerings, as well as its continued support of fitness events.

Originally developed by Nest Health Connections, Saunders Well-Being offerings are available for all employees and are hosted both in the field and office. In 2020, Saunders Well-Being will launch the Wellness in Construction program, which is geared
specifically towards their teams out in the field. The team will visit two project sites per month to discuss a variety of topics over the course of the year. There will be monthly challenges that directly correspond to that month’s topic, complete with prizes for the winners. The program will also include peer-led training opportunities such as how to train for a marathon, boosting your confidence, and bicycle safety and handling skills.

In addition, to employee’s health and wellness, Saunders began emphasizing and encouraging wellness in its building design and construction. Saunders is a regional leader in sustainable construction and has completed dozens of projects that have achieved LEED Certification – and LEED Platinum, the highest level in certification program of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The Colorado Health Foundation, was one such project– completed in late 2016, as the first project in the U.S. to achieve IWBI’s WELL Building Standard TM at the Gold level and Version 4 Gold certification. The three-story, 32,500-square-foot building features “health-positive” design and development standards that aim to improve the health of both staff and visitors who interact with the building space, including:

  • Direct access to outdoor areas via rooftop decks and gardens
  • Natural ventilation of daylight
  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI) that is 65 percent less than a baseline office building
  • Design approaches (daylighting, massing and operable windows) with an efficient HVAC system
  • LED lighting and Energy Star appliances
  • Preparation for future installation of solar panels
  • Integration of biophilia

Additionally, Saunders took their commitment to this cause one step further, creating a challenge for their construction field crews to “Walk Around the World.” Each crew-member was given a pedometer to keep track of their progress and to date the team has already taken 35 million steps to combat the health problems that often plague the construction industry.

Each year, Saunders publishes its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report and recently published its ninth consecutive report, which stands as a testament to Saunders’ continued investment in aligning its economic, environmental and social goals, reaffirming the organization’s commitment to the betterment of standards within the industry and the footprint they leave behind. Thanks to its comprehensive approach to CSR and industry-best B Corp Score, Saunders was recognized as a “Best for Colorado” company in 2018. Best for Colorado honors companies that strive to create higher quality jobs, build stronger communities and preserve a healthier environment. Of the 16 Colorado companies to receive this honor, Saunders was the only company in the construction management/general contractor industry to be recognized in 2018.

Photos courtesy of Saunders

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