Fit Companies: Spotlight on South Shore Hospital

South Shore Hospital offers employees a free, year-round wellness program.

In a fit city like Boston, it’s no surprise that businesses offer wellness programs that include far more than a discounted gym membership. In this series, we’ll profile Boston-area companies that go above and beyond to keep employees healthy.

Wellness plan

South Shore Hospital’s wellness roadmap. Graphic provided to

Name: South Shore Hospital

Location: Weymouth

Number of employees: 4,200

How South Shore Hospital stays well: It uses a varied, year-round program of events open to all employees.

At South Shore Hospital, New Year’s resolutions just don’t cut it.

The hospital’s human resources department recognized that many employee’s fitness motivation fizzles in the January cold. That’s why the hospital implemented an innovative approach to wellness a few years ago: a seasonally-divided “roadmap” to wellness (above) that makes it easy for employees to follow a health and fitness program all year long.

“How many people make New Year’s resolutions and then fall off and so forth? You might have had an early-stage commitment and then it waned, so you have an ability to reconnect with a new season,” explains Vice President of Human Resources Bob Wheeler. “We also called it a ‘roadmap to wellness’ because it’s really not just one thing that’s going to help foster good health, there are a lot of different elements.”

The roadmap accounts for different seasonal needs, such as “stress-free holiday workshops” in the winter and “hydration and exercise workshops” in the summer. Other programming includes on-site yoga, one-on-one health counseling, emotional and stress eating workshops, mediation and self-awareness programs, routine health and biometric screenings for all new employees, and a program called “Knee Up” that’s targeted toward making new exercisers feel comfortable at the gym. Best of all, these options are available to all employees free of charge.

Wheeler says that the hallmark of the program is its ability to appeal to and serve all of the hospital’s employees, regardless of their varied health backgrounds and needs. The goal, he says, is to form a foundation for life-long wellness. “We’re not going to turn all of our colleagues into 10K roadrunners or half marathoners; our approach is we really want people to be the healthiest and best that they can be and want to be,” Wheeler says. “We try to take a very well-rounded approach, and one that’s really not gimmicky.”

The roadmap can do that, he says, because it was developed in-house with help from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, as opposed to subcontracting the program out to another company. “We created it, we own it,” Wheeler stresses. “There’s this very entrepreneurial nature to what we started. I think it’s unique to us and it works for us.”

Part of the reason the program fits so well into South Shore Hospital’s DNA is, of course, because of the company’s roots in healthcare, Wheeler explains. “As an organization, being a hospital, in terms of promoting good health for people in our immediate region, it makes sense to have a really defined program for our employees as well,” he says. “Fundamentally, it’s the right thing to do.”