SANTA ROSA – Agilent Technologies’ Electronic Measurement Group headquarters on Fountaingrove Parkway is a global showcase for employee well-being. During the last few years the company has poured $50 million into plant upgrades with workers’ health a primary focus.

Not that the worldwide electronics giant had neglected employee health prior to the makeover, but the company took full advantage of recent studies showing what constitutes the best possible workplace for healthy, productive staff. Now Agilent’s 750,000-square-foot, three-building work site is flooded with natural light and views of the surrounding hillsides.

[caption id="attachment_44777" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Agilent employees show their stamina at one of the company’s frequent health fairs"][/caption]

“But we’ve gone way beyond static, structural improvements,” said EMG President Ron Nersesian, who was recently promoted to be Agilent's chief operating officer. “Health and fitness is basic to our value system. Just as we reward productivity and innovation with bonuses, we encourage employees to enjoy the rewards of improving their overall


Agilent employees have unlimited access to a full gym, wellness studio, athletic fields, basketball court and walking trail with exercise stations, he said.

They can use the wellness studio for yoga, Zumba (dance workout), meditation or Tai Chi, with or without instruction.

Employees can use self-care stations to check blood pressure and pulse. Healthy foods are available both in the cafeteria and vending machines and a dozen free fitness classes are offered weekly. Health fairs are frequently held onsite.

“It’s paid off,” said Agilent spokesman Jeff Weber. “For example, one of our engineers lost 50 pounds by attending all of the fitness classes plus a weight loss program. And an older manufacturing worker who never exercised is finally taking a first step toward wellness by having a private session with a personal fitness instructor.”

All the wellness services are coordinated by full-time certified fitness professionals who also coordinate the company’s ergonomics program. Agilent spends more than $50,000 a year on employee health and fitness, with at least 75 percent of its 1,100 workers participating in the programs.

“Best of all, these services are absolutely free to EMG employees,” said Mr. Nersesian, who chooses walking to keep fit himself, “either on our walking trail or just around the campus.”

An atmosphere of health and fitness encourages plenty of additional spontaneous outside activity, he said. Groups of employees go bike riding together during breaks or after work, and engineers working off the stress of a long work session often get up a game of ultimate Frisbee on one of the ball fields.

Exercise has been shown to release stress and promote feelings of well-being, he said, and he points to recent employee survey results to prove it.

“A few years ago it wasn’t the case, but now 91 percent of our employees, under no pressure to say so, say Agilent is a wonderful place to work,” said Mr. Nersesian.