Petaluma’s Solairus Aviation wins Healthiest Companies in the North Bay award
PETALUMA — Solairus Aviation formed a wellness committee two years ago focusing on providing a healthy workplace for its 350 full-time employees and 500 contract staff members at the firm’s Petaluma headquarters, as well as those located at offices in New York, Denver and at 50 aircraft hangar sites across the nation. One of every six employees participates in the firm’s wellness program.
“From the company’s inception in 2009, our founder, CEO and chairman, Dan Drohan, has been passionate about wellness in the workplace,” said Human Resources Director Sarah Ferris. “He sent a memo to staff encouraging everyone to refrain from bringing donuts and cookies to the office. Sodas and chips were also replaced with healthy snacks and beverages in vending machines. Fresh fruit is brought in twice a week.”
Other initiatives at this full service air charter fleet and aircraft management firm include sponsoring a Top Chef Challenge with employees making healthy dishes and competing for top honors, such as a family portrait package as first prize, and $100 in cash for second place.
Guest speakers at annual company conferences focus on topics such as eating better and stress management techniques. Nutritious recipes are sent to all through the computer network, and an online survey assesses staff members’ engagement in the wellness program by asking them five questions a week and tabulating results, such as “Did you have a healthy breakfast today?”
Physical challenges have also been introduced. Employees are eager to wear pedometers at work to see who can log the most steps — with a gift certificate rewarded to the winners. In future, Fitbit trackers may also be added.
“In the demanding aviation business, everyone cannot leave their desks for a fitness break, including those in our dispatch department working 10- to 12-hour shifts. Adjustable standup desks have been installed to give these workers an opportunity to flex muscles and practice in-place aerobics without moving from their workspace.”
With just two HR specialists stationed at headquarters, Solairus workers throughout the U.S. have the liberty to plan their own local wellness activities. Additional health-related projects on the drawing board include weekend hikes, Kaiser biometric screening and onsite flu vaccinations. Small employee groups also take the initiative to organize affinity clubs for cycling and other activities.
Gary Quackenbush (email@example.com, 707-322-1882) is a contributing writer.