How Portland General Electric empowers employees to be healthy

The utility’s Energy for Life program, which includes monthly events, weekly farmer’s markets in the summer, employee team exercise and health screenings, has changed its culture.

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Portland General Electric provides power to nearly 825,000 customers, but electrical energy is not the only kind the company aims to create. For nearly a decade, PGE has also made big efforts to make its 2,750 employees more energetic and healthy with its Energy for Life program.

“Any company that has employees working for them is a health company,” says Sandi Graf, occupational health specialist with Portland General Electric. “By keeping our employees healthy, we keep them productive, and we keep our health care costs down. Wellness definitely pays.”

Since its inception, the program has had a huge impact on PGE’s corporate culture—from what’s in its snack machines to how employees interact with one another.

Starting with screenings

Though the utility has “always dabbled” in helping employees lead healthier lives, it really picked up in 2003, when Graf and others began noticing more and more articles about people becoming less healthy. In one, she says, was a projection that one in three people would have type 2 diabetes by 2050.

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