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Mind Your Health: 'Workplace wellness' (Part 3)

Fellowship Story Showcase

Mind Your Health: 'Workplace wellness' (Part 3)

Picture of Neda Iranpour

Neda Iranpour wrote and produced this "Mind Your Health" series as part of her participation in the 2015 California Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism.

Other stories in the series include:

Mind Your Health: Military and mindfulness (Part 1)

Mind Your Health: Mindful medicine (Part 2)

San Diego 6
Friday, September 18, 2015

In the third installment of the San Diego 6 News Exclusive series “Mind Your Health,” we look into a place many of us spend a lot of our time: at work. Neda Iranpour profiles Dr. Bronner’s, a socially-conscious soap-maker based in Vista to find out why offering free wellness and health care to their employees pays off.

Soapmaking started in the Bronner family in 1858. Dr. Emanuel Bronner, who was a Jew, emigrated to the U.S. in 1929 to escape the holocaust. He would try to get groups to gather to hear his message of "all one." His grandson and company President, Mike Bronner said, “It was about trying to get as many people to understand that we need to basically unite or we could have another holocaust.” Dr. Bronner would thank his listeners by giving them his homemade soap. The soap was so good people would show up for his freebies and leave. Until Dr. Bronner decided it was time to use his soap, as his soapbox. He put all of the words he wanted to share onto the labels of his many different soaps.

Dr. Bronner’s is now the #1 seller of 100% certified organic soaps, focused on fair trade and charities. They grew from 15 workers in 2000 to about 150 employees in 2015, working out of 2 warehouses in Vista.

Any of their employees can shift from soapmaking to shoulder stretches, meditation, or any other yoga moves at their on-site yoga studio where Dr. Bronners' employees volunteer as guides.

A yoga studio is one of many offerings of wellness in the workplace. Dr. Bronner’s also offers free surf lessons Friday afternoons and an annual health fair and biometrics testing. “What really drives up health claims is when you don’t see a doctor, you don’t see a doctor, you don’t see a doctor then you get sick,” explained Mike. That’s why they also cover 100% of their employees’ health care costs - unheard of among most businesses. But Mike explained, if workers don’t have to pay for prescriptions or copays, they'll visit their doctor more often.

The trend of workplace wellness is sweeping the nation. San Diego-based Qualcomm also offers yoga and meditation for its employees. And at Petco, wellness plays a big role in the design of their brand new San Diego facility.

[This story was originally published by San Diego 6.]