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Destressing With Dogs

“The buzz that this single event created demonstrates how ITW’s commitment to employee well-being elevates the colleague experience.” - Toni-Marie Hedge

A dog’s friendly tail wag can wipe the day’s stresses away. That’s the consensus from about 30 colleagues working out of the ITW Automotive sales office in Troy, Michigan, USA, who enjoyed a visit from four canine friends and their handlers from the local chapter of GO TEAM Therapy Dogs in April.

“Most of us are dog lovers,” said ITW StampTech Fasteners Innovation Strategy Manager Steve Colarossi, who helped organize the event. “The simple act of petting a dog can reduce your stress and brighten your day.”  

The visit was hosted in recognition of National Stress Awareness Month. Colarossi, who serves as one of the site’s wellness champions, got the idea after hearing his daughter excitedly discuss the monthly visits from the nonprofit organization’s Detroit chapter to her school.

“Colleagues jokingly requested the dogs visit once a week,” said Colarossi. “It demonstrates the benefits of taking a few minutes out of each day to take a mental break and recharge.”

ITW Human Resources Regional Manager Toni-Marie Hedge wasn’t in town for the visit, but the excitement quickly reached her as word spread through the Automotive segment.

“Almost immediately, I started receiving inquiries from other sites about the organization’s reach and the possibility of organizing a similar event,” Hedge said. “The buzz that this single event created demonstrates how ITW’s commitment to employee well-being elevates the colleague experience.”

Championing Wellness

True to ITW’s decentralized, entrepreneurial culture, wellness initiatives are supported by Wellness Champions within divisions that meet twice a month to brainstorm and plan events. Wellness committees are open to all colleagues to join, and events are hosted during the workday to encourage maximum participation.

“Our unique perspectives and experiences drive everything we do,” said Hedge. “Empowering colleagues to plan local wellness engagements fits within ITW’s innovative mindset and drives greater impact.”

Additional wellness activities across the segment this year have included group walks, team challenges and lunch-and-learn sessions covering topics ranging from breathing exercises to healthy eating.

Colarossi, who has been in his role about 14 months, originally volunteered to serve as a wellness champion as a way to engage with colleagues. The intrinsic reward has been much greater.

“I volunteered to assume a vacant spot on StampTech Fasteners’ wellness committee about six months into my tenure, and I’m so glad I did,” said Colarossi. “Not only did it help me get to know my new teammates better, but it has been great to see everyone take time out of their day to attend the events and share their appreciation for the committee’s efforts.”

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