Poet Bioenergy focuses on employee wellness

By Ann Bailey | October 26, 2015

Renewable fuel is not the only kind of energy that Poet emphasizes at its plants.

The giant bioenergy corporation has a company-wide wellness program and is installing fitness equipment at its plants. Poet has more than 3,000 employees at 28 plants in several states across the Midwest.

“It started off here in our corporate center,” said Brandan Fokken, Poet Bioenergy wellness coordinator The corporate office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has a state-of-the-art  fitness center and Poet Bioenergy officials wanted employees at its plants also to have ready access to fitness equipment, Fokken said.

About a year ago, Poet Bioenergy’s wellness team began talking to plant general managers about their employees’ fitness needs and how to meet those needs, using the space available at their plants, Fokken said. Based on the general managers’ responses, Bioenergy designed three different exercise room layout plans and purchased fitness equipment.

Some of the plants are using existing space, and those that don’t are adding on to their office spaces.  The plants’ fitness centers have similar equipment, including exercise mats, elliptical and tread mills.  

“We wanted to make the centers as nice and as uniform as possible,” Fokken said.

 Poet Bioenergy employee response to the fitness centers has been positive, he said.

“I was just out at a plant recently and the people there were excited.”

Besides installing the wellness equipment, Poet also offers its employees health screenings, issues wellness challenges and provides nutrition information.

“When someone is healthy and happy and fit and feels good, that affects their day-to-day life,” Fokken said. The positive effects are felt not just by the employee’s team members, but also by their family members, he said.

Other companies are taking notice of Poet’s wellness program, Fokken said.

“We’ve seen a lot of companies essentially follow us.”