Allan McLeland, vice president of human resources at Sonoco, takes associates’ health – and his own – very seriously. He started his career with Sonoco 25 years ago and is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina. As the Chief Human Resources Officer, Allan oversees the entire HR function for Sonoco including all global areas like Organizational Development, Talent Acquisition, Division HR, Compensation & Benefits, etc.

World Health Day was Saturday, April 7, and we wanted to take a few minutes to share Allan’s perspective on the successes of many of the Corporate Wellness initiatives Sonoco has developed over the years and why his personal passion for health and wellness helps maintain his high expectations for the well-being of the Sonoco family.

Allan McLeland has always had an interest in wellness and being the best he can be. Serving in the Army National Guard, including Operation Desert Storm, he has traveled the world always with an eye on his personal fitness goals. An outdoor distance enthusiast and adventurer, Allan competes in triathlons of all distances, enjoys white water kayaking, open water distance swimming, and his most recent feat, alpine mountain climbing.

“Wellness involves both the physical and mental,” he says. He encourages employees to set goals and celebrate small victories, whether it’s walking that first mile, focusing on mental health or making small improvements to diet.

With Sonoco’s focus on safety, physical and mental fitness is vital. And, that includes activities at work and at home. Sonoco focuses on total safety, whether while doing a job in a facility, driving home or caring for family.

“Wellness is completely linked with safety. Being well is the absence of injury and illness,” he says. “It’s about reaching our full potential and capability both on the job and in our personal lives.”

Sonoco’s journey on wellness has included initiatives like Safe Kids car seat checks, the development of an indoor walking trail at the corporate office, the “Maintain Don’t Gain” holiday challenge and Know Your Numbers, a biometric screening test for U.S. associates. The program includes a credit on health insurance and wellness counseling for those who need to make improvement. Over the last two years, Sonoco has seen a 24% decrease in emergency room visits, a 58% decrease in hospital admissions and a 32% decrease in claims paid for those associates participating in an approved health care coaching program. These improvements could not be achieved without a laser focus on helping Sonoco associates achieve optimal health improvements.

“Wellness is about quality of life for our associates and their families,” Allan says. “We believe these most recent statistics are a direct result of our increased focus on wellness in our plants and offices.”

Most Sonoco facilities have access to wellness champions, trained associates who are responsible for communicating new benefits, helping associates meet maximum health potential and conducting wellness activities in individual locations.

Allan’s hope is that the Sonoco family’s wellness journey continues in an upward direction for all associates. He “walks the walk” and hopes others can find inspiration in their own lives to be the best they can be, both physically and mentally.


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