To keep its wellness program fresh, CooperVision changed things up this year with its 5-2-1-0 Challenge.
“Our employees are happier and healthier, and wellness is … becoming a thread through every part of our business,” says Brian Quinn, the soft contact lens company’s fitness trainer.
CooperVision, which has corporate offices in Fairport, a plant in Scottsville and a distribution center in Henrietta, employs about 1,100 people, some of whom work evening and night shifts. Quinn co-leads the company’s 50-person wellness team.
The 5-2-1-0 Challenge is patterned after the Greater Rochester Health Foundation’s Be a Healthy Hero Initiative. Each day, participants aim to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, spend no more than two hours before a television or computer screen, exercise for at least one hour and drink no sugar-sweetened beverages.
CooperVision typically conducts such programs over four to six weeks, Quinn says. This time around, it spanned the year.
Starting in January, Quinn made monthly visits to CooperVision facilities during lunch hours, coming day or night as needed. Participants weighed in and Quinn took body fat measurements, sharing tips on how to reach the program’s four goals. He also brought fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods that employees could try.
“We decided to go for a yearlong challenge to either maintain your body weight or lose body weight and be educated about your body fat,” Quinn explains. “The goal of this was to see if we could get people to make habits over the year, instead of just during a four-week time period.”
The program caught on. Of the 405 people who signed up, 72 percent completed it, losing nearly 6 percent of body fat on average and 4,000 total pounds. What’s more, participants are keeping the weight off, Quinn says.
CooperVision kicked off a second 5-2-1-0 Challenge this year.
While encouraging its employees to become healthier, CooperVision provides free annual biometric screenings that cover blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other important measures of good health. When screenings found that some on its roster had higher blood pressure than normal, the company surveyed its workforce to determine what might be wrong.
“They complained of stress,” Quinn says. “They wanted someone to help them deal with stress.”
To attack the problem, he gave a series of talks on stress management that employees could attend without pay.
“It got really rave reviews,” Quinn says.
CooperVision has other means to help its employees stay healthy: a quarter-mile track outside its plant, a gym, at-work stretching exercises and an annual health and wellness fair. Seventy percent of employees used the gym in 2013.
Efforts to improve employee health also appear to be helping the bottom line. The number of health insurance claims made by employees decreased 18.8 percent in 2013, Quinn says—prompting an insurance rebate of $1.03 million.
ESL Federal Credit Union
The ESL Federal Credit Union continues to use innovative ways to help its employees stay healthy—and to trim health care costs.
“The mission of our wellness program is to help improve our employees’ overall health through an emphasis on healthy habits and wellness, including exercise, nutrition and education,” says total rewards manager Lisa McLaughlin, who heads ESL’s 22-member wellness team.
Based downtown, ESL has about 670 people on its payroll. Be Well @ ESL, the firm’s wellness program, has earned Wealth of Health awards for three years running and took home Best in Show in 2012. In that year alone, the credit union mapped out walking routes through Rochester neighborhoods, encouraging employees to use them on their lunch hours, and gave employees use of a local YMCA for an evening of exercise classes, swimming, wall climbing and other activities.
For the fourth year in a row, the financial institution is involved in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Step Up program. So far this year, 270 employees have participated.
“You form a team, and the goal is to walk 10,000 steps … and eat five servings of fruit or vegetables in a day,” McLaughlin says.
ESL also has a fully equipped on-site fitness center for employees who want to work up a sweat.
Diet is another facet of ESL’s wellness program. Those at the 2013 Soup, Stew and Chili Fest offered their own healthy homemade dishes and paid a small amount to sample others. The event raised $1,250, including a donation from the company, that went to the non-profit Center for Youth. Employees can also buy shares in a local farm cooperative at reduced rates. Deliveries of fresh produce come right to company sites throughout the summer.
ESL makes it easier for employees to monitor their physical condition. For the second year in a row, the company is participating in the Rochester/Finger Lakes Community Blood Pressure Challenge.
“What they’re really trying to do is have people be more aware of what their blood pressures are,” McLaughlin explains. “That can prevent a lot of issues in the long run.”
ESL provides an incentive for each blood pressure check at work: a $5 Wegmans gift card.
Staffers who want to learn more have access to free biometric screenings that include a comprehensive blood test and a health risk assessment. Though the company rewards people who are screened with gym bags and other gifts, they can go on to earn monetary rewards by engaging in healthy behaviors in the following year.
Here’s how it works. Under ESL’s medical plans, each time those who have been screened exercise, maintain a proper diet or engage in other healthy behavior, they earn points for which they are reimbursed by the company’s health insurer. At the end of a year, individuals can take home $500 and couples can get $1,000.
Disincentives also are in effect. Those who are not screened incur a 5 percent increase in their portion of the health insurance premiums.
McLaughlin says its wellness program has helped her company keep its health insurance costs down in 2014.
“We’ve had a zero percent increase, which is not normally heard of,” she says.
SMP hasn’t rested since winning a 2013 Wealth of Health Award.
“We offered a lot more services,” says Nikki Reynolds, health, wellness and fitness coordinator.
SMP, an information technology firm whose full name is Systems Management Planning Inc., employs 65 people at its offices in Henrietta. Last year, the wellness program expanded from the ground up—literally.
After the firm moved to its John Street location in April 2013, Reynolds planted a garden on the site. Employees took home fresh vegetables and herbs all summer.
“Right now we have lettuce, arugula and spinach starting. Once we have the produce, we share it with the employees here but also do healthy cooking sessions,” says Reynolds, who has a master’s degree in health promotion management and a graduate certificate in nutrition education.
In addition to cooking lessons, Reynolds provides seminars and lunch-and-learn sessions on topics like local food sources, genetically modified foods and heart health.
SMP’s gymnasium is equipped with dumbbells, free weights, stationary bikes and other equipment, Reynolds says. Yoga, kickboxing, stretching and relaxation, and other exercise classes are held at the gym before and after work and during the lunch hour.
Employees who want to get outside during the day can walk or run on three paths that SMP has mapped out on the sidewalks outside its building.
“It’s broken down by options for folks to do one mile, one and a half miles and a little over three miles,” Reynolds says.
SMP sponsored the 2013 Wegmans East Avenue Grocery Run, which was organized to help reduce hunger in the Rochester region, and last October’s third annual Breast Cancer Ride and Run.
“We expanded our community service activities,” Reynolds explains.
SMP helped fund the events while employees teamed up and ran the races. SMP teams also planned to participate in the J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge at the end of May and in the Tour de Cure, an American Diabetes Association fundraiser slated for June.
With company encouragement, a group of SMP employees also volunteered for Foodlink’s BackPack Program in 2013, which provides food for students who might go hungry without it.
“It was to help kids who were very food-insecure on the weekend,” Reynolds explains. “What we did was sort food donations and put them in these bags that would be distributed to students in local schools.”
SMP’s efforts appear to have caught on with its employees. Of 34 who responded to a survey at the end of 2013—more than half of its staff—71 percent rated its wellness program as excellent. Reynolds says a new employee called it “a very good program and part of the reason I chose to join SMP.”
People who work at Thompson Health dropped excess weight, boosted their exercise regimens and cut their medical insurance costs in 2013.
Thompson Health, an affiliate of the University of Rochester Medical Center, oversees five affiliate health care organizations in Ontario and Livingston counties, including F.F. Thompson Hospital. About 1,400 employees, called associates, work for the Canandaigua-based organization at its main facilities and 15 other locations.
Thompson’s wellness program was a Wealth of Health honoree in 2009 and 2011. The nutrition and exercise programs it developed continue to evolve to meet the needs of employees.
The Traffic Light Eating program, launched last spring, guides associates away from unhealthy food choices at work.
“We have really tried to focus on improving the access to healthy food options for our associates and providing additional information so that people can have the right information to make good food decisions,” says Randy Jacque, Thompson’s director of health. He heads a 17-member wellness committee.
Traffic Light Eating groups the foods in Thompson’s cafeteria into three color-coded categories—green, yellow and red. Each represents a different set of nutritional benefits and risks. The program encourages lower consumption of red-labeled foods, such as steak, in favor of others, especially foods marked green, such as romaine lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. Associates are eating more of the healthy options, Jacque says.
Thompson presents employees with healthy options for dealing with workday stress. An initiative called Self-Care helps associates manage tension with poster reminders to stretch, take a deep breath and the like. Each employee selects a self-care tip to follow routinely at work.
Those interested in blowing off steam more energetically had several options in 2013. Just over 400 associates participated in Step Up, aiming to walk 10,000 steps and consume at least five cups of fruit and vegetables each day. Associates looking to exercise in other ways could sign up for the Thompson in Motion club.
“They get updated information on all the available walking and running and biking activities that are happening in the community,” Jacque explains.
To help employees keep an eye on the numbers, Thompson offers free biometric screenings during its annual Healthy Me health fairs. The organization also is part of the Rochester/Finger Lakes Community Blood Pressure Challenge. Thirty-six percent of Thompson’s workforce had blood pressure checks during the competition.
Thompson held a softball tournament in July and a day of outdoor winter activities at Cumming Nature Center in Naples.
Good health presents its own benefits, but associates who maintain or improve their health earned reimbursements through the Healthy Rewards program by Excellus. In 2013, 619 associates were paid a total of $200,913.
Thompson’s health promotion program aims for an even wider effect. For example, participation nearly tripled in on-site fitness classes from 2012 to 2013. Between 2009 and 2013, the portion of associates who exercise at least three times a week rose to 63 percent from 48 percent.
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