Você está na página 1de 6

Workplace Wellness

Jan Collins

y\lhy more and more U.S. companies are deciding that the workplace is an ideal
setting to address health and wellness issues.

•here's no question that Fact: Stress, whether generated dent Insurance Company in Colum-
workplace wellness is at home or at work, can be a killer. bia, South Carolina, "have lower lev-
I ^worth it. The only question What are U.S. companies doing els of stress; increased well-being,
is whether you're going to do it today about these interrelated issues? self-image and self-esteem;
or tomorrow. If you keep say- improved physical fit-
ing you're going to do it ness; better stamina;
tomorrow, you'll never do it. and potential weight
You have to get on it today.'" reduction."^
And, university
-Warren Buffett studies show that for
Chairman, Berkshire Hath- every $1 spent on
away wellness programs,
employers can expect
Fact: It costs U.S. employ- an average return of
ers billions of dollars annually about $3 — the result
to provide their workers with of less worker absen-
health insurance, and the cost teeism and fewer
will continue to increase — by workers' compensa-
an estimated 12 to 14 percent tion and health care
each year. A variety of workout machines are available for Colonial Life's 1,000 claims.
Fact: Expenses associated employees. Because the major-
with medical claims, disability, lost More and more are turning to corpo- ity of Americans "spend most of their
productivity, and unscheduled rate wellness programs. Today, more waking hours at work," says Mont-
absences cost U.S. employers at than 81 percent of U.S. businesses gomery, "the worksite provides an
least $13 billion a year.-' with 50 or more employees have ideal setting to address health and
Fact: The "desk-bound office some form of health promotion pro- well-being."^
lifestyle" can lead to obesity, heart gram, although their breadth and for-
disease, diabetes, and other health mats vary widely.' History
problems.' Healthy employees, says Don Employee wellness programs had
Fact: Obesity is fast becoming Montgomery, assistant vice presi- their genesis in the executive fitness
the biggest health problem in Ameri- dent and director of human programs begun in the 1970s to
ca. resources for Colonial Life and Acci- keep top management teams fit. As
Jan Collins is Editor of the Bus/ness &
Economic Review.

Business & Economic Review I October-December 2004 3


the health and cost benefits of exec- ness classes that feature cardio step
utive fitness programs became clear, aerobics, kickboxing, strength train- "University studies show
health promotion programs "expand- ing, cycling, body sculpting, and
ed beyond top managers to the yoga. Another popular offering is a that for every $1 spent on
entire workforce, and beyond fitness 15-minute seated-chair massage wellness programs,
to wellness."' that can be scheduled during the employers can expect an
In the 1980s, interventions to treat workday. In addition, the company
"sick" employees became interven- offers flu shots for employees and average return of about
tions to prevent disease, while in the their families, mammograms, health $3. . .".
1990s, worksite health promotion screenings for prostate cancer, blood
programs expanded across the pressure checks, and
country at a fast pace." The Year cholesterol/lipid screenings — all Colonial is always looking for
2000 National Health Objectives for given on-site at little or no cost. ways to pump up their employees'
the Nation integrated "worksite- Colonial also pays a portion of the interest in fitness, and in 2003, it hit
based health promotion programs fee for employees who enroll in upon the Army Fitness Challenge,
into the list of targeted objectives for Weight Watchers classes, which are where employees volunteered to
improving the nation's health."^ offered on-site. undergo a series of tough fitness
That's not all. Health Promotion tests — the same ones given to the
Colonial Life's Program Coordinator Jada L. Hubbard and U.S. Army's active-duty personnel.
In the early 1980s, Gale Averyt, her colleagues offer one-on-one fit- The Challenge involved a two-mile
then chairman of the board and pres- ness consultations and evaluations run or a 2.5 mile walk, plus two min-
ident of Colonial Life and Accident for fitness facility members, who utes of both sit-ups and push-ups.
Insurance Company and himself a must pay $16 a month to use the Hundreds of employees were on
fitness buff, decided to imple- hand to cheer on the
ment a wide-ranging wellness Army Fitness Chal-
program at his firm. At that lenge participants,
time, it was a new idea; in and all who participat-
fact, Averyt and Don Mont- ed received prizes. "It
gomery had to trek all the way was so much fun,"
to Colorado to find a corpo- says Montgomery.
rate fitness program they "But it had a real pur-
could model, pose to it." The event
Averyt, who is now retired, was such a success
was "light-years ahead [of that it was repeated in
most executives] in terms of 2004, and Mont-
how to integrate a wellness gomery and Hubbard
program into the company," expect it will become
says Montgomery. "He had an annual thing.
this vision of a better quality Aerobics classes are held on these gleaming wood floors in a A number of Colo-
of life for his employees. He workout room at Colonial Life's Columbia facility. nial employees, both
also believed that in tough male and female, are
times, a wellness program would facility. (Nearly 50 percent of the also members of the company's
help us save money [because our company's 1,000 employees are track team, a spin-off of the compa-
employees would be healthier]. And members.) The fitness programs ny's wellness program. The Colonial
he was right." include custom-tailored, doctor- team, which competes nationally
Colonial's wellness program was approved rehabilitation sessions for each year against other major corpo-
launched in 1983. Today, it features employees who have suffered heart rations, always sets the pace.
a 1,600-square-foot fitness facility attacks or other adverse medical
called Wellpower, located on the events. Paying Financial Dividends?
company's campus. The facility Hubbard and company also offer Is Colonial's wellness program
houses men's and women's locker specialty classes such as shag paying financial dividends? It seems
rooms with showers, thereby allow- lessons and canoe/kayak trips. A so. The firm's parent company,
ing employees to work out, run, or new Walking Club is in the works. UnumProvident, spends $80 million
play basketball on their lunch hours "These activities are fun and they a year on medical costs for its 13,000
or during work breaks. help people stay in shape," says employees nationwide. But
The wide-ranging wellness pro- Hubbard, who has a Master in Public UnumProvident's health care costs
gram also provides a raft of exercise Health degree from the University of are not going up as fast as the
machines and a variety of group fit- South Carolina. nation's; Colonial officials point to

4 Business & Economic Review I October-December 2004


osteopenia, decreased bone density "I've lost some fat and gained some
"We've got a lot of peo- that puts a person more at risk for muscle," she says, "and my clothes
developing osteoporosis.) Carson are looser." And, since she began
ple who won't leave here says her workouts also help her stay Colonial's wellness program, she
[Colonial Life and Acci- mentally in shape. "People don't rarely needs to see a doctor.
dent Insurance Compa- make me mad if I've had my work-
out," she says with a smile. She Doctors Care
ny] because they like takes fewer sick days, too, and when In early 2003, Dr. Michael Stout,
their jobs, but they love she does
our wellness center." become ill, says
Carson, "I don't
stay siok as
the wellness program as one reason. long." She
And, a company study done in 1995 rarely takes a
reported savings of $2.81 for each $1 Friday off,
spent on health promotion. because she'd
"Our wellness program really miss one of her
adds something to the company workouts, and
environment," says Don Mont- she frets about
gomery, "If you took it away, there missing her
would be a major hole." Colonial's workouts when
focus on fitness, in fact, is a featured she does take a
aspect of the company's recruiting vacation.
ads, and the foous helps attract Debby Jones,
good employees. The fitness pro- a fiftyish busi-
grams also help the company retain ness analyst and
The Army Fitness Challenge at Colonial Life involved numerous sit-
employees. "We've got a lot of peo- project manag-
ups.
ple who won't leave here because er, calls Colo-
they iike their jobs, but they love our nial's wellness
wellness center," says Montgomery. program "just what the doctor president and CEO of Doctors Care,
Pat Carson, a slender senior actu- ordered for women my age." In fact, a South Carolina-based network of
arial analyst and 18-year veteran of one reason she accepted a full-time medical offices providing urgent
the company, is one of those job with Colonial last fall, after con- patient care, implored his elder
employees. Indoor cycling, body sulting for the company for a couple daughter to give up smoking. She
sculpting, and other classes that she of years, was the company's well- eventually did. Then Stout decided it
attends at least four times a week ness program. Jones, who attends a was time to make his medical cen-
keep her physically in shape and are cardio kickboxing class regularly and ters, which employ more than 600
people at 41 locations, smoke-free.
"Smoking sets a bad tone, espe-
cially in a medical facility," says
Stout, a medical doctor. "And it
sends a bad message to our
patients." So the word went out that
as of Feb. 1, 2003, Doctors Care
would be a smoke-free company.
But the company didn't just issue the
directive. Stout announced that
Doctors Care would reimburse
employees who were trying to kick
the habit up to three months' cost of
over-the-counter or prescription
medications to help them quit.
The upshot was that 22 employ-
Colonial Life employees begin their two-mile run as part of the Army Fitness Chal-
ees gave up cigarettes. "If just one
lenge.
person had (stopped smoking), it
was worth it," says Stout. But Doc-
helping her build needed bone mass. also uses the treadmill on her own, tors Care didn't stop there. To fur-
(She was diagnosed last year with says she feels great and is rarely ill. ther promote the health and well-

Business & Economic Review ! October-December 2004 5


being of its employees, the company
launched a fitness program in collab-
oration with Specialized Fitness, a
Tips for Starting a Corporate Wellness Program '^
wellness center that focuses on per- Secure senior management's support. Senior Management must
sonal training and nutrition counsel- make wellness a cornerstone to corporate culture. They must take an
ing. active role with an open door to communications, funding, and process.
Called the JumpStart Challenge, Do the homework. HR professionals should conduct their due diligence
the program was a specific exercise before jumping in headfirst. Visit other corporate facilities to quantify the
and weight-loss program for its type of programs that the company can afford (from both a space and
employees. Workers were able to financial perspective) and that fit employees' needs.
use Specialized Fitness' exercise Set a strategic course. A busy HR department doesn't need another
equipment, free of charge. Experts hat to wear. Hire a program director and staff who are true professionals
also provided nutrition counseling and can help establish and maintain the program's direction. Look for
and personal training. professionals who are knowledgeable about national health and fitness
Doctors Care came up with finan- standards and are certified trainers.
cial incentives to increase participa-
Balance the scales. Facilities and activities need to be inviting to any-
tion: teams were formed at each
one who wants to improve their health. The key is to find the right bal-
center for the weight-loss challenge,
and the contests became fiercely ance of programs that attract the A-Z employee — from the marathon
competitive. "One office would send runner to the person whose only exercise is walking from the parking lot.
over donuts in the morning to tempt Create a supportive environment. A wellness program should be fos-
the workers," says Stout. "They tered in a friendly, encouraging environment. Develop a tracking system
would respond by sending candy of "what works" and "what doesn't." This is not only helpful from a pro-
back." gramming standpoint, but also serves as a Return on Investment mea-
In the end, 80 participants com- surement for budgetary reasons.
pleted the 10-week challenge, losing
a total of 607 pounds. Cash prizes
were given to the winning teams.
Now, similar programs are being Energizing an Anemic Wellness Program ^*
planned at all Doctors Care centers
Re-evaiuate your wellness program staff. Staff should not only fill
in the state. In addition, employees
their fiduciary roles, but also should act as true, enthusiastic ambas-
can continue their free use of exer-
sadors within the workplace. Instructors should combine the right mix of
cise equipment and are provided
encouragement, excitement, and follow-up with a true personal touch to
with monthly nutrition and healthy
service.
lifestyle updates.
Stout is pleased with the results of Initiate employee feedback. Solicit feedback from both active employ-
the Doctors Care health initiative. ees and those who have disengaged from the program. Channels for
"People are happy, and our health employee feedback should be established, whether It's an employee
care costs are down," he says — one advisory committee that actively solicits feedback and aids in communi-
reason being that employees are tak- cating the program, or a suggestion box that's more anonymous in
ing fewer sick days. Workers are nature.
"very appreciative of the program," Motivate, motivate, motivate. Wellness programs should incorporate
agrees Jacqueline D, McAllister, vice attainable goals and objectives for employees. Establish programs with
president of finance and corporate a progressive level of short-term goals under the umbrella of an overar-
controller. She herself is one of these ching, long-term objective. Rewards — from T-shirts to gift certificates
grateful employees. at local sporting-goods stores — help encourage employees to stay on
McAllister has lost 48 pounds in track.
the past year and is well on her way Update and upgrade program image. Evaluate facilities and equip-
to her goal of losing 80 pounds. "I ment for upgrades. A fresh coat of paint and a good deep cleaning often
feel better," she says. Plus, now she work wonders. . . Staff should address current health issues, capitalize
takes just one blood pressure med- on the latest exercise fads, and leverage annual health observances. . .
ication when she used to take three. Tap low-cost resources. A myriad of low-cost resources are available
McAllister continues to work out to beef up any wellness program, such as free health screenings by local
three to five times a week. So do hospitals, health and fitness information available on the Internet or from
Stout and Jerry F Weils, Jr., the com- area physicians, and "Lunch-and-Learns" offered by health-related orga-
pany's chief financial officer. "It's nizations.
important for our employees to see
us participating, too," Stout says.

6 Business & Economic Review I October-December 2004


The smaller the workplace, the less
"Doctors Care came up with financial incentives to likely it is to offer health promotion
programs.'" Moreover, certain indus-
increase participation: teams were formed at each tries, such as retail sales, have been
center for the weight-loss challenge, and the contests less likely to offer health promotion
became fiercely competitive." programs.*' And, low-wage, blue-
collar, and minority workers have
less access to health promotion pro-
In the spring of 2004, Doctors gram, organized by teams, that
grams at work, despite evidence that
Care won a Best Practices Award in compete against one another. "This
these very employees "suffer a dis-
the category of Health and Safety is, by far, our most popular program,"
proportionate share of diseases and
from the South Carolina Psychologi- says Melissa Hale, a former graduate
health problems. . .". '^
cal Association for its smoking ces- assistant with Wellness Works.
It's clear that employers need to
sation and physical fitness initiatives.
Other Programs acknowledge the role that work con-
University of South Carolina ditions play in their employees'
Wellness programs can now be
health and productivity. It's also
At the University of South Carolina found at U.S. companies across the
clear that employers and employees
(USC), the state's largest university country. At Children's Memorial
must work together to improve work-
with its main campus in Columbia, Hospital in Chicago, employees are
ers' health. •
faculty and staff can participate in offered points for participating in
the Wellness Works program, intro- healthy activities, such as attending
duced in 1996. a yoga class, exercising for 30 min-
utes at home, running a marathon, or Endnotes
The program, run on a shoestring
' www.welcoa.org/presskit/experts.php
budget of about $6,000 annually, is playing on a sports team. Points can - National Business Group on Health. Wash-
looked on "as a benefit to faculty and then be cashed in for gift certificates. ington, D.C.
staff," says Michelle Murphy-Burcin, "The highest gift — worth 250 points ' Amy Joyce, "Workplace Wellness Programs
program director of Corporate Well- — is a paid day off," writes Carol Help Keep Budget Healthy," Ttie Washington
Post. May 20, 2003.
ness at USC. Patton in the May 2004 issue of
' Don Montgomery, HR.com. May 2004.
Wellness Works has a variety of Human Resource Executive. "Last ' Ibid.
offerings: comprehensive health year, 22 employees received this •• I b i d .
screenings (including a reward." Laura Linnan, "The Future of Workplace
cholesterol/lipid profile) for just $15; Patton also tells of the Washoe Health in America," 2004 Wellness Councils
of America, www.welcoa.org
bone density and PSA (to detect County School District in Reno, ' Ibid.
prostate cancer) screenings; group Nevada, whose wellness program for ' Ibid.
walking programs; a weight mainte- its nearly 7,000 teachers and staff is "-• Ibid.
nance program to help people main- "focused on individual responsibility '• Ibid.
'• I b i d .
tain their weight over the holidays; and incentive-based activities."
free blood pressure readings at any Activities sponsored by the program " Don Montgomery, op. cit.
" Ibid.
time; Lunch-'N-Learn noontime pro- include cholesterol screenings, food-
grams that cover a variety of health safety programs, and wellness
topics; and a video lending library adventures, such as kayaking on
that offers exercise videos and tapes nearby Lake Tahoe. A study to deter-
on yoga, dance, weight control, mine the short-term impact on
stress management, Pilates, medita- employee health-care costs and
tion, and so forth. absenteeism rates during 2001 and
During the 2002-2003 academic 2002 in the Washoe School District
year, 576 USC workers took advan- found that absentee rates for pro-
tage of the health screening services, gram participants dropped by 20
and nearly 500 participated in other percent, saving local taxpayers $3
programs. million.
In addition, more than 500
employees have signed up for the Challenges Remain
Wellness Works list-serv, and receive Enormous progress has been
regular e-mails about program offer- made in the past 30 years toward
ings, nutritious recipes, and the like. wellness in the workplace. But sig-
This past fall, more than 200 Univer- nificant challenges remain.
sity employees participated in Walk- Not all worksites offer health pro-
ing Works, a 6-week walking pro- motion programs to their employees.

Business & Economic ftewew / October-December 2004 7

Interesses relacionados