Beyond Health Insurance: Innovations From the Best

Beyond Health Insurance: Innovations From the Best

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the U.S. congress is going to debate healthcare reform.  While it has been debated thoroughly over the last two years, and deservedly so given its importance, it got me to thinking about the ways the best companies have evolved their healthcare approaches during that time.

Many have tackled the thorny challenge of paying for health insurance by finding ways to cut costs in other areas, working harder to maximize their investment, or collaborating with employees to find and decide on the best benefits package.  There has also been a trend to broaden offerings past just standard insurance and deductibles, such as offering elder care benefits and support resources.

The most prominent development I’ve seen is how great workplaces have elevated their wellness and health initiatives. Take the example of Wegmans Food Markets and its “eat well. live well.” Employee Challenge Program.

The challenge is an eight-week contest of physical activity and healthy eating, open to all 39,000 Wegmans employees. Participants have two main tasks: 1) count their steps, working toward the goal of 10,000 steps each day, and 2) track their consumption of fruits and vegetables, striving for five cups a day.  This past year, more than 11,000 employees registered for the challenge – with all divisions and 400+ teams competing.

Employees are supported in many ways to reach their goals. Kickoff events, free pedometers, weekly e-mails with tips, and coupons for healthy food products in Wegmans stores. Participants can also take advantage of a special website to submit their numbers, gauge their progress, check how they rank among other teams, and receive helpful information on healthy lifestyles.

It’s reaching beyond just employees too. Through partnerships with regional business and community groups, this Wegmans program has reached over 150,000 individuals in the Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo area.

Wegmans achieved all of this with an approximate investment of about $350,000. It’s not a small chunk of money. Yet the company continued to demonstrate it’s a great workplace and boost their ties to their communities and customer base, already well-known as extremely faithful.

Perhaps it’s time to change the national conversation from healthcare reform to wellness adoption?  Please tell us -- what are your organisations doing to support employee health?