Wellness Programs at the Best Companies

Wellness Programs at the Best Companies

A growing number of businesses are turning to wellness programs to manage their bottom line, while still building a great workplace for employees. The best companies have repeatedly led the way in offering innovative approaches to employee benefits and they prove equally creative when it comes to building strong wellness programs.

Take the example of Wegmans Food Markets and its “eat well. live well.” Employee Challenge Program. The challenge is an annual 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, Wegmans supported the more than 11,000 participating employees with kick-off events, free pedometers, weekly e-mails with tips, and coupons for healthy food products in their stores. Participants 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.

And the effort isn’t limited to large companies. The 95 employees of Kahler Slater, an architectural design firm, have access to health coaches and health risk assessments. Individuals that meet their health goals are rewarded with a discount of $720 off their annual 2010 health premiums. In addition, the firm sponsors a Wellness Committee that creates both promotional and competitive activities to keep everyone engaged. The committee works on three firm-wide activities per year, including charity weight loss challenges and events like "Fast Food Challenge," a month-long avoidance of fast-food.

Not only can a successful wellness program keep people away from the doctor and costs down, but strong programs can  also build camaraderie and show employees their employer cares. Perhaps it’s time to change our focus from bracing for healthcare reform to wellness adoption? Please tell us -- what is your company doing to support employee health?

Marcus Erb is a Senior Research Partner and guest blogger at Great Place To Work®.