Monday, June 18, 2012

Grab the Popcorn (Herb Seasoning, No Butter!): Employee Wellness Coming Soon to Every Office Near You!

In April, the Pittsburgh Business Times selected UnitedHealthcare as one of their 2012 Healthiest Employers in Western Pennsylvania. This designation was further defined last Thursday when we placed second among finalists at the Business Times Awards luncheon.

It’s a recognition we hope never to win again.

What? Sue, have you lost it?!

Okay, let’s back up and I’ll clarify. Of course, UnitedHealthcare is extremely honored to be recognized by the Business Times for the health and wellness achievements of our company and employees. We are thrilled our ‘Your Rewards for Health’ employee initiative is delivering amazing results and changing lives for the better. And, personally, I couldn’t be more proud of the 72 percent of employees enrolled in the program who are meeting or exceeding goals on their personalized health scorecards. Yes, UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to getting 100 percent of our employees in the program. And if doing so earns us future recognition, we will accept it with the sincerest gratitude and pride.

However, the"prize" on which UnitedHealthcare truly focuses is a global corporate culture in which healthy practices in the workplace are as natural as emailing. That is, through the innovations, relationships and solutions we offer today’s employers, our goal is to help see to it that workplace wellness is commonplace -- that no employer is the healthiest, because EVERY employer is committed to being equally healthy.

If you’re thinking "not in my lifetime," think again. Such a culture is almost here according to a recent survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, which estimates that seven in 10 American employers offer wellness initiatives that are directly attributable to improving employee health and reducing health care costs.* The survey also found that workplace wellness knows no boundaries. No business is too big or too small to take the steps toward a healthier workplace. No employee is too busy, financially strapped or willpower-less to benefit, because, in general, we’re not talking major overhauls. We’re talking about small steps; about using the built-in support system of your colleagues.

To illustrate my point, I offer a few examples that work for UnitedHealthcare… from our largest to smallest locations:
  • Annual “Biggest Loser” contests – measuring progress in various biometric areas
  • Popcorn Fridays
  • Weekly ”Walk the Stairs in Pairs” days
  • Watchful Wednesdays – employees keep each others’ appetites in check
  • Wellness-friendly cafeteria options and pointers on how to make better choices
  • Financial incentives in exchange for meeting specified health goals

For a longer list of workplace wellness programs that work, check out some of the stories from the PhiladelphiaBusiness Journal’s 2012 list of Healthiest Employers

Many of these wellness strategies nurture stronger teamwork and higher successes in health goals for a more productive workplace, and a healthier bottom line. So, you see, small additions or changes to a company’s environment can deliver big results, not just for the wellbeing of the business, but for employees, their families and, ultimately, the communities in which we all work and live.

UHC employees in western PA office enjoy a brisk walk during lunch time

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