Walking the Wellness Walk
Jan 24, 2014 - 12:30:54 PM
Two Long Term Care Partners Employees Enjoying the Benefits of the Tread Desk.
Nowadays when an onlooker spots an on-premises pedestrian, odds are better that it's a fitness-minded employee than a fowl.
The uptick in walking among LTC Partners employees is one result of the insurance and benefits administrator's ambitious new multi-pronged wellness program, which launched in 2013.
"The timing was right for a fresh start in helping employees to better manage their health," says Paul Forte, LTCP's CEO. "Like many companies in large industrial parks, LTCP's food choices and exercise options were limited. People made what arrangements they could. But nothing was organized. With an average employee age of 45 years and health insurance premiums rising, it made sense to see what new habits and routines might be introduced."
So in late 2013, LTC Partners distributed free fitness trackers to employees who completed a health questionnaire. These wearable gadgets wirelessly track users' steps, miles, stairs climbed, calories burned, and sleep patterns both daily and over time, and connect to online profiles and social forums where coworkers can interact. For further motivation, monthly contests were instituted challenging users to walk 10,000 steps each day to qualify for gift card drawings.
What if it's too cold to walk, or too hot-or employees are simply too busy? Nice try. Working tread-desks were recently installed on every floor, enabling employees to "get their steps in" while connected to the company server and checking e-mail, reading reports or doing other work.
It's tempting to make a knowing comment here about the corporate treadmill-but the results have been undeniably impressive. Indeed, the fitness trackers have become something of an obsession for many employees; due to the demand, tread-desks actually need to be reserved in advance. In November alone, 34 participants successfully completed the "10,000 steps a day" challenge, and 77 participants collectively logged more than 4,000 miles. As of January 2014, over 50% of the workforce is wearing the devices.
What's more, at LTC Partners walking is only one piece of the wellness puzzle. Other current and forthcoming initiatives include the following:
"The response has been remarkable," said Melissa McLaughlin, Human Resources Director for Long Term Care Partners, who heads the program. "We have a great spirit of camaraderie here which makes working together on projects like this a pleasure for our employees - who also enjoy the competitive aspect. We can see that the weight loss and exercise programs have been successful and we know our staff members are enjoying the fact that they feel better. They're entering the new year with tools at their disposal that allow them to achieve their fitness resolutions."
McLaughlin estimates that 65% of the company's employees have participated in its wellness program in one way or another. Over 100 have been walking regularly. During the three in-house weight loss sessions offered, 50 employees have collectively lost over 1,400 pounds.
LTC Partners' wellness initiative isn't just beneficial for employees, either. Studies have routinely shown that employers who utilize corporate wellness programs enjoy decreased absenteeism, reduced health care expenses and increased productivity among employees. Such trends aren't lost on the insurers who provide group coverage to employers. During its last annual negotiation with its health insurers, LTC Partners negotiated a reduced premium increase for its group health plan renewal thanks to the emphasis on employee wellness.
"Programs like this, which are designed to keep people fit - and promote early detection of health changes - increase employee productivity and workforce engagement," said Forte. "We knew we were making an investment in our workforce, but we had no idea that it would be paying dividends so quickly."
LTCP Background Long Term Care Partners, LLC (LTCP), founded in 2002, administers both BENEFEDS and the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program under the oversight of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The company plans to expand into the commercial third party administration (TPA) market in Q2 2014.
LTCP is led by Chief Executive Officer Paul E. Forte, who has more than 30 years of experience working with governmental entities, large corporations, and educational institutions on all aspects of insurance administration. LTCP is located at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and employs more than 275 people full-time, not including contractors and temporary employees. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of John Hancock Life Insurance Company, which is itself a subsidiary of Toronto-based Manulife Financial Corporation, a global insurance and wealth-management company.
More information about LTCP can be found on the Web at www.ltcpartners.com.
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