San Diego Business Journal

Wellness Programs Shape Bodies, Attitudes and Teams

HEALTH: Firms Control Insurance Costs and Create Camaraderie With Plans By Julie Gallant Monday, October 8, 2012

Several local companies participating in corporate wellness programs are seeing the payoffs, not only in the form of stabilized health insurance costs but also in improved physical well-being of their staff and the intangibles of better teamwork.

Sandee Rugg, director of human resources for the downtown insurance agency Cavignac & Associates, said participation among its 40 employees in Sonic Boom Wellness’ program for the past several years has led to richer relationships.

“At one point every single employee was actively participating in it,” said Rugg. “Some of the outcomes of this from an HR standpoint are that we have a healthier, happier workforce as measured by lower absenteeism and it’s fostered closer camaraderie between co-workers.”

Cavignac & Associates uses Sonic Boom Wellness’ Web-based program that enables employees to participate in daily challenges and encourages employees to participate in exercise or nutrition activities, such as dancing the electric slide for five minutes. The Web program also offers employees the opportunity to monitor their health by precisely keeping track of water and food intake.

Great Start

“When I come into the office I can see employees early in the morning on the Sonic Boom programs — filling in their tracking, looking at the challenge of the day and teeing up the day in a health-related way,” Rugg said.

Contests help keep the staff engaged in wellness, and they add an element of fun. Sonic Boom provides pedometers so the staff can not only track the number of steps they take and how far they walk in a day, but they also compete against each other or as teams to see who had the most activity in a given period of time. From Halloween through New Year’s Day the company’s wellness committee organizes a separate contest to see who can maintain their weight the best.

Results of the program were seen this year by the small percentage increase in health insurance renewal cost, which was the lowest it’s been in six years at 8.7 percent, according to Rugg.

“The health of the members of the agency is much improved. People have quit smoking; they’ve lost weight; and we rarely have people absent anymore,” she said. “That’s wonderful. It’s just really nice that people are not sick. It’s nice that they’re healthy and feel good.”

Life Technologies Corp., a global life sciences company based in Carlsbad that offers a range of products and services from instruments to everyday lab essentials, is in the process of switching its wellness provider to LiveHealthier of Bethesda, Md., starting this December.

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