By Dan Weddle
President, ProTech Systems Group, Inc.
At ProTech Systems Group these days, you’re likely to see employees wandering around outside the office building— sometimes in groups of two or more — but it’s not aimless wandering. More and more, ProTech employees are holding small meetings or taking conference calls while on the move. They’re also parking their vehicles in the far reaches of the parking lot.
It’s all part of an effort to up the “step count” on their fitness monitoring devices. And, it has a dual purpose: win a prize in the friendly step competition among fellow employees and, hopefully, get a little healthier, too.
The “get healthier” factor was the top reason we implemented a wellness program at ProTech. First and foremost, we value our employees and want them to lead healthy lives. On the business side, a healthier workforce means less absenteeism, higher productivity, reduced long-term healthcare costs and a happy, healthy workplace.
Our program has been running for about 90 days, not enough time to measure success, but our research points to a sure-fire return on investment. “The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine” published the results of a study that shows small businesses can save as much as $1.65 in the cost of healthcare for every dollar they spend on programs promoting healthy lifestyles for employees; other studies claim a savings of $3 or more for every dollar spent.
We wanted to do more than offer health tips, so we decided to create a little motivation and friendly competition. Employees who complete the first steps of the program (an online health assessment) are given fitness monitoring devices paid for by ProTech. Through an online and mobile Vitality app, employees can enter monthly challenges to win prizes. They can also create their own challenges and earn vitality points through other actions such as getting flu shots, medical and dental checkups, taking daily quizzes on health-related topics and more. Participating in athletic events can earn as much as 500 points and participating in a sports league earns 350 points. The points translate to vitality bucks, which can be spent at the online “mall” for such items as Amazon, Target or Macy’s gift cards. ProTech awards its own prizes for top finishers in the challenges.
So far, the program has been very well -received, especially the competitive aspect. But we’re finding the benefits reach beyond a measureable ROI. As with any small business that begins to experience growing pains, transformational leadership programs such as these can be the answer to employee satisfaction as they begin to experience the downside of growth: less one-on-one interaction with senior management. Early feedback from ProTech’s program indicates employees like the fact that their employer not only cares about their health and well-being but is doing something to prove it.