The Right Fit: How an Employee Wellness Program Boosted Health and Morale
In 2006, FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers, sought to enhance the health and well-being of its more than 5,000 global employees. Through its total rewards program, FM Global is committed to developing a workforce of long-term employees by ensuring the workplace provides a positive and rewarding career experience. The creation of the Total Health wellness program marked a distinct way to further invest in employees by minimizing health risks and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. As part of this initiative, FM Global saw a compelling opportunity to roll out a fitness campaign with Shape Up The Nation.
A Wellness Challenge: Demographics and Geography
Headquartered in Johnston, R.I., FM Global has employees in more than 60 locations around the world, with 3,600 of its employees in the United States alone. More than onethird are long-standing individuals with 30 or more years of service in a variety of locations. Many employees, such as the loss prevention field engineers, work remotely. To continue building on the Total Health wellness program and help these employees, FM Global sought to create a fitness
campaign that would encourage participation at all fitness levels and also include geographically dispersed and remote employees. A solution presented itself in 2008. While attending an information session about a nonprofit community wellness initiative called Shape Up Rhode Island, FM Global learned that a similar wellness platform from Shape Up The Nation was available to large employers. Shape Up The Nation is a wellness program that uses social networking to encourage people at all health and fitness levels to work with colleagues to achieve optimal health. Upon review of Shape Up The Nation, FM Global decided that the platform could cost-effectively accommodate its geographic and demographic requirements for a wellness program.
Shaping Up FM Global
FM Global signed on with Shape Up The Nation in 2008, offering the program to nearly 4,000 employees in the United States and Canada. The social networking functionality of the Shape Up The Nation platform was a key factor in successfully engaging and motivating many FM Global
employees to form teams and have continued participation in the program. For example, FM Global designated local-office wellness champions to organize events, such as walking groups and information sessions on how to train for a 5K. The result was a widespread effort with employees at all levels participating, including the executive team — with
some top-level executives even serving as team captains. Another key benefit of Shape Up The Nation’s platform was that it enabled employees to track individual progress of pedometer steps, minutes of exercise or weight loss via three convenient reporting methods: self-reporting online,
reporting via team captains online or calling customer support. This accessibility eased the challenges of a population diverse in location and technological access. The online platform was especially helpful, as it not only let participants track progress but also schedule group exercise opportunities, find colleagues with similar health interests, use online fitness and nutrition trackers and participate in team competitions. Participants could invite, challenge, track and motivate one another as they set their personal goals and worked collectively to achieve them.
The results from the initial engagement with Shape Up The Nation were astonishing, with more than 1,600 FM Global employees participating in the program and losing, on average, 6 pounds each. Employee feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with one employee commenting, “This program is a good team-building approach. Furthermore, it shows that FM Global takes its employees’ health to heart.” Nearly 80 percent of participants were active through the entire duration of the program. This high retention rate prompted FM Global to partner with Shape Up The Nation again in 2009 and expand the program to all of its employees worldwide. In 2009, the program ran from March through June, and each participant received a startup kit (including a logbook, pedometer and wristband) and access to the Shape Up FM Global online system. More
than 300 teams were created comprised of more than 2,800 participating employees. The 2009 Shape Up program achieved a 56-percent participation rate, a 73-percent retention rate and an overwhelming 90-percent employee satisfaction rate. A two-time participant wrote: “In two years of Shape Up, I have lost a total of 35 pounds. I am now healthier and much more active. I look forward to next year.” Another participant said, “In March I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and instructed by my doctor to be more active and try to lose 10 to 15 pounds. After the competition began, I started walking more often, and changed my diet. I have lost 25 pounds, and lowered my sugar levels below 200. I can say that this friendly competition has helped me regain control of my body, and helped me become much healthier.
Participants who completed the program in 2009 lost an average of 7 pounds (1.0 BMI, or body mass index, point), and 11 percent of participants in the weight-loss division lost 10 or more pounds. One hundred ninety-seven participants lowered their BMI status from obese to overweight or from overweight to healthy weight, and the average employee who participated in the weight-loss division had a final BMI of 28.
On top of the staggering results and positive feedback, estimated medical and pharmaceutical claims cost savings during one year from the change in BMI status is estimated to be $259,079. Significant cost savings are also expected to be noted with regard to decreased absenteeism, decreased worker’s compensation claims, increased productivity, improved morale and increased retention.
FM Global credits Shape Up The Nation with supporting its objective to promote a corporate culture of health and wellness throughout the entire organization with an easyto-use and engaging platform that employees around the world can access. The initiative also supports FM Global’s employee retention strategy to make a significant and longterm investment in its employees and aligns well with the company’s business mission focused on proactively managing
risk. These reasons, along with the consistent results and return on investment, made it an easy choice to offer the program to employees for the third time in 2010.