We are HealthFitness, and we’re “better” people. We believe that achieving better health is a unique lifelong journey that is best achieved when people have help along the way.
Help from people like Megan Sherman, a HealthFitness program manager who leads the wellness program for a leading financial services company.
The company places a top priority on the health and wellbeing of its employees, partnering with HealthFitness to build and integrate its wellness program into the company culture to support and boost employee wellness for 40,000 employees and their spouses.
Just like the company she serves, Sherman makes health and wellbeing a priority and has a passion—and a personal reason—for doing so. “I was active throughout my childhood and participated in sports, but I learned the importance of health firsthand when my dad had a heart attack in his 40s,” she says. “Thankfully, my dad recovered and we all made it through, but I learned how your lifestyle—healthy or unhealthy—corresponds to your health.”
After his heart attack, Sherman’s dad started making healthy choices and improved his lifestyle—and his health. This inspired Sherman to pursue a career in health and fitness, first working at a hospital-based fitness center, and then moving to corporate wellness. When Sherman learned about the possibility of leading wellness at a financial services company, she jumped at the opportunity—and challenge—of working with a large, dispersed workforce.
“I was ready for the challenge of engaging all employees—and their spouses—no matter where they are located,” she says.
Although the company provides a robust wellness program to its employees, many of the workers are sedentary and are challenged with sitting all day at their desk. Sherman wanted a solution that would reach the company’s workforce and inspire employees to move more and sit less by making time for a brief fitness break.
Sherman led the charge and developed a program so that all employees received a stretch band, an instruction sheet for 16 exercises they could do at their desk, and note from the director of human resources explaining the health benefits of using the stretch band.
“This program reinforces how stretching and strengthening exercises offer quick ways to help employees improve their health—from reducing fatigue to improving balance, coordination and posture,” Sherman says. “Employees use these exercises to help break up the amount of time spent sitting during the workday, and ultimately fit fitness into their day.”
In addition to the stretch band program, Sherman notes that wellness challenges are very popular because they play to a common characteristic found in the sales associates: competitiveness. “Financial advisors are extremely competitive—many are former athletes—and team-based step challenges work really well,” Sherman says. “We see the offices competing with each other and regions competing against other regions. The competitive component engages and connects participants throughout the country.”
What can be better?
As Sherman works to support employee health and wellness, she constantly looks for ways to improve the program. “My goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of the employees and I’ll do whatever it takes to make a difference in their lives,” she says. “It’s tougher to connect with a dispersed population so I try to make a voice connection when possible—making phone calls instead of sending emails.”
Sherman makes it a priority to listen to employees and meet their changing needs and health priorities—including stress management. “No matter what health topic we present in our group education programs—whether it’s a short meet up or a seminar—the subject of stress keeps coming up,” she says. “As a result, we started weaving that topic into more of our wellness programming to support and educate employees.”
Sherman also notes that listening to employees resulted in the company adjusting its incentive program. “Many employees told us that they have a gym membership and asked if the company could subsidize part of the cost,” she says. “This is challenging with a large and dispersed population because not all associates have access to the same fitness centers.”
In order to support employees’ fitness efforts, Sherman partnered with human resources to launch a gym reimbursement verification program where an employee submits a form to the customer service department to verify their membership and they receive up to $130 back for gym membership. “This really helps employees become more active,” Sherman says. “The gym membership reimbursement programs shows how we listen to their needs.”
Now in her sixth year leading wellness at the company, Sherman is pleased to report great participation rates and outcomes, with improvement in every area of employee health and wellness. Highlights include:
- 80% participation rates in health assessment and biometric screening.
- 58.7% of participants have improved or maintained their overall wellness score.
- All lifestyle measures have improved with the greatest improvement being in physical activity
- Nutrition (+1.5%)
- Physical activity (+9.1%)
- Sleep (+1.4%)
- Stress (+1.0%)
- Tobacco (+0.8%)
Sherman is proud of the results, but she knows her work is far from over. “We are constantly listening to associates to learn about their changing needs,” she says. “Employee satisfaction is just as important as reaching great outcomes.”
She looks forward to improving both employee satisfaction and program results in the coming years. “The wellness program is very important to our associates, so we work hard to continue to enhance their experience,” she says. “I am extremely proud and happy to be a part of it.”
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