Magazine article Occupational Hazards

From Warm Fuzzies to Fitness Culture: Moen, a Cleveland-Based Manufacturer of High-Quality Faucets, Showers and Accessories, Is Showering Praise on Its Wellness Programs for Their Potential to Cut Health Care Costs

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

From Warm Fuzzies to Fitness Culture: Moen, a Cleveland-Based Manufacturer of High-Quality Faucets, Showers and Accessories, Is Showering Praise on Its Wellness Programs for Their Potential to Cut Health Care Costs

Article excerpt

When the 2,500-square-foot wellness center at Moen Inc.'s North Olmsted, Ohio, headquarters opened about a dozen years ago, it was viewed primarily as something that would give people the "warm fuzzies."

Today, with soaring health insurance costs on the minds of Moen management and many other companies, Moen is taking a serious look at ways the wellness center and wellness programs can trim fat from its bottom line.

"In the beginning, it was viewed as just a soft benefit, a feel-good benefit," says Program Manager Chad Hanzlicek, who is in charge of Moen's wellness initiatives. "Now management is seeing that it really works, that one way to reduce risk is to use the wellness center."

Hanzlicek isn't just basing that on warm fuzzies: A formal study conducted by Moen in 2005 concluded that for every dollar spent on wellness initiatives, Moen trims $3 to $4 from the bottom line.

Hanzlicek also points to a random sampling of more than 500 Moen employees that revealed a dramatic difference between health care expenditures for members of the wellness center versus nonmembers. For example, for every $100 spent on health care over the course of a year, nonmembers spent $46.30 on inpatient medical services while members spent a paltry $4.76, according to the survey.

And while many companies have had to continually ask employees to up their contributions to their health care packages, Moen Vice President of Human Resources Robyn Hill points out that the company did not increase employee contribution levels from 2005 to 2006--which she attributes in large part to Moen's wellness programs.

"[Wellness] is absolutely a key and core part of not just our benefits strategies but also our overall business strategies," Hill says.

Hill adds that Moen's wellness programs--which include group exercise classes, personal training sessions, health fairs, CPR/first aid classes, massages and "lunch and learn" educational seminars--have been so successful that the company would like to take them to "the next level." The next level likely will include taking steps to better integrate wellness into the company's benefits package and to offer wellness programs at all Moen locations for its 3,000 employees worldwide.

THE 'FAT BOWL'

Moen has a solid platform to take its wellness program to the next level: Currently, about 285 of Moen's 500 North Olmsted employees have wellness center memberships.

The wellness center offers most of the amenities you'd find at any commercial fitness club--including strength-training equipment, 14 cardiovascular machines and a full locker room ("with the best showerheads and faucets in town," Hanzlicek quips)--but the membership fees are a pittance by comparison. North Olmsted employees can join the wellness center for $15 a month, while workers at Moen's nearby Elyria, Ohio, manufacturing facility can use the center for free.

Still, it isn't necessarily the low membership costs that are getting employees involved in health and fitness. Hill credits much of the success of the wellness program to its staff--Hanzlicek and fitness specialist Gina Palmieri, both of whom are certified in personal training and group exercise instruction--and the activities they create to keep employees engaged.

"Their passion and commitment gets folks excited about it," Hill says. "Without the right people managing the program, I don't think it can be as effective."

One of Hanzlicek's goals for the wellness program is to make a more concerted effort to measure participation and to retain employees who get involved in wellness activities.

To accomplish the latter goal, Hanzlicek says Moen can build on mainstays such as the "Fat Bowl," a popular program that has been motivating Moen employees to exercise for 8 years.

The Fat Bowl is an 8-week competition--running from January through March--in which teams of four employees earn points for healthy activities such as exercising, eating healthy foods and drinking water. …

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