Taking steps toward workers' health
By Detroit Free Press
Published: Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
For a growing number of workers, the most transformational workplace gadget isn't the iPhone 5 or a mini tablet computer. It's something much more basic: a pedometer.
Eager to cut health care costs and improve productivity, large employers such as Domino's Pizza, General Electric and Huntington National Bank, are embracing the devices for their workforce, holding contests to see who can walk the most steps and offering rewards, such as T-shirts, cash and reduced health insurance premiums.
“It's become part of the fabric of our culture,” said Patti Wilmot, Domino's executive vice president of PeopleFirst. “It creates a lot of camaraderie and a lot of teamwork.”
Last year, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza chain started offering pedometers to its 3,000 employees who are eligible for benefits. Today, nearly half of them are using the fitness trackers. Every step they take can help them earn up to $325 from the company.
Jennifer Balliett, Domino's benefits manager, said that 40(PERCENT) of employees who started wearing pedometers have reached what is considered to be an active or highly active fitness level.
“Healthy employees are happier, more productive employees,” said Andrew Gutman, chief financial officer at the Farbman Group, a Southfield, Mich.-based real estate services firm that is buying $25 pedometers for each of its 200 employees.
Domino's and Huntington offer employee pedometer programs created by Virgin HealthMiles, a Massachusetts-based provider of workplace wellness programs. Its pedometer programs are used by 150 large companies and organizations, including half a dozen in Michigan such as the East China School District and Gardner-White.
The Virgin HealthMiles pedometer program sets high goals for participants, challenging them to reach 7,000 steps a day, the equivalent of 3.5 miles. It takes 2,000 steps to reach a mile.
“It's a core part of overall healthy behavior change,” said Tom Abshire, Virgin HealthMiles' senior vice president of marketing. “Every day I know what my goal is.”
For employers, the main drawback for pedometers is cost. Though these devices can be found at nearly every price level, reliable and accurate ones that allow users to upload their walking activity to their computers usually cost about $25. Virgin HealthMiles created its own $26 pedometer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Heinz offers Pittsburgh workers a buyout if they are unhappy
- Programs help to nudge unemployment among veterans downward
- Koppers to acquire 2 Buffalo-based Osmose units for $460M
- Stocks seesaw, end higher for 2nd day
- Subway: ‘Yoga mat chemical’ almost out of bread
- Twitter buys data analytics partner
- Coca-Cola revenue up, but soda sales dip
- Google files patent for camera embedded in contact lens