Illinois Companies Honored for Outstanding Workplace Wellness Programs

Second Annual WOWIE Awards recognizes cost effective health programs

CHICAGO, Aug. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Legislators and health care policy experts might consider talking to the 2011 WOWIE Award winners to view for themselves the power of effective employee wellness programs in reducing health care costs and improving employee wellness and productivity.

Six Illinois companies have been honored with the Second Annual WOWIE Award, sponsored by The Illinois State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management (ISC-SHRM) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL). The WOWIE award recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees and strive to create a work culture that promotes physical activity.

Awards will be presented at the 2011 12th Annual Illinois HR Conference & Exposition on Tuesday, August 23rd at Drury Lane, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

Applications were divided into two categories: "Companies with More than 200 Employees," and "Companies with Fewer Than 200 Employees." Three awards were given in each of the following categories: Platinum, Gold and Silver.

Recipients include:

Companies with More Than 200 Employees


State Farm Insurance, Bloomington, Ill.


CDW, Inc., Vernon Hills, Ill.


Provena Health System, Mokena, Ill.

Companies with Fewer Than 200 Employees


Robinson Engineering, South Holland, Ill.


Alper Services LLC, Chicago


Advanced Rehab, Bloomington, Ill.

State Farm developed its own wellness program called "Live Well, Be Well" and incorporated it into the State Farm philosophy.

"Our Live Well, Be Well initiative encourages employees to make informed lifestyle decisions in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation and preventive screenings," said Sheri Gatto, wellness coordinator at State Farm.  

"We made a business case for our wellness initiative and sought buy-in from our executive team in 2007," Gatto said. In 2008, State Farm hired Gatto to develop and oversee the program and she now works with a steering committee that provides input for her and a team of occupational health nurses and wellness ambassadors who work to promote Live Well, Be Well initiatives in State Farm's operational sites throughout the country.

One of the strengths of the Live Well, Be Well program is its communications strategy, Gatto said.

"We have a number of ways to deliver wellness messages to our employees," she said.   Employees receive letters from the company's medical director as well as emails with wellness messages and information.  State Farm is also committed to new media, with a "Live Well, Be Well" website, Intranet and blog that feature positive stories of employees improving their own health and fitness.

State Farm conducts an annual review of its aggregate employee health plan medical claims data to determine areas of focus and measure the program's effectiveness.

"Last year, more than 29,000 employees completed a wellness assessment and knew their cholesterol and blood pressure," said Dr. Stephen Kindred, medical director and assistant vice president of Human Resources. "We have seen a significant increase in the number of employees who are going to a primary care doctor and utilizing their health plan's preventive care benefits.

South Holland, Ill.-based Robinson Engineering was not only one of the first companies to ever receive this honor, they are the only company to repeat its 2010 WOWIE Award win with another first-place, Platinum Award in the "200 Employees or Fewer" category with its "Robinson Employee Wellness Program."  Robinson Engineering is a professional civil engineering firm that has been providing services in the Chicago area for nearly 75 years.

According to Denise St. Pierre, director of Organizational Development at Robinson, the company added some new initiatives in 2011.

"We most recently participated in the 100-day challenge through a 12-month grant that focuses on wellness in the workplace, awarded  by  the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, 'Live Healthy America – Chicago 100 Day Challenge,' consisting of  eight Robinson teams (an employee participation rate of 67%)," she said.  Robinson has also participated in the Virgin HealthMiles pedometer program where 51% of its employees participated.

St. Pierre said that one of the company's greatest fitness and health achievements was realized when 60 percent of its employees participated in the Biggest Improver contest, a 100-day challenge that focused on making healthier food choices and increasing activity.

"Our employees reduced their BMI 4% per person and body fat decreased by 11 percent on average per person," she said.

In addition to the 2010 and 2011 WOWIE Awards, Robinson was also named one of the 100 healthiest companies in America by Interactive Health Solutions and Robinson has been recognized at the platinum level for wellness the last two years and received a Worksite Innovation Award in 2011 by the American Heart Association.

"More and more employers and human resources professionals have come to realize that employee wellness programs are excellent ways to promote positive health care behaviors and create more productive workers and employees," said Donna Rogers, director of ISC-SHRM.

"These companies have reduced health care costs, increased participation in their wellness programs and improved their employee's health," said Rogers. "Truly, these winning companies have hit a grand slam in executing employee wellness programs, and I look forward to presenting them with their awards in August."

Winners will be honored at the ISC-SHRM annual meeting on August 23rd in Oak Brook Terrace, Ill.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
With more than 7 million members, BCBSIL, a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, is the largest health insurance company in Illinois. Started in 1936, BCBSIL is committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and its communities through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care. BCBSIL is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

For more information, visit ISC-SHRM on the web at

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois