Third Annual Statewide Wellness Competition Awards Announced

WOWIEs draw increased competition from 40 companies

Companies demonstrate employee wellness programs save money/health care costs 

OAK BROOK TERRACE, Ill., Aug. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Seven Illinois companies, divided into two categories, were recognized today for their excellent employee wellness programs that demonstrated savings in health insurance premiums and improvement in employee productivity. The award competition, called the WOWIEs, is an annual competition sponsored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and the Illinois State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management.

The WOWIE award recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees and strive to create a work culture that promotes physical activity. Awards were presented at ILSRHM's 13th Annual Human Resources Conference and Exposition held at Drury Lane in Oak Brook Terrace, Ill.

Winners in the More than 200 Employees category are:
Platinum: Rockford Park District, Rockford, Ill.
Gold: State Farm Insurance, Bloomington, Ill.
Silver (tie) Advocate Health Care, Oak Brook, Ill.
Country Financial, Bloomington, Ill.

Under 200 Employees:
Platinum: Alper Services LLC, Chicago
Gold: GFX International, Grayslake, Ill.
Silver: Robinson Engineering, South Holland, Ill.

Highlights of the Over 200 Employee Category winning entries included:

  • Platinum winner Rockford Park District's 2012 First quarter health care costs are two thirds the costs of its 2011 tab, owing to its commitment to an employee-wide wellness program that included commitment to weight loss and exercise.
  • State Farm's Tobacco cessation program, Quit For Life®, was implemented in 2008. For every dollar spent on the program, the insurer now realizes a $7.76 savings. Based on our 2011 Wellness Assessment results, State Farm realized a 4.7% positive net change in employee health risk status.
  • Silver Winner Country Financial touted a second straight year without a health insurance premium increase, attributed to its comprehensive wellness initiative, Live Well Work Well (LWWW).
  • Advocate Health Care's Healthe program documented decreased depression, improved physical activity, improved skin protection and reduced smoking rates among the nearly 40 percent of employees who participated. In its weight loss tracking, Advocate employees lost a combined 16,519 pounds!

Among employers with under 200 employees, Alper Services LLC, a 44-employee insurance broker in Chicago, experienced a huge success with its employee wellness program with an 81 percent of employees using the program, up from 61 percent in 2010 and 43 percent of its employees lost weight and 66 percent of its employees improved their exercise capacity and frequency of exercise.

GFX International, a design & execution firm for retail communication in Grayslake, Ill., hosted a Biggest Loser Challenge, in which 44 employees lost a total of 287.6 pounds in 12 weeks. This program, along with other measures and health efforts resulted in health care premiums without an increase over 2011 rates.

South Holland, Ill-based civil engineering firm Robinson Engineering—the 2011 WOWIE Winner, realized a 10 to 1 return on investment for its employee wellness program, which has been in place since 2007.

"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," Rogers said.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois