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Jan 22, 201308:41 AMSmart Sustainable Biz

with Jessie Lerner

Johnson Health Tech takes its employees’ health to heart, and it pays off

Johnson Health Tech takes its employees’ health to heart, and it pays off

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Okay, I say “sustainability” and you say … “recycling?” “fluorescent light bulbs?” Andrea Stankard, senior human resources generalist at Johnson Health Tech, says “employee wellness.”

Over the past five years, the company has had an incredibly small 3.2% increase in employer health insurance costs, compared to an average 41% increase for south central Wisconsin businesses. It’s staggering.

Andrea Stankard is happy, for good reason. She says, “When you work in HR, hearing numbers like those makes your heart jump,” and she recounts recent years of 0% and even negative increases in employer health insurance costs.

Stankard has a lot to smile about; she coordinates the highly successful employee health and wellness programs at JHT’s North America (JHTNA) office in Cottage Grove. Starting off as a directive from the company’s president as “the right thing to do,” JHTNA’s effort to incorporate employee health and wellness into its overall sustainability plan has produced tangible results that are contributing significantly to the company’s bottom line.

Leading Wisconsin businesses like Johnson Health Tech are beginning to connect the dots between employee wellness and corporate success. By taking a proactive approach and encouraging their employees to be healthy and active, employers can mitigate rising health care costs, heighten employee productivity, and attract and retain top talent.

At JHTNA, Andrea Stankard is doing this – and it accounts for a mere 5% of her job description.

“When I started at JHTNA, no one was doing wellness,” says Stankard. However, that small investment has paid off. Today, JHTNA employees rank the company’s health and wellness programs as the number one employee benefit, and in exit surveys, they say they’re what they’ll miss the most. Stankard connects this information to the company’s below-average turnover rate and high employee engagement.

“Healthy employees are productive employees,” she says.

For companies looking to replicate JHTNA’s success in employee health and wellness, Stankard points to resources like the Wellness Council of Wisconsin. She also shares her own advice and lessons learned at JHTNA.

“First, find out what resonates with your employees, what type of programs they want to see,” she says. Employees are more likely to engage in activities that interest them, rather than ones that feel like mandates or extra work. At JHTNA, Stankard dialogues regularly with colleagues and circulates surveys to collect feedback – a process that has helped to achieve an 85% employee participation rate.

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