Faculty and staff invited to participate in Healthy U program

Faculty+and+staff+invited+to+participate+in+Healthy+U+program

The faculty and staff at Mercer University have the opportunity to take part in a Healthy U program. The Healthy U program is an incentive, point based program in which the employees are rewarded with points that are kept up through the course of the year.
The employees are able to pick between two different incentive tracks. One track allows for the employee to have two days off from work. The other track can earn an employee a possible $500 credit on their Mercer health care plan.
In order for the employee to be qualified to get the two days off they must receive a total of at least 960 points over the year. The amount of points needed to receive the credit on the employee’s health care plan is 600-1,000.
Employees are able to receive these Healthy U points by going to the University Center and working out. An employee gets five points for working out on their own in the gym and seven for going to a group fitness class.
Melissa Mashburn, who has been participating in the Healthy U program since it began in the summer of 2011, said, “I have found the Healthy U program to be a great way to keep myself going to the gym. Having classes that are spread out during the day also really helps employees with different schedules be able to attend the classes that works best for them.”
The University Center has group fitness classes Monday through Friday. The classes that are currently offered are: Complete Cardio, Body Combat, Zumba, Body Sculpt, Aqua Aerobics, Strength and Conditioning, Kickboxing and Yoga.
Jennifer Tillery, who works in the Tarver Library, said, “I am someone who works out regularly and the Healthy U program has helped me on those days when I don’t feel like walking up those steps to the gym. Knowing that I can earn points towards having a day off really helps me get to the gym on those days.”
The classes are designed to help promote a healthy lifestyle for employees. The focus is on physical and mental health. The program promotes shedding pounds but also deals in areas of stress relief.
Businesses use incentive based programs for their employees in hopes of cutting down the costs of health insurance. Programs like these allow for companies to increase productivity because their employees are healthier and miss fewer days of work.
Employee Wellness director Rachel Long said, “Almost all companies who have more than 1,000 employees have wellness or some form of a wellness program.”
“Companies are seeing health insurance rates go up by six to seven percent every year and these are unsustainable rates. Which is why so many companies have been creating wellness programs to attempt to offset those costs,” said Long.
Health incentive programs are becoming a popular trend among many companies, but getting the employees to take part can prove to be a challenge for any company. On average companies often only get 25% of employees to participate.
Even when there are high incentives, getting people to take part in the program is difficult to do. Some universities offer their employees and their families up to $600 just for participating in the programs and don’t have to even meet requirements, but even these programs have a hard time bringing in participants.
As a result of this trend there have been companies who have tried having health standards that employees must meet. This has resulted in some lawsuits due to lifestyle laws. These lifestyle laws can protect people’s rights by claiming that what a person does outside of work is their own business. If they want to smoke cigarettes that is their choice.
Not all states have the same lifestyle laws. Georgia, for example, does not have a law that would prohibit a health standard from being created for a company. Mercer, however, has no plans to implement such a requirement. Mercer believes in encouraging good health habits but not forcing them onto their employees.
On April 27 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. the school will be having its annual Benefits Fair. This allows for a time in which the employees can look at their current health and insurance plan and make adjustments according to what they want. Vendors who are associated with Mercer will also be at the fair.
Employee Wellness will be offering health screenings, blood pressure, glucose, body mass index and body fat testing. Speakers will also be doing 15-20 minutes speeches on different health topics. A stress clinic and CPR training through Middle Georgia Ambulance will be provided as well.
The conference is meant to be an interactive and informative experience for the employees. Lunch will be provided and employees can stop by at anytime during the fair. The fair is reserved mainly for employees because it is for the open enrollment of employees.
Students will have the opportunity to volunteer at the fair for Employee Wellness.
Any student who is interested in volunteering for the fair can contact Rachel Long at Employee Wellness to find out out how they can serve.