Healthy You Augments Insurance
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
In 2010, Boston College’s Human Resources department partnered with several schools in the area to develop a way to help their employees’ moderate healthcare with rising costs. BC paired with Tufts, Boston University, Harvard, and several other schools to benefit University staff.
At BC, the Human Resources department partnered with the Flynn Recreation Complex and Harvard Pilgrim Medical Insurance to develop a wellness program to make employees aware of the resources available on campus and to help them create healthier lifestyles. The program is called Healthy You, and has been growing extensively with employees in the past three years.
Healthy You, which is an entirely voluntary and confidential program, focuses on helping BC staff members and their spouses manage and maintain their health. In past years, Healthy You has offered an optional questionnaire for employees to take, consultation with a health coach on campus to help focus areas of concern for individuals, and is continuing to expand with other programs.
The first year the questionnaire was offered, 2,000 employees and their spouses participated. The questionnaire, which is offered through Harvard Pilgrim, is designed to help people become aware of their “numbers,” like cholesterol and blood pressure, and concentrate on problem areas. The option of providing health care coaches, established in 2011, has also encouraged employees to manage their health knowledgably and responsibly.
This year, Healthy You plans on focusing on getting associates active. Robert Lewis, associate vice president for human resources, commented that they were prompted to inspire an active lifestyle because studies show that as people age the key to remaining healthy is physical fitness.
This fall, the Walk Across Campus joined with Healthy You to start a friendly competition that encourages teams of employees to be more active. Forty-five teams comprised of about 10 staff members will compete in a nine-week contest monitoring fitness progression through Fitbits.
Fitbits are high-tech pedometers that are designed to track how many miles an individual walks, how manycalories they burn, and even how many flights of stairs they walk. Day to day achievements are displayed by a flower graphic, which grows each day as more progress is made. Individuals can wear a Fitbit while they walk or run, but they can also log how much time they spend doing different activities, such as swimming, on the Fitbit website. Fitbit also sends messages of encouragement via email, congratulating walkers on taking 10,000 steps in a day and inspiring them to walk more tomorrow.
Caitriona Taylor, director of campus recreation, commented that the competition aspect is getting more employees excited about being active. “Being a part of a team encourages people,” Taylor said. “It gives people more incentive to be active, but also to help each other out.”
Although prizes for winning teams have not yet been announced, categories such as teams with outstanding progress in their fitness and teams with “the most steps walked” have been discussed as options.
Taylor also said that the 45 team leaders have been a large factor in the encouragement of employees. In the spirit of the Ignatian tradition of men and women for others, the creation of these Walk Across Campus teams have encouraged less-fit people to become active, and recognize those in the community who are dedicated to their health and helping other people with their wellness.
Both Lewis and Taylor mentioned that this year’s Walk Across Campus, as well as Healthy You in general, have exceeded their expectations. With kick-off walks which started last week and plans for closing ceremonies, Walk Across Campus has more participants competing than in many years prior.