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Paying employees for healthy lifestyles helps trim premiums

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in HR Management,Human Resources

The city of Maple Grove, Minn., found a sure-fire way to convince its employees to adopt healthier lifestyles: It pays them to do it.

Since 1990, the city's Fit For Life program has awarded financial incentives to employees for wellness screenings for cancer, cholesterol and blood pressure, and for regular dental and eye exams. Employees also earn dollars for going to the gym, giving up caffeine and cigarettes and attending brown-bag seminars on health and fitness topics.

Employees earn points for each activity and cash them in at year-end for bonuses of up to $100. Those who earn above a certain threshold earn extra vacation days.

Costs/benefits: In one recent year, the city, which employs about 230 people, paid $6,655 to about 100 Fit For Life participants. It also granted 272 extra vacation hours to 32 employees.

In turn, the city saved $2.31 on its health premiums for every dollar it spent on wellness activities. Its wellness budget is about $14,000 a year.

In addition to in-house health fairs and exercise programs, the city hosts for its employees:

• A ‘Go Fish' lunch-hour walk that lured employees to hike around a quarter-mile walking trail. They stopped at checkpoints to collect prizes.

• Healthy recipe cook-off. Staffers whipped up their healthiest vegetable and dessert recipes for a cook-off. Employee judges awarded prizes.

Contact: Ann Marie Shandley, HR director, City of Maple Grove, Minn., at  

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