Meet them halfway Featured

10:01am EDT July 22, 2002

OHIC Insurance Co. offers a boost to employees making healthy resolutions, regardless of whether it’s the New Year.

The company pays half the cost, up to $250 a year, per employee for memberships in health clubs and weight reduction, smoking cessation or other wellness programs.

That investment, about $8,000 a year, seems to work, says company President Tim Wiechers. More than half of the 82 employees at the company’s downtown office and Dublin subsidiary, CCI Admin Inc., take advantage of the perk.

Employees have even found bargains. Programmer analyst Tod Jervey, for example, joined the YWCA Health & Fitness Center downtown and learned of its “Fitness for Free” week, during which all employees could use the facilities without charge. All OHIC employees, then, became eligible for a $35 off annual corporate membership discount when they joined. The YWCA also offers free help—in the form of pre-written e-mail messages, newsletter articles, payroll stuffers and mailbox fliers—to companies that want to promote fitness among employees, says fitness director Char Christensen.

OHIC promotes its own benefits, which Wiechers says are designed to help employees feel better and thus work better, through monthly newsletters, employee orientations and wellness programs.

“If our sole purpose was to do it just to see a huge decrease in health care costs, we probably wouldn’t be doing it,” Wiechers says. “We’re doing it not only for recruitment and retention, but for peace of mind for the employees.”