Contact: Meghan Bell
Stew Leonard’s Bucks Health Care Trends with Health & Wellness Program
Norwalk, Conn. – April 24, 2018 – With healthcare costs on the rise for both businesses and individuals, Stew Leonard’s began an internal campaign – dubbed the Health & Wellness Program – in 2011 to educate their Team Members about healthy lifestyle choices, making wise financial decisions when it came to healthcare providers, and the importance of preventative care. Over the past seven years, the program has not only contained health care costs but has also resulted in positive health benefits and increased morale for the company overall.
“Our Health and Wellness program has been a great way for us to keep our Team Members healthy while also controlling costs,” notes Jill Leonard Tavello, daughter of store founder Stew Leonard Sr. and the company’s EVP of Culture and Communications. “Stew Leonard’s culture of well-being is really valued by our Team Members. They report that the Health and Wellness Program has been easy to use, they appreciate the out of pocket savings and enjoy encouraging each other to pursue healthy lifestyles.”
Stew Leonard’s healthcare care cost per Team Member in the past five years has increased an average of .6% as compared to annual medical trends of 6.6%. Additional Health & Wellness Program results include:
• Physical completion rate increased from 23% to 85%
• Emergency Room visits decreased 70% from 2009 to 2016
• Preventive care utilization increased to 14% above carrier benchmark
• 91% of Team Members have completed their Health Risk Assessment
But to achieve these results, the company first had to educate, communicate, and motivate Team Members to take an active roll in their health and wellness choices.
Stew Leonard’s took the first step of teaching their Team Members to shop for quality, cost-effective care. Just as anyone would shop around for the best price on a new car or a new TV, Stew’s Shopping for Healthcare classes, which are open to Team Members and their spouses, were put in place to show the out of pocket savings that can be achieved with some time and research. To this end, the company identified Centers of Value, which are freestanding outpatient facilities that are more cost effective than hospitals (plus are recognized for quality) for procedures such as colonoscopies, mammograms, and MRIs, as well as Centers of Excellence, which are for select inpatient hospital procedures. Team Members were also educated on the cost of an emergency room visit versus a walk-in clinic (for non-emergency care); a visit to the walk-in would cost under $200 while an emergency room visit would cost more than $2,000.
Stew Leonard’s has a diverse workforce of more than 2,500 Team Members spread out between stores in Connecticut, Westchester County and Long Island. All healthcare communication was designed to be timely, clear, and concise – as well as available in multiple languages – so that Team Members and their families could understand the company’s health care directive. Stew Leonard’s also hosts frequent wellness and safety fairs, publishes a wellness newsletter, and employs an on-site nurse practitioner as a resource.
Team Members are encouraged to share their health and wellness success stories through articles in the company’s bi-monthly publication, Stew’s News, posters in the Team Member cafeteria, and even through short videos that are posted on the company’s intranet site. Success stories include how individuals saved money on knee replacements by having the procedure done at a designated Center of Excellence, how an annual mammogram helped to detect breast cancer in an early stage, and how working with the company’s on-site nurse helped to manage a chronic condition. Health and Wellness events at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Conn. are also now included in Stew Leonard’s management training programs so that healthy choices and activities can be communicated from managers to their teams.
To further improve the health of Stew Leonard’s Team Members, several fun and interactive programs were designed. For example, Stew Leonard’s offered Team Members the opportunity to purchase a Fitbit for a reduced price; if the Team Member averaged 8,065 steps per day, they were able to keep the Fitbit for that price. A company-wide Fitbit challenge ensued, with 225 Team Members participating over the summer of 2017, resulting in 250,000 steps in July and 250,000 steps in August and 89% of all participating Team Members reaching their goal. For additional motivation, each week there was a mini-challenge and whoever met that goal was entered into a raffle for a $25 gift card. Participants in the Fitbit program reported 58% had reduced stress/anxiety, 44% were sleeping better, 35% lost weight, and 9% lowered blood pressure.
Several programs are also offered to Team Members right at the store to make it as easy as possible to make their health and wellness a priority. Mammograms are performed by St. Vincent’s Hospital mobile mammography unit and there are on-site physicals, flu vaccinations, and fitness classes. Stew Leonard’s also offers a value-based health benefits to Team Members, including Weight Watchers and smoking cessation reimbursements, generic prescription reimbursements, and the chance to earn up to $1,000 towards the Team Member’s insurance deductible if they complete their physical examination and Health Risk Assessment. Stew Leonard’s Recreation Association also plans physical activities like skiing, softball, kayaking, and rock climbing.
About Stew Leonard’s
Stew Leonard’s, a family-owned and operated fresh food store founded in 1969, has six stores in Norwalk, Danbury, and Newington, Conn. and in East Meadow, Farmingdale and Yonkers, N.Y. Stew’s earned its nickname, the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” because of its country-fair atmosphere, with costumed characters and animated entertainment throughout the store that keep children entertained while parents shop. Stew Leonard’s legion of loyal shoppers is largely due to the stores’ passionate approach to customer service: “Rule #1 — The Customer is Always Right”; Rule #2 – If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Re-Read Rule #1.” This principle is so essential to the foundation of the company that it is etched in a three-ton granite rock at each store’s entrance. The company’s culture is built around an acronym for S.T.E.W.: Satisfy the customer; Teamwork gets it done; Excellence makes it better; WOW makes it fun. For more information, visit Stew Leonard’s website at www.stewleonards.com.
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