BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 07/16/12 -- Social relationships play a tremendous role in our health. And employees agree. According to a survey released in June by Virgin HealthMiles, 56% of employees agree that peers provide motivation and helpful support with health improvement efforts. And 55% agree that sharing information about progress with peers helps them remain accountable for their success. During June's 4th annual National Employee Wellness Month, more than 65,000 employees representing leading U.S. companies brought those data points to life. These employees motivated each other and spurred one another on during the annual three-week physical activity-based challenge. Together, these employees took more than 12 billion total steps -- the equivalent of 6 million miles or 750 times the distance traveled by the 2012 Summer Olympics torch on its way to London.
National Employee Wellness Month has proven to be a key U.S. initiative that provides business leaders with fresh ideas and proven strategies around prevention and good health. It offers a hands-on look at how supportive social communities like the workplace can improve employee health and productivity, lower healthcare costs, and help organizations create a positive culture of health. This year, more than 140 organizations including Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin, MeadWestvaco, Norfolk Southern, PVH Corp. and SunTrust lent their support to National Employee Wellness Month. Created in 2009 by Virgin HealthMiles in partnership with the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, this year's initiative was also sponsored by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and WorldatWork.
"This year's National Employee Wellness Month supporters and participants truly came together and promoted a culture of good health," commented Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "By emphasizing prevention and healthy lifestyles, companies have the power to curb rising healthcare costs and create healthier, more productive workforces. We congratulate all the organizations and their employees who participated in this year's initiative. And to AGCO and Fyda Freightliner: well done! You're leading by example and showing just how important the workplace is in helping people change and sustain healthy behaviors."
About the Challenge Winners:
Minnesota-based AGCO, Your Agriculture Company (NYSE: AGCO), a global leader focused on the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery, topped the leaderboard in this year's "Health Stars" division. And for the fourth consecutive year, Ohio and Pennsylvania-based freightliner dealership, Fyda Freightliner, came out atop the "Wellness Warrior" division. To celebrate these first place finishes, Virgin HealthMiles will award each company a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
AGCO employees averaged 10,792 steps, or more than five miles, per participant per day during the three-week challenge. "Having motivated and productive employees is a corporate priority," said Lucinda Smith - SVP, Human Resources at AGCO. "Thanks to our health program, our employees are losing weight, lowering their blood pressure and having other health successes. Everyone was excited about the National Employee Wellness Month challenge and wanted to win. We had some stiff competition from other companies in our division, but we saw a lot of social activity from our employees, encouraging each other to keep moving."
Fyda Freightliner employees averaged 12,143 steps, or more than six miles, per participant per day. "It's critical for us to contain healthcare costs, so we've stepped up our corporate wellness strategies for the past five years," said Patty DePaola, controller of Fyda Freightliner. "Participating in National Employee Wellness Month keeps wellness top of mind for everyone and motivates our employees to do a bit more than they might have otherwise. And because the competition is social, you're not only pushing for yourself, you're doing it for your co-workers, too."
To see the top ten teams in each division of the 2012 National Employee Wellness Month Challenge, visit: http://www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com/the-challenge/.
About Virgin HealthMiles
Virgin HealthMiles, part of Sir Richard Branson's famed Virgin Group, provides programs and technologies that engage your workforce in good health. Leveraging Virgin's deep consumer roots, we create compelling, personalized digital health experiences that drive long-term healthy behavior change and employee engagement rates more than three times the industry average. Our range of Pay-for-Prevention solutions and program integration capabilities: drive higher awareness and engagement across multiple providers and programs; deliver better measurement and insight into the impact of your investments; and power your overall employee health strategy. Our easy-to-deploy and manage solutions feature a rich array of proven behavior change strategies, including: game mechanics, financial incentives, social networking, and many more. Over 130 industry leaders representing more than 700,000 employees have selected Virgin HealthMiles' award-winning programs for their employees. Learn more at www.virginhealthmiles.com.