No. 1 among companies employing 5-100
Premium content from Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal – by Rachel Keranen, Staff Writer
The biggest losers at Apex Print Technologies are some of the company’s most successful employees — at least in regard to their health. Together they’ve shed pounds, smoking habits and unhealthy behaviors.
The company’s focus on wellness began with CEO Brian Kueppers’ smoking cessation incentives. After a close relative was diagnosed with lung cancer, Kueppers offered any employee who would quit smoking for three months a $200 reward, plus the cost of aids used in the process.
When employees asked for a program to support weight loss, Apex began a “Biggest Loser”-style competition. As in the reality TV show, 20 employees divided into two teams with weekly weigh-ins to track their progress as individuals and teams.
Three months later, and nearly 400 pounds lighter, the employees found themselves working out more and suggesting healthier foods for company vending machines. They’ve asked Apex for support to help maintain their new physiques, while also expressing their gratitude for the company’s wellness promotion.
“They’ve thanked us time and time again for having the opportunity to be a part of this,” said Amy Hooley, Apex human resources manager. “I’ve had employees say, ‘I don’t think I could have or would have done this on my own.’ ”
In the company’s Green Bay, Wis., LaserNet Inc. subsidiary, employees embark on an annual 12-week, 10,000 steps challenge. This year, 20 of 29 employees are sporting Apex-provided pedometers as they track daily steps, water intake, fruits and vegetable consumption and the number of healthy recipes tried to win Visa gift cards.
The next steps are developing a more formal wellness committee and increasing personal accountability, Hooley said. She’s already brought in a HealthPartners Inc. representative to show employees how to use the insurer’s website to access a wealth of health information.
“Wellness is multifaceted,” Hooley said. “It’s not just weight. It’s not just exercise. It’s taking care of yourself.”