Custom Alarm reduces absenteeism and keeps insurance premiums flat

 

Custom Alarm employees prepare for a team walking event

Rochester-based Custom Alarm has been a pioneer in workplace wellness since CEO Leigh Johnson banned smoking inside his plant more than 30 years. And over the years it has paid tangible dividends. The company didn’t experience an increase in insurance premium last year and doesn’t expect one this year either.

To help their 70 employees eat healthy at work, Custom Alarms’ executives offer healthy options at employee events. They replaced vending machines with a refrigerator full of healthy snacks like yogurt, fruit and string cheese that employees purchase on the honor system. Competitions help employees stay active and achieve a healthy weight. For the company’s Biggest Loser campaign participants paid a dollar towards the winner’s pot for each pound they gained.


“It’s not a quick weight loss (competition), we just feel it’s healthier to lose that weight over a long period of time,” says HR Manager Dawn Rainey.  Over the 2010 and 2011 challenges, Custom Alarm employees lost a total of 377 pounds during the 18-week competitions.

Custom Alarm recently expanded its tobacco free policy to the outdoors of their workplace grounds, company vehicles and even employee visits to client facilities.

The tobacco policies help employees quit smoking, one of the goals of Custom Alarm’s employee wellness program. After all, according to the American Cancer Society, just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, heart and blood pressure drop. As months and years of not smoking accumulate, a former smoker’s risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer decrease.

To help tobacco users prepare for the change, Custom Alarm’s wellness committee announced the tobacco-free grounds policy six months before the planned implementation.

“Initially there was a little bit of buzz around the office about us trying to control their lives,” says Rainey. “But that blew over pretty quickly. I would say we had more positive feedback, from our nonsmokers.”

Custom Alarm employees can now open the windows in their lunchroom and conference room areas without cigarette smoke wafting in from outside. “It just wasn’t very pleasant,” added Rainey.

The company’s wellness activities have also brought on a significant reduction in absenteeism. Custom Alarm uses its annual associate appreciation event to present “well-pay” bonus checks to employees who accrue more than 120 hours of sick time. “We’ve steadily seen increasing numbers,” Rainey says. That’s an increase in the number of employees receiving the bonus as well as the number of hours they’ve earned.

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