Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small businesses, middle-market businesses, and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management, and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 49 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,000 retail banking offices and approximately 16,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users and more than 15 million mobile users. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. For more information, visit www.bankofamerica.com.
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Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions. With more than 200,000 American employees, the bank believes that there is a strong connection between the personal and professional wellbeing of its employees and the satisfaction of its customers, clients, and shareholders.
The company’s life management programs—such as flexible work arrangements, flexible schedules, supportive elder and child care family services, and paid time-away arrangements— demonstrate its commitment to helping employees effectively manage their family and work responsibilities.
In 2012, Bank of America expanded its focus on employee well-being by introducing wellness activities made up of two key components: a health screening that measures height, weight, blood pressure and waist circumference, and completion of a health risk assessment. To ensure employees had access to a health care professional for the health screening, the bank partnered with two of its health care partners—CVS/Caremark and Quest Diagnostics—to offer screening services at their respective facilities. Employees who opted for Quest’s Patient Service Center could schedule an appointment at their convenience and there was no charge for the screening. Additionally, if an employee had been to his or her doctor in the prior 12 months, he or she could use information and testing results from that visit. The health assessment was available online through the bank’s health plan partners and only took the employee an average of 16 minutes to complete. A paper version of the assessment was available for employees who did not have access to the web.
Employees who completed the wellness activities received a health profile and a set of recommendations for actions to address healthy lifestyle issues or goals. Employees found to be at high risk for a health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. received a proactive call from a “health case manager” from the bank’s health care plan administrator. The health case manager offers personalized guidance to the employee on applicable medical, diet, exercise, and other interventions.
As an incentive to complete the wellness activities, Bank of America gave employees who enrolled a $500 credit on annual health plan payroll contributions for 2013. The participation results were impressive: more than 162,000 employees completed the wellness activities within the five-month window after enrollment. And, more than 70,000 employees took action and engaged with a health coach or case manager for ongoing advice on making healthy choices and dealing with conditions.
As a direct result of the wellness assessment, the company identified some common health-and lifestyle-related concerns shared by its workforce. employees were concerned about not getting enough physical activity during the week, making poor diet choices, and coping with stress.
Following the success of the wellness activities, in 2013 the bank further increased its wellness focus in two key areas—launching an activity-based program and expanding the wellness activities.
To complement its wellness activities and to respond directly to employee feedback about getting engaged in more physical activity, the bank introduced Get Active! in October 2013. This voluntary program uses team-based activity challenges to help employees improve their overall health. Employees use the program’s website to log their steps or exercise minutes, view team standings, and show support for teammates. In the first eight-week challenge, participants could earn a reward by walking 56,000 steps/week, exercising 140 minutes/week, or tracking calorie intake. A remarkable 96,000 employees enrolled in this challenge, forming more than 11,000 teams—surpassing any initial expectations. And, the participation was not limited to just the employee base. Senior leaders were active participants and program champions. Progress of top teams was highlighted at divisional town halls, managers led by example by wearing their pedometers, teams were talked up at department meetings, and there was an overall healthy spirit of competition, collaboration, and fun. Even team names demonstrated the creativity and personalities of their members. Here are a few examples: Pedometer Monitors, Holy Walkamollies, CFO Cuts the Fat Out, Mission Slimpossible, Extreme BANKover: Weightloss Edition, The Young and the Rest of Us.
In the fall of 2013, CEO Brian Moynihan (who also participated in the challenge) announced that Bank of America employees had walked almost 21.5 billion steps; had lost close to 100,000 pounds and had exercised for about 1.4 million hours.
For Bank of America, proof of the success of Get Active! is in the stories that were reported via verbal anecdotes and written testimonials:
“Just wanted to share my joy and how thankful I am to Bank for opening a great way to lose that baby fat 🙂 This ‘Get Active’ program motivated me and helped me to lose 15 pounds (I was 174 and now I am 159 pounds). Hurray!! Now I feel more active…no knee pain or breathless and feel great…real rewards for being healthy.”
“It got me moving each day and realizing how much I missed exercising. This was the one event that I honestly can say has changed my attitude about fitness and I enjoyed every minute of it. I dropped five inches off of my waist and am walking a minimum of four miles each day. I feel the best I have in years!”
“Being 65, I was having a lot of pain in my knees. I have always been somewhat active, but never realize how 10,000 steps or more a day could play such an important part in my life. I even joined a Zumba class for additional exercise. My knees have improved tremendously. My office building has eight floors so I walk those steps every day—88 steps up and 88 steps down. I now look forward to walking the treadmill every day, and am averaging 35 minutes to an hour or more every day, and my steps are over 10,000 everyday.”
For 2014, the company’s wellness activities increased in scope to include a total cholesterol test, in addition to the height, weight, blood pressure, and waist circumference measurements. The company also offered a $500 credit toward annual health plan payroll contributions as an incentive for spouses and partners to complete the wellness activities. So, if an employee and his or her spouse or partner completed these activities, annual payroll contributions savings could total $1,000. The response to completing these 2014 wellness activities has continued to be positive with a completion rate of 83 percent for employees and 80 percent of spouses and partners—a total of 211,000 people who gained valuable insight into the status of their overall health.
As a way to help employees and their family members “do something” about what they have learned from the wellness activities, Get Active! was rolled out to employees and adult family members in April 2014. The company will expand program features in the future to include challenges that will award charitable donations for pounds lost, steps walked, etc.
Taking Wellness Global
Bank of America’s focus on wellness spans the globe. In the spring of 2014, the company piloted Get Active! with approximately 400 HR employees in the Asia Pacific region. The pilot provided valuable insight about employee perceptions of health and potential participation rates outside the United States. The bank plans to launch Get Active! in other global regions to help all employees understand how simple steps for better health can add up—no matter where they live or work.
Building programs around the identified needs of employees is an important foundational step. Employees want to get and stay healthy and are willing to take advantage of programs at work that help them do this. Incentives help, and champions and role models at the top are important. Engagement requires both old-fashioned face-to-face and written communication, as well as the effective use of new technology.
Key Take-aways for Other Employers
Employee health and wellness programs work well when there is visible and ongoing support from leadership and access to knowledgeable resources for guidance and motivation. Knowing and responding to the expressed needs and concerns of the workforce is the first and most important step in building a successful program.