Friday, February 15, 2008

Case study

You know, I've read lots of articles and heard many an announcer going on about how organizations have realized major cost savings by adopting a more active corporate lifestyle. Just Google the topic and you're presented with thousands of case studies outlining countless programs developed by employers encouraging regular, physical activity; programs that have led to healthy employees and even healthier bottom lines. Our little public transit operation in Canada's far east, may be the latest such case study.

As a business graduate, the term "case study" conjures up frightening memories of blurry-eyed all-nighters spent in front of a monochrome screen, typing countless pages of bla bla, convinced that my grade would be based on the weight and not the content of what I submitted - this case study, however, is a little different. Like all good case studies, I have to give you the background to make you familiar with the "case" part, so here goes.

In late December 2006, most of the non-union employees in our organization got together and planned to form a lunch-time running club in the new year that was approaching. We were not runners and many of us had very little physical activity in our lives; hardly the model group, or perhaps the perfect one, to be forming such a club. We started out by setting a couple of goals for ourselves - the first to run a 5-K road race by April and the second to run a 10-miler by July. Formal training started during the first week of January with some twenty minute walking sessions. Over the weeks that followed, and while training continued, we designed a website and established a regular newsletter. To make a long story short, we reached all of our running goals by the end of July and continued to train for more races throughout the remainder of 2007. Today, the group is training for a Half Marathon taking place in May of this year.

Now for the "study" part:

My boss walks into my office today and tells me she has something that should be included in our next Club newsletter. She went on to tell me that during a recent meeting with our firm's group benefits plan consultant, we were advised that our non-union prescription drug plan usage dropped 43 per cent in 2007. I'm not a numbers guy; I usually start to gloss over soon after the first instance terms like "percent" or "dollars" are spoken, but this was a statistic that grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go. Like my boss said, it would be difficult to determine exactly what led to such a decrease, but it's awfully coincidental that in a year that most of us "got healthier" our use of the health plan benefits dipped dramatically.

I think we all deserve a pat on the back for this accomplishment and I extend a thank you to our employer for being a big supporter of our Running Club. So here's to us - well done gang!

Now that's a nice way to end the week.

1 comment:

Bev said...

Wow, what an accomplishment for all of us!! I can honestly say, in the beginning I really battled with questioning my ability to participate in such a group. I remember our first road trip while we were crossing Freshwater Road to Anderson Avenue and thinking, oh my God I hope I can do this. Today, I feel a great sense of accomplishment in what I (we) have completed in the past year together. As each day passes I feel more and more excited about the next challenge we will all participate in, once again together. As described in this latest article "we all got healthier", and it's quite obvious the health benefits for each member of the group is not only within them, but is very likely reflected in the latest stats concerning our prescription usage. The overall benefits we've experienced combined with the fun we've had in the past year has been quite the adventure that I'm sure we'll never forget, with many more special moments to share in the coming months. Congratulations to each member in the Running Club, and especially to our leader and employer whose support is never ending. We really do have so much to celebrate - look out Halifax!!