Wellness challenges, payouts encourage SDN employees to live healthy lives

Dec. 3, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by SDN Communications.

To encourage health and wellness throughout its workforce, SDN Communications used to reimburse its employees for gym memberships. But they’ve been doing something different for the past six years. Now, employees can earn a wellness bonus through voluntary, annual health screenings.

Employees can earn up to $750 each year based on results in six test categories. That includes their cholesterol ratio, blood pressure, a tobacco use/lung test and others.

“Employees appreciate it more when they can decide how to spend the money,” said Amy Preator, SDN’s director of human resources.

The company also encourages wellness among its employees by organizing fun, in-house competitions and by bringing in outside experts for presentations.

Joel James, Mike Riedel and Amanda Bormann are among the SDN employees who participate in confidential screenings. They appreciate the company’s emphasis on wellness.

Screening results provide an incentive to get healthier, said Riedel, a lead network operations data technician who has been with SDN for nine years. He admits to being competitive by nature. Annual screening results give him an incentive to improve, he said.

The free screenings also can help identify a potential health issue before it becomes a more serious problem, said James, manager of network operations. He has been with the company for 18 years and said they also can be eye-opening and motivate self-improvement.

“Once you get started, it’s hard to stop, especially when you’re making headway,” he said.

Bormann, an executive assistant, is the relative newbie of the trio, with two years of experience at SDN. During the past 16 years, she has worked for four employers in three states and loves working for SDN.

“I’m still honeymooning with SDN. I’m still having a love affair with this place – every last thing about it,” she said.

The company’s emphasis on wellness contributes to her high degree of satisfaction.

She participates in the company’s Maintain, Don’t Gain program, which gives employees an incentive to avoid gaining weight during the holiday season. Participants each contribute $5 to a pool and weigh in with Preator in late October. In early January, they weigh in again and compare results. The names of two successful weight maintainers are drawn, and they split the money.

Bormann is within 3 pounds of her goal weight right now. She said she’s self-motivated to stay slim and healthy, but the Maintain, Don’t Gain program provides an extra level of accountability.

During summer months, employees are encouraged to get together during breaks to walk, run, skate, blade or bike. A city recreational path runs near the company’s headquarters in west-central Sioux Falls. Participants log their miles all summer for the Wheels or No Wheels distance program and try to earn $20 gift cards at a sporting goods store or a free lunch.

In addition to boosting productivity, putting an emphasis on employee wellness can help a company attract and retain good employees, Preator said. Offering financial incentives to employees helps the company come out ahead in other ways too.

“We’re looking at any way we can to keep insurance premiums at an affordable rate,” Preator said. “Our insurance broker says that whatever we’re doing, keep it up. It’s showing up in the numbers.”

SDN’s emphasis on employee health helps it pay 75 percent of the cost of employee health insurance, including dental and vision coverage. That’s a great benefit.

In addition to being a potentially good financial benefit for everyone in the company, wellness incentives offer personal, intangible rewards.

“Getting exercise is like taking a happy pill,” Preator said.

That’s a benefit with a value that’s difficult to measure.

SDN Communications is a regional leader in providing broadband connectivity and cybersecurity services to businesses in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, Minn., and the surrounding areas.

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Wellness challenges, payouts encourage SDN employees to live healthy lives

When it comes to wellness, this company has a great story to tell: Employees are earning up to $750 extra each year, being more active and getting amazing health insurance.

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