Headquartered in Ottawa, IL Owners: Luke Caruso Sr., Luke Caruso Jr. and Jim Caruso 130 employees across three locations If you’re at an industry meeting and meet a group of people with blinking...See more lights on their shoes, chances are they work at Ottawa Dental Laboratory (ODL). That blinking light would be an Actiped pedometer, a component of the laboratory’s comprehensive wellness program, which earned ODL recognition as one of the 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America for 2014, as well as the Healthiest Employer in Illinois for 2012 and 2013. In 2004—after a string of double-digit increases in health insurance premiums—the laboratory developed a wellness program, which now includes on-site voluntary health screenings and incentive points for making healthy choices like exercise or annual physicals. The points can then be redeemed for a variety of items including movie tickets, hotel stays, digital cameras and TVs. A cornerstone of the activity part of the program is the Actiped pedometer, which uploads data automatically to employees’ personal profiles so they can easily check the steps they’ve walked, distance covered and calories burned. Many employees are part of a team—with names like Carb Crunchers and Cardio Crew—that competes with other teams to earn incentive points for the highest daily step averages. A decade after the program’s implementation, health insurance premium costs are down—even lower than they were in 2004 and productivity and attendance are up. Just as importantly, employees are seeing the difference: the number of people with high blood pressure has declined from 47% to 18% and medication costs have been cut by a third. Morale is also up, and employees remain motivated by the program; in fact, this year, 98% of them participated in ODL’s annual health screening. “If you want to have good people, you have to take care of them,” says Joanie Bretag, Senior Vice President of Human Resources. “We receive a great deal of thanks from employees for helping them not only identify a health condition but also giving them tools and motivation to proactively address it.”
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