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Six weeks, 370 million steps

New CMU employee wellness program builds on culture of health

Contact: CMU News

Little black devices have logged more than 370 million steps taken by Central Michigan University employees and their spouses since July 1 and are quickly becoming part of the university’s culture of health.

More than 1,250 CMU employees — 65 percent of those eligible — enrolled in the university’s new employee wellness program through Virgin Pulse, which allows participants to earn rewards for being healthy and active.

Those who enrolled received the activity-tracking devices, called Max, with which they are averaging 7,500 steps — nearly four miles — a day.

Employees’ spouses and other eligible individuals enrolled in CMU health coverage also are eligible to participate, and more than 40 percent have joined.

“We’ve broken all wellness program enrollment records we’ve historically held, and we’ve also surpassed many Virgin Pulse benchmarks,” said Tammy Griffin, CMU’s manager of employee health and wellness. “Seventy percent of enrolled employees are actively engaging in this new program.”

Virgin Pulse registration benchmarks for the first three months are 50 percent for employees and 20 percent for spouses and other eligible individuals.

“I have already seen this program make people more mindful of what they eat and how active or inactive they are, and they’re finding ways to change unhealthy patterns,” said CMU employee Cherie Kunkel. “The online platform also helps us communicate and motivate each other.”

Participants use the Max, along with an online dashboard and digital tools, to manage their health activities. Points are earned not only for physical activity, but also for efforts that make employees healthier, such as eating well, drinking water, tracking calorie intake, sleeping more and managing stress. Points can then be redeemed for rewards such as cash and gift cards.

“CMU has revamped its wellness initiative to give even greater support to employees pursuing healthy lifestyles,” said Patty Tatham, CMU’s director of benefits and wellness. “It is about total wellness and sustaining healthy behaviors; our employees have access to programs and tools that start with healthy behavior changes and expand to total quality of life.” 

CMU was named a finalist in the 2013 Michigan’s Healthiest Employers program, presented by Crain’s Detroit Business, MiBiz and Priority Health.

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