New Balance Athletics believes in bringing better health to their associates. After all, they are a global company committed to helping people live a more healthy and active lifestyle.
The company, which has been innovating for more than a century, sought information about ways to lower healthcare costs and promote wellness for its associates. After doing research on the correlation between improved health and reductions in healthcare spend, the company began researching an onsite health center. “We want to ‘run the talk,'” says Glenn Haskell, Benefits Director at New Balance who led the process.
“I was approached by Marathon Health and was very impressed with all that they offered. We just trusted our instincts that this was a good cultural match,” Haskell says. “I had confidence in what Marathon Health was saying, and ultimately, as we learned, doing all the right things. It just made sense to us to move forward.”
Haskell emphasizes that culturally, New Balance believes wellness is in their DNA, and having a program like Marathon Health was consistent with their mission. “It’s a natural fit for New Balance,” he says. “Given what we do in the world, the products we make, for us to be all in on wellness makes total sense. And that’s why we’ve got such buy-in from ownership and senior leadership.”
New Balance partnered with Marathon Health in 2009 and established three onsite health centers across the brand’s footwear manufacturing facilities in New England. Originally brought on to reduce healthcare costs, the wellness centers are now seen as a benefit to associates and one that results in true improvements in health outcomes.
“It’s easy enough to reduce medical spend by increasing a deductible, increasing copays, or cutting back the percentage of premium the employer contributes, but really those just shift costs,” Haskell says. “We didn’t want to do that.”
With Marathon Health onsite centers, New Balance has seen drops in average blood pressures and BMI. “We’re seeing these numbers improve over time and that’s just fantastic,” he says. “From a clinical perspective, I’ve been pleased with the results. And anecdotally, we have dozens of stories of associates who have lost 75 pounds, who can now pick up a grandchild, or walk upstairs. All these stories are rewarding and heartwarming.”
New Balance’s associate engagement rate with the onsite health centers is 70% with a 50% reduction in smoking prevalence, 71% reduction in high blood pressure and a 60% reduction in work days lost since partnering with Marathon Health in 2009. In addition to healthier associates, New Balance’s cumulative return on investment is $2.50 saved for every dollar spent with gross savings to date of $12.3 million.
“It’s always a challenge to prove the financials on wellness and associate health improvements,” Haskell says. “Our data suggests that we’re spending a lot less now, especially versus what we would have spent if we had done nothing.”