Blue Zones Fort Worth
1300 Summit Avenue
Fort Worth 76102
There’s something unusual about our employees’ health.
In a society where conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol seem ubiquitous, Higginbotham’s employees are getting healthier as they age. For 11 years, our firm has offered biometric screenings, and hundreds of employees are tracking important health factors. From 2016 to 2018, the percentage of employees at “high risk” fell for body mass index, blood pressure and HDL cholesterol. A higher percentage of employees report getting mammograms and other recommended tests, and smoking dropped.
Unusual? Very. So what’s behind this phenomenon?
Employee health and happiness have always been our top priority. Efforts such as providing healthy snacks and encouraging volunteerism boost employee satisfaction and have led to honors from Business Insurance as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Insurance” and from Texas Monthly as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Texas.”
In 2015 Higginbotham partnered with Blue Zones Project, a community-led well-being improvement initiative making healthy choices easier across Fort Worth. Blue Zones Project helped engage our team, implement best practices for employee well-being and create structure around existing efforts.
As the largest independent insurance broker based in Texas, Higginbotham works closely with companies to manage their medical benefits. We want to be an example for our clients by walking the walk. That’s why, with the support of Blue Zones Project, we established walking routes around our building and to nearby Burnett Park. We designated a quiet space where employees can downshift and we hosted a workshop to enable them to connect with their sense of purpose. Higginbotham created a policy to support volunteerism and provided healthier options in vending machine.
These changes supported existing well-being resources, such as our well-being advisory committee and annual on-site biometric screenings and health risk assessments. We also give our employees access to well-being programs. This year, 460 employees underwent biometric screenings, eight completed a tobacco cessation program, 43 participated in nutrition coaching and about 100 took part in a weight management program.
As our employees made changes at work, they began to take their healthy habits home and impact their families and friends. Then something synergistic started happening. Neighborhoods, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses throughout Fort Worth joined Blue Zones Project efforts. It became easier for Higginbotham employees to make healthy choices outside of work, and we began seeing the positive effects in our biometric screening results.
One area, however, remained challenging. Our aggregate glucose level inched up, taking us from 88 percent of employees at “low risk” in 2016 to 71 percent at “low risk” in 2018. Those at moderate risk jumped from 8 percent to 26 percent. We noticed an inconsistency. While we provided nutritious snack options, catering was a different story, so we developed a catering policy that supports healthy choices. Today, our commitment to well-being permeates all aspects of our business.
That commitment is based on more than the fact that we’re in the insurance field. All employers are in a powerful position to impact community health. Shaping the worksite environment to support well-being can dramatically influence an individual’s choices and, ultimately, improve health. The changes are simple; the results, profound.
Healthy employees are good for the bottom line. Employees with high levels of well-being are more productive and miss fewer days of work. Companies experience less turnover and have an edge in recruiting top talent. Reducing health care risks also means lower health care costs. We have seen clients experience significant downward trends in their medical plan spending with long-term wellness efforts. Employees engaged in company wellness efforts have substantially less medical spending year over year, as well as an increased compliance rate for preventive care. We have also seen a dramatic shift for clients that invest in wellness from chronic and preventable claims to acute and non-preventable claims.
Higginbotham was the first employer in Fort Worth to become Blue Zones Project Approved. Today, 127 businesses have earned the designation, positively impacting more than 72,000 members of the local workforce, and Fort Worth is expected to soon be certified as a Blue Zones Community, which means our city will have embraced best practices from areas of the world where people live longer, with less chronic disease.
A movement to better well-being is underway, and the business community is leading the way. The result is a stronger, healthier Fort Worth, and Higginbotham is proud to be part of it. To find a list of Blue Zones Project Approved organizations and learn how your business can get involved, visit LiveLongFortWorth.com.
Katie Callender is Higginbotham’s senior wellness and health risk management consultant.