LL Bean’s Wellness Program

llbeanThirty years ago, L.L. Bean implemented its first company sponsored wellness program believing, as Leon Gorman said at the time “A business is in a unique and responsible position to effectively enhance the well-being of its employees.”  What began as a single onsite fitness facility has grown into a comprehensive Employee Wellness program that reaches over 5,000 employees, family members and retirees.

The goal of the Bean’s wellness program is to create an environment and provide programs that encourage people to take individual responsibility for achieving their personal best in health and safety. They do this by:

  • Providing comprehensive onsite wellness programming for employees and spouses
  • Maintaining a strong corporate culture (Safe & Healthy Living Core Value, strong leadership support, Employee Outdoor Club)
  • Maintaining a healthy environment (tobacco free campuses, healthy food subsidies, OSHA VPP sites for safety, indoor and outdoor walking paths)
  • Incenting participation in a comprehensive Health Risk Appraisal program (Healthy Lifestyles) connected to the company’s benefit plan
  • Integrated communication and marketing efforts
  • Ongoing program evaluation focused on participation, health risk changes, health care cost containment and ROI

The company currently has twelve onsite fitness centers for employees in Maine (available at no cost) and offer fitness center subsidies for all employees who don’t have access to onsite facilities. They offer a wide variety of health education and activity classes, heavily subsidized in an effort to keep them affordable for all. The company targets offerings by areas within the company based on aggregate data obtained from our Health Risk Appraisals. Targeted health risks include obesity, physical activity, heart health, diabetes and mental health programming.

In 2007, L.L. Bean introduced the Healthy Lifestyles Program, a comprehensive Health Risk Appraisal program linked to the company’s health insurance plan. Employees and spouses/domestic partners who choose to participate in the programs pay significantly less for their health insurance premiums (up to $2,900 less/year). Over the five years the program has been in place LL Bean has maintained an 85% participation rate and a 98% completion rate.

The company has seen significant improvement in employee health risks, reduced health care costs and increased program participation. In addition, they have experienced a positive ROI ranging from 1.7:1 to 5.3:1 for the first four years that our Healthy Lifestyles program has been in place.  Medical costs per enrolled employee were lower in both 2010 and 2011 than in 2009, keeping trends lower than anticipated in both years.

Senior management is knowledgeable and visibly active in the wellness program.  Communication and marketing efforts have proven to be critical in successfully reaching the company’s diverse population. Communications highlight programs, participants and leadership in everything from the HR Resource Guide to their annual calendar.

Program evaluation has proven to be critical to the success of the L.L. Bean wellness program. They evaluate participant satisfaction, health risk reduction, health care cost trends and ROI in an effort to make sure they are doing the right things to help employees achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Regular surveys show participant satisfaction is high in all areas from the health education and activity classes offered to communication efforts and most recently, all aspects of the Healthy Lifestyles Program.

The company’s greatest success in health risk reduction comes in the area of tobacco use. In 1985, 24% of employees smoked. Through smoking cessation programs, free nicotine patches and gum and creating a tobacco free environment, the smoking rate in 2011 was at 5.6%.  This means that out of 5000 employees, there are approximately 920 fewer employees who smoke today compared to 1985.

L.L.Bean’s total medical claims have remained significantly below the Maine state average for the past three years and below regional averages for the same period.

The Healthy Lifestyles Program has shown positive ROI in the first four years of programming. The program produced an 85 percent HRA participation rate among its eligible population, has nearly 100% engagement in telephonic health coaching, and has high levels of participant satisfaction.