Cary Company Employees Take Steps toward Healthier Lifestyles

Cary Company employee Amanda gets her steps in every day.

Every morning, Ken Benson throws his Trio Motion® fitness tracker in his pocket before he leaves for work. It’s a small change he’s made to his day that will hopefully lead to big things. He’s one of The Cary Company employees trying to get his 10,000 steps in for the day.

Benson, along with many other Cary employees, is taking advantage of a wellness resource through the company’s medical plan with United Healthcare. The program is just one of many ways the company is looking out for its employees and supporting healthier lifestyles.

“At the end of the day, health is the bottom line for everybody,” said Benson, the company treasurer. “I think people need to understand that.”

According to Benson, administrator of the company’s health care plan, healthier employees can lead to lower premiums, a more positive work environment, and more vibrant employees. He said that by making it a group effort, employees can be accountable to each other.

“It’s something that the management team believes in,” he said, adding that healthy habits can help both physically and mentally. “Walking and movement is healthy.”

Located in Addison, The Cary Company is a distributor of containers and packaging, chemicals and raw materials, spill control products and filtration solutions for both industry and consumer. The company employs approximately 100 employees in its corporate office and warehouse.

Cary Company employee tracks his steps during the workday.Each enrolled employee and their covered spouse received a Trio Motion® wearable activity tracker in March. By wearing the tracker and meeting goals throughout the day, employees can earn up to $1,095 per year to defray out-of-pocket medical expenses. Employees receive $75 when they sign up for the program.

The three daily walking goals are frequency, intensity and tenacity. Frequency requires six five-minute walks per day, at least an hour apart. Intensity is taking 3,000 steps in 30 minutes, once per day. Tenacity is walking 10,000 steps per day. By meeting these goals, employees can earn up to $3 per day.

Kelly Murray, comptroller, said she decided to sign up because of the $75 enrollment award. A mother of four, she spends a lot of time chasing her kids around but said she wasn’t sure of her activity level.

Murray signed up for the program in March and said she started out slow, averaging around 2,100 steps a day.

“I forgot to wear it a lot and didn’t push myself at all,” she admitted. After the first month, she got used to wearing it more and is now averaging 8,000 steps a day. “I find myself doing all I can now to get 10,000 steps. I have even started doing a light workout before bed if my activity level was low for the day.”

The money was also an important factor to warehouse supervisor Tim Cosentino. Working in the warehouse, Cosentino is constantly running around and easily gets 10,000 steps or more per day.

“We’re on our feet a lot,” he said. “I really try to accomplish all three goals every day.”

He said he and the other warehouse guys are very competitive about their rankings. When employees log into their account, they can see where they stack up against other participating employees.

While it’s easy for the warehouse employees to get their steps in each day because they’re constantly on the move, the office employees find it more challenging. They can’t always get away from their desks during the day, especially when they need to be on the phone with customers.

“Work needs to be done,” said Benson. “It’s hard to strike that balance. People have to get their jobs done, but you want people to be healthy and walk. It’s okay to get up, just don’t abuse it.”

Customer relations specialist Amanda Peterson said she was interested in getting a fitness tracker because she felt she wasn’t getting much activity.

“I’m sitting eight hours a day, so it’s a good motivator to get me up and out and moving,” she explained. She wears the tracker every day and averages around 7,000 steps during the week.

Peterson said she and her boyfriend now take daily walks after dinner, and she looks for other opportunities to get in extra steps, like taking the stairs and choosing parking spots that are farther away.

“It all adds up,” she said.

Murray said she has also made changes to her daily routine in order to get more steps in.

“The tracker has kicked in a change of lifestyle for me,” she said. “I have started to get up early and workout before work. And if I don’t get my goal and I have a chance to get the kids down early, I will get on the elliptical and try to finish off my goal.”

All three employees said they are glad the company has offered this benefit. Benson said he has gotten a lot of positive feedback about it. Employees are looking at other ways to get healthy while having fun, such as a weight loss competition, participating in a charity walk, and taking walks outside during lunch breaks when the weather gets nicer. The company also offers a smoking cessation program.

Murray said the fitness tracker is helping her reach her weight loss goals.

“Meeting my daily goals and watching the scale move is empowering,” she said.

Peterson said she’s motivated by seeing how much she’s improving and how active she’s been.

“I used to run all the time and fell off last year sometime and never picked it back up again,” said Peterson. “Now having this fitness tracker, it helps remind me to get back into my old routine and motivates me to start running again.”

According to Benson, the fitness trackers are a great way for employees to take control of their health, which can help reduce stress and improve morale and productivity.

“I think it’s a great program,” he added.

"It’s awesome,” Cosentino agreed. “There’s not a lot of companies that offer this.”

“It’s cool, especially for somebody like me who’s wanted a Fitbit but never had the means to get one,” added Peterson. “It benefits you in more ways than one.”