By Maggie Hill
Last week marked the start of Scale Back Alabama 2020, and Valent Group was excited to participate. With the recent launch of our new wellness program, Taking Steps, we concluded that joining the Scale Back initiative would be the perfect kick-start in the new year. Scale Back Alabama is a free, state-wide campaign designed to address the state’s challenge with obesity. The program encourages participants to lose weight in a healthy and fun way.
Obesity in Alabama
Alabama currently has the 6th highest obesity rate in the nation, reaching over 36%, more than 1 in 3 adults, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. This rate has seen rapid growth over the last 30 years, up from just 11.2% in 1990. In fact, the percentage nearly doubled in just 10 years, hitting 22.6% in 2000. Thankfully, the increases have slowed over the last 3 years. However, progress is still needed to reduce the current rates. That is where Scale Back Alabama and other similar initiatives come in.
Scale Back Alabama
Scale Back partners with local organizations, primarily employers, hospitals and local health departments, to provide incentives, free resources and community support that encourage healthy choices and sustainable weight loss. Since it began in 2007, Scale Back participants have lost more than one million total pounds! Participants who meet criteria (the campaign does exclude certain members, i.e., children, pregnant women or those with a BMI under 20) register in teams of 2 and weigh-in at the start of the program. They then have 10 weeks to lose 10 lbs in order to qualify for a cash prize drawing at the end.
Nine team prizes, ranging from $250 to $1000 per team member, are awarded. Also, 40 individual prizes of $100 are awarded at the end of the program. Scale Back partner organizations often offer additional incentives to encourage participation. For example, this year Valent Group has offered an additional $100 prize for the team with the largest percentage of weight loss each month (which does involve additional internal weigh-ins).
Scaling Back at Valent Group
“We chose to offer additional incentives to encourage participation. Caring for our employees is a central element to our culture, it is who we are and why we do what we do,” says Leticia Tatum, HR Partner for Valent Group. “Over the last ten years, we have seen wellness become more of a focus in the HR world. It’s been identified as a central tenet of employee engagement. Scale Back offers a program that can engage our team across all our offices, as it is state-wide, with great resources and encouragement.” In addition to providing incentives, Valent chose to offer on-site registration and weigh-ins to encourage and facilitate enrollment, since the majority of employees are on-site or working remotely near a local office.
Leticia adds, “One important consideration we found as the coordinating partner was how best to provide access and communicate effectively to reach our team. It is essential to know your employees and their needs to make participation accessible for as many as possible. Also, in previous events we found that our team thrives on friendly competition. So, we made sure to adapt our implementation to help keep that competitive spirit alive throughout the entire campaign.”
The Scale Back Alabama campaign is a great resource for employers who want to implement a wellness program but do not have a large budget or are working with a small HR or wellness team. The resources are free and the program provides everything needed to get started. While, the 2020 registration period has already ended, groups interested in a wellness program should consider participating next year. Not only have wellness programs been shown to have a positive effect on corporate culture and employee engagement, they can even offer cost-saving benefits for a health plan when implemented correctly. If you would like assistance with developing a wellness program for your organization, contact our employee benefits team. Our team, including our in-house wellness consultant – Cindy McCain, RN – can help you find solutions to best fit your needs.