Raising Heart and Overall Health Awareness: Union Pacific Links Wellness Programs With Business and Medical Initiatives
Omaha, Neb., February 11, 2005 Valentine’s Day has always been about the heart, and Union Pacific is using this day to promote overall health among its employees. To encourage healthy choices, Union Pacific Railroad is integrating its wellness program with its business structure and medical benefits initiatives.
"Union Pacific has earned national recognition for our wellness program. It made sense to tie this program to our business structure in field locations and to medical benefits," said Barb Schaefer, senior vice president-Human Resources. "Healthier employees who make good, informed decisions about their medical care help hold down rising healthcare costs."
Union Pacific's "HealthTrack" wellness program offers intervention for 10 risk factors, including smoking cessation, weight loss, depression, fatigue and diabetes management education. Employees have free access to more than 525 fitness centers system-wide and a 19,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness facility in the new Union Pacific Center headquarters in Omaha, Neb.
The Union Pacific Center also houses a dining room, where a healthful cuisine makes "eating right" easier; in fact, 25 percent of sales is generated through the salad bar offerings. Even the vending machines found on each of the building's 19 floors offer healthy snack alternatives, a move that soon will be replicated throughout all railroad facilities.
In field locations, Union Pacific integrates its health messages and programs into the business structure of its mechanical shops and transportation service units. Health screenings and health fairs are conducted during regular business meetings. A network of onsite regional health coordinators and occupational health nurses ensures that wellness activities are part of employees’ daily lives.
Tying its wellness programs to its medical benefits, in 2005 the company is offering a new consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) among its more traditional healthcare plans for managers. Under the CDHP, Union Pacific provides financial incentives if the manager is a non-smoker (or completes the UP smoking cessation course) and also fills out a Wellness Assessment to help identify lifestyle risks that could be addressed through an appropriate HealthTrack program. The CDHP also encourages managers to be better healthcare consumers, by researching health topics to prepare for office visits, asking questions of their physicians, and determining which healthcare facilities have the best outcomes for specific medical procedures.
The wellness challenge at Union Pacific is unique because of the railroad’s demographics: due to physical job demands and 24/7 work schedules, the great majority of employees are male with an average age of 46. With so many employees spending their entire careers at Union Pacific (the average employee works 30-plus years), the bottom line is "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Schaefer said, "It’s not only about costs; it’s about doing what’s right and sending employees home in even better condition long term."
Among the many awards Union Pacific has earned for its wellness initiatives are:
- C. Everett Koop National Health Award, 1994, 1997, 2001
- WELCOA Well Workplace Gold Award, 1992, 1996, 1999
- WELCOA Well Workplace Platinum Award, 2001
- Institute for Health and Productivity Management – Corporate Health and Productivity Management Award, 2001
- Corporate Health Achievement Award, 2003 (American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine)
- Health and Human Services – Innovation in Prevention Award, 2003
- The Surgeon General’s press release regarding "The Health Consequences of Smoking" recognized Union Pacific's Smoking Cessation Program, 2004
Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America’s leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, is the largest railroad in North America, covering 23 states across the western two-thirds of the United States. A strong focus on quality and a strategically advantageous route structure enable the company to serve customers in critical and fast growing markets. It is a leading carrier of low-sulfur coal used in electrical power generation and has broad coverage of the large chemical-producing areas along the Gulf Coast. With competitive long-haul routes between all major West Coast ports and eastern gateways, and as the only railroad to serve all six major gateways to Mexico, Union Pacific has the premier rail franchise in North America.
For further information, contact Anne Walsh: (402) 544-4173
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