At IBM, we have long understood that investing in prevention and well-being makes sense for both our employees and our business. The company has identified employee health risk reduction and maintenance of low health risk as a key requirement under IBM's Well-being Management System.

Wellness and healthy living are considered a company norm and employees are supported in this endeavor through IBM's wellness programs. The reasons are simple: Healthy employees tend to experience a better quality of life and higher personal productivity, and those who discover health problems early tend to get well faster and spend less on medical care.

The intent of IBM's global wellness strategy is to create a "culture of health" that fosters a long-term commitment to healthy lifestyles and the reduction of health risks among our employees and their families.

Our strategy is to challenge employees to become active and informed participants in their own health. IBM's extensive portfolio of global wellness offerings provides our employees with health-related information and the tools to help them achieve their highest potential at work, home and the communities in which they live.

The use of technology to deploy wellness programs is key to reaching IBM's highly distributed, mobile and increasingly dispersed employee population.

IBM employees have on-demand access to health risk assessment tools and professional guidance—all offered in collaboration with the highest quality suppliers in the healthcare industry—to assist them in developing personal health improvement plans.

Strategic use of technology and creative approaches to program delivery and communications allows for maximum reach.

By using technology, IBM can offer a comprehensive portfolio of health promotion and wellness programs customized to address the diverse cultures and local needs of IBM employees worldwide.

In many countries, a Web-based platform is the locus for employee engagement in health improvement, providing on-demand access to flexible, behavior-based programming that:

Our global strategy for improving the health of IBMers, while keeping costs in check, has four core elements:

IBM places specific focus on helping the global workforce:

Examples of Wellness Initiatives Around The World

Mexico: 10,000 Pasos is a program that encourages employees to walk 10,000 steps a day, for 12 consecutive weeks. Participants each receive a pedometer and a walking benefits guidebook. They register in a Lotus Notes database and record the steps they walk per day. Those who reach at least 80 percent of their target receive a reward.

Brazil and SSA (Venezuela, Argentina): The Seven Healthy Habits is a comprehensive wellness campaign that addresses nutrition, physical activity, preventative health services, stress management, and how to choose healthcare providers based on quality and cost. IBM Baby Brazil provides pregnant women with education and medical resources to support a healthy pregnancy.

Japan: Annual health check-ups, including programs to address hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, weight management, exercise, and smoking cessation (Quit Smoking for Life campaign), have proved very popular and successful.

China: Employee education programs on hepatitis B and its prevention and management and a hepatitis B immunization program are offered to all employees.

Germany: Looking Through the Eye into the Heart is a program designed to assess employees' risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Using a pocket PC, participants first complete a questionnaire regarding risk factors. Their responses are forwarded to an examiner who provides immediate feedback regarding basic health risk and advice on lifestyle improvements.

France: The proportion of employees receiving annual influenza vaccines increased from 14 percent to 16 percent between 2007 and 2008.

Italy: In cooperation with qualified external medical centers, cardiovascular and cancer screenings are conducted as part of a health promotion campaign. To promote physical activity, employees have access to fitness centers and gyms where employees at discounted rates.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand: Preventive health programs offer vaccinations and health-related education.

Canada: The Healthy Lifestyle Credit Program offers IBMers credits that may be earned by exercising 20 minutes per day, three days per week, for 10 weeks out of a 12-week period. Employees are also eligible for the Life Plan Program, which provides reimbursement for 80 percent of a course fee, up to an annual dollar amount, for approved and completed courses. Options include group exercise, nutrition, weight management, stress management, and smoking cessation.

United States: Healthy Living Rebate programs are designed to foster preventive care. The Physical Activity-Nutrition Rebate program, for example, has led to measurable health improvements and reduced growth in healthcare cost since 2004. In 2006, the Preventive Care Rebate program was added to the Healthy Living Rebate offerings, with the objective of enhancing participation in preventive care and quality-driven care. Participation in the Preventive Care Rebate program has resulted in the completion of nearly 330,000 Health Risk Assessments over five years by more than 120,000 employees. The Children's Health Rebate program was created to assist and activate employees with children to take positive actions as families for healthier eating and increased family physical activity. This unique, action-oriented program combines recommendations from leading experts with simple activities in which the whole family is asked to participate. During 2008, the first year of the program, nearly 12,000 employees earned this rebate, and 21,000 employees have enrolled to participate in the program in 2009.

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