An ongoing healthy incentive program aims to keep county employees healthy while lowering costs to the taxpayers.

Guadalupe County Commissioners unanimously approved using the incentive program Sonic Boom through Texas Association of Counties on Tuesday during a regular meeting. Sonic Boom provides merchandise and gift cards to county employees who achieve milestones in their health and wellness program.

“Years ago, we set money aside for a wellness program to encourage healthier employees,” County Judge Kyle Kutscher said. “Our medical insurance is self-funded through the taxpayers. A healthier workforce offsets the cost of that insurance and creates a happier staff at the same time.”

Previously, the county paid out of pocket for incentives to complete healthy goals. The county ran into problems when merchandise bought for this purpose was often going unclaimed and took up space in storage, interim county human resources director Cheraun Blankenship said.

However, working with Sonic Boom again, or its predecessor Provant, has streamlined the incentive program and provided more in-demand items, further raising participation among county employees Blankenship said. Employees now redeem “Boomer Bucks” to receive prizes.

“When we handled our own incentive prizes, people got tired of the usual stuff after a while,” Blankenship said. “They already had enough t-shirts or water bottles and that was less exciting. Through Sonic Boom, employees can select gift cards as rewards instead. That way, they can actually spend it on something they really want. Better prizes also means better participation.”

The county’s healthy program has four challenges throughout the year. A challenge may ask the user to walk a certain amount of steps over a determined period of time or another physical goal. Employees participating in the program need to complete at least three of this challenges to be eligible for prizes.

In addition to material prizes, Sonic Boom also rewards employees with a built-in achievement system to encourage even the smallest milestones. Informational tidbits on how to maximize fitness and wellness and healthy recipes also are supplied to the users through the program. Employees also can sync their Fitbit or other input device to the program.

For improving the health of its employee, Guadalupe County also delivers fresh fruit and healthy snacks to a designated department once a month Blankenship said. Regular exercise and a balanced diet has been proven to significantly reduce preventable, lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke.

Zach Ienatsch is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. He can be contacted by e-mail at zach.ienatsch@seguingazette.com.

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