Sun Life employees take healthy living to a new level

HealthyRETURNS Fitness Challenge creates record employee engagement

WATERLOO, ON, Dec. 3 2009 – Sun Life Financial has revealed the results of its HealthyRETURNS Fitness Challenge, an eight-week, Canada-wide wellness initiative that motivated employees to log over four million minutes of activity. The HealthyRETURNS Fitness Challenge inspired a 38 per cent participation rate among Sun Life employees, compared to a 20 to 25 per cent average participation rate for the same program offered to similar organizations.

On September 28, 2009, Sun Life launched a Fitness Challenge, an initiative made available through the Sun Life Group Benefits HealthyRETURNS program and its strategic alliance with Buffett & Company Worksite Wellness Inc., to inspire employees to get more active, eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water. Nearly 300 teams consisting of over 2,700 employees from across Canada took up the challenge.

“I’m very pleased to see the level of employee participation and commitment to our HealthyRETURNS Fitness Challenge,” says Stuart Monteith, Senior Vice-President, Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Health and wellness initiatives like the Challenge provide Sun Life employees with tools that can help improve their health and quality of life.”

More than half of Canada’s population is considered inactive(1) and almost one out of every two Canadians is either overweight or obese.(2)

In February, Sun Life conducted a wellness assessment, through which employees identified their top five health risks: nutrition, sleep, stress, physical activity, and weight. The HealthyRETURNS Fitness Challenge was designed to help reduce these risks.

“Sun Life has the highest fitness challenge participation rate we have seen for a company of its size. With a rate of close to 40 per cent, Sun Life is well above the participation average of comparable organizations running the same program,” said Janet Young, Vice-President of Buffett & Company Worksite Wellness Inc.

HealthyRETURNS for a healthy workforce

The program encouraged employees to form groups of five to 15 people and participate in a minimum of 20 minutes of physical activity each day. Employees earned points for exercising, eating healthy, drinking water, and getting enough sleep.

The HealthyRETURNS Fitness Challenge is just one aspect of Sun Life’s commitment to providing a healthy workplace. Sun Life has a strong interest in supporting health and wellness initiatives for employees and the public about the importance of leading healthy lifestyles.

“It’s great that my employer cares about my health and takes an active role in helping me become more active,” said Kim Murphy, Universal Life Administrator, and member of top-ranked Universaloo challenge team in Waterloo. “Sun Life is setting an example for how all corporations should treat their employees.”

Employers and employees can support a healthy workplace by:

  • recognizing employee health as a key business driver, and integrating employee health strategies into the overall business strategy
  • providing visible leadership support for health and wellness initiatives
  • taking a strategic approach to employee health, which involves assessing employees, and designing and delivering health and wellness programs that target identified health risk factors in the employee population at large
  • building and continuously demonstrating the value of proactive health strategies through measurement and communication
  • taking responsibility for discovering what health and wellness initiatives your employer has to offer and participating.

(1) Physical Activity Monitor. Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute. 2004.
(2) Canadian Community Health Survey 2005. Statistics Canada.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2009, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of CDN$412 billion. For more information please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

About Buffett & Company Worksite Wellness Inc.

Buffett & Company is Canada’s leading provider of worksite wellness programs and consulting services. We provide services to organizations at every stage of change, from the Strategic Health Assessment to targeted, on-site wellness programming to program evaluation.

Our vision is comprehensive. We work with organizations to improve employee and organizational health and well-being, enhance individual engagement and effectiveness, and increase both productivity and profitability. Our programs are evidence-based; we evaluate all initiatives and provide a full analysis of annual wellness outcomes and return-on-investment data.

Buffett & Company is the only organization in the worksite wellness industry to have won the National Quality Institute’s Order of Excellence, Healthy Workplace Trophy (2008).