The Starr Group: Supporting a Healthy Workplace

The Starr Group Logo, Insurance & Risk Solutions, Improving your total risk wellness Company Background

Industry: Insurance
Location(s): Milwaukee, WI
Number of employees: 36
The Starr Group is an insurance and risk-management agency that has been in business since 1956 and specializes in balancing insurance with alternative risk financing strategies while improving their customers’ total risk wellness. Products and services provided by the organization include commercial, group benefits, leadership and corporate wellness, captives, safety and loss control, human resources, Department of Transportation compliance, and auto and home insurance. The Starr Group is driven by a vision to lead in the creation and delivery of risk-reducing services and insurance programs that produce a measurable improvement in Total Risk Wellness for clients.

Through this vision, The Starr Group aims to provide a positive work environment that empowers employees to be beacons of innovation and provides integrity to its clients. The Starr Group is wholly committed to a workplace environment that encourages and supports proper nutrition, regular exercise and ongoing healthy lifestyle management. These efforts are designed to help employees achieve an overall increase in energy, a reduction in stress, a more positive outlook on life and an increase in total body wellness. Our data shows that our efforts are linked to improved employee achievement, productivity, morale and healthier lifestyles.

The Starr Group offers a comprehensive approach to supporting the health of its employees with resources, regular health events and ongoing opportunities for employees that include:

  • Annual biometric testing and health risk assessments: These results determine aggregate areas of risk, which informs wellness programming.
  • Health coach review and ongoing health coaching: Anyone who scores below “Good” on the annual biometric testing, or who is considered to be at a pre-disease state, is required to have individual health coaching to be eligible for a reduced medical premium.
  • Lunch and Learns and challenges: Approximately 15 to 18 Lunch and Learns and six to eight challenges each year focus on providing tools and education to help minimize the primary areas of risk for the group, which include sedentary lifestyle, BMI, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, breast cancer, accidents and injuries.

Lunch and Learn topic examples include:

  • Eat Right for Life
  • Preventable Diseases
  • Diabetes Prevention
  • Stroke Awareness
  • Healthy Cooking Demo
  • Dance Your Way to a Healthy Heart
  • Meditation Techniques
  • CPR

Challenge examples include:

  • American Heart Association’s Check. Change. Control.®
  • Healthy Cooking Challenge
  • 12 Week Step Equivalent Challenge
  • Rest and Restore
  • Gratitude Challenge
Healthy Cooking Challenge
Healthy Cooking Challenge

In addition, The Starr Group provides its employee with the following wellness activities:

  • Monthly health promotion messages – For many employees, the majority of the day might be spent sitting at their desks. To minimize the risks associated with prolonged periods of sedentary behavior, The Starr Group offers weekly “Stomp Out Stress” or “Flash Fitness” fitness sessions, a walking workstation and bike workstation that employees are encouraged to use during the day. Walking meetings, when feasible, are also encouraged.
  • Online wellness portal – The portal is operated by US Health Center, The Starr Group’s wellness vendor. Through this portal, employees can access their health records, wellness points earned and a library of wellness tools and resources.
  • Access to a free personal trainer on a quarterly basis during work hours to help employees establish workout goals and regimens. The personal trainer completes all confidential measurements, including weight, body measurements, body fat and heart rate recovery.
  • Spouses, dependents, partners and other family members are encouraged to participate in all components of the wellness program.

Providing the Necessary Resources for Support

The Starr Group implements a variety of strategies to ensure that health and wellness are a part of the workplace culture, including dedicating appropriate resources and engaging key leaders in wellness strategy for the organization. Wellness and health programming is designed, implemented and evaluated through a Wellness Committee, overseen by the Executive Vice President of The Starr Group. The Wellness Committee also includes a Certified Wellness Coach and the organization’s Wellness Coordinator, who assists with communication and tracking. All Wellness Committee members are volunteers from a variety of departments within The Starr Group. Each volunteer commits with a signed job description that includes roles and responsibilities outlined for planning, implementing and promoting the wellness program on behalf of their co-workers.

The Wellness Committee helps to ensure that all levels of management participate in health and wellness activities and that leadership is engaged in the development of wellness strategy for the organization. For example, the Wellness Committee works with leadership to ensure that messages about workplace health and the well-being of employees are communicated to employees by senior leaders and middle management. This includes quarterly in-house newsletters and health communication through All-Agency Meetings held twice a year. There is also an annual mandatory offsite Wellness Banquet where highlighted accomplishments of the previous year are shared and where the next year’s program is introduced. During the Wellness Banquet, employees are recognized for their health-related accomplishments. This public recognition is an example of how leadership engages in the wellness and health of their employees.

The Starr Group also works closely with wellness vendor US Health Center to collect data to measure the extent to which programs are successful, including program participation and employee participation and satisfaction with specific programs. For example, US Health Center provides aggregate reporting based on data from the biometric screenings, health risk assessments and health coaching, as well as an interest survey. To continuously inform and improve strategy and activities, the Wellness Committee administers an annual Culture Audit, a Presenteeism Study, a Q12 Engagement Survey and Employee Satisfaction and Interest Surveys. These assessments allow The Starr Group to monitor and track the progress of programs and the health of employees.

The Starr Group gets organizational-level performance feedback from Marsh Berry and Associates, a group of high-performing insurance agencies from across the U.S. To participate in their review and be a member, an insurance agency must attain and maintain certain standards. The Starr Group is proud to be a participating member. Participation in this review involves submitting production and financial data on a quarterly basis. In return, The Starr Group receives a detailed comparative report. The report provides trended data along with comparisons to other top performing agencies.

The Starr Group introduced its wellness program in 2007. Since 2008, productivity numbers as reported in the quarterly Marsh Berry reports show consistent improvement, going from below the average of the group to consistently being between 25 percent and 40 percent above the average of top performers.

The Starr Group at the American Heart Association Heart Walk
The Starr Group at the American Heart Association Heart Walk


As a result of The Starr Group’s wellness and health promotion efforts, the organization has achieved the following positive results:
1) Culture: A third-party vendor asked The Starr Group employees to use various words to describe the organization’s culture. The number one word used was “healthy”. This supports The Starr Group’s belief in an incredible connection between investment in wellness and overall employee engagement, satisfaction levels and the overall success of The Starr Group.
2) Awareness: The results of The Starr Group’s year-end survey show that 100% of employees indicate that the organization’s wellness programming has increased their overall awareness and motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle.
3) Corporate Risk Burden: Declining population health risks have reduced the Corporate Risk Burden by $10,000 per employee in five years (2013-2018). Corporate Risk Burden is a combination of the pre-disease, lifestyle and productivity risks of employees.
4) Productivity: The Starr Group achieved above the average of high performing insurance agencies in 2016-2018 by over 25%.
5) Presenteeism: Our annual presenteeism survey data indicates a 72% improvement in productivity risks over 3 years (2015 to 2018).
6) Recognition: The Starr Group was recognized as a Future 50 Winner in Milwaukee in 2016 and 2014, which awards companies based on profitability and productivity numbers. The organization has been recognized by the Wellness Council of WI and achieved Gold status from the American Heart Association for the Workplace Health Achievement Index.
7) Retention: Wellness has become a critical retention strategy for the Starr Group as 100% of employees state that wellness is a primary reason for remaining with the organization. In addition, the Starr Group’s Marsh Berry employee satisfaction scores have been 25% above the average of high performing agencies for the past 9 years. The organization’s 2016 and 2017 third party engagement surveys resulted in an employee engagement score of 100%.
8) Recruitment: Wellness has become an essential recruitment strategy, with over 95% of applicants stating that a primary reason for applying to The Starr Group is because wellness is an integral part of the culture.

Ongoing monitoring of The Starr Group’s wellness and health promotion programming and related outcomes, including soliciting direct feedback from employees, demonstrates that The Starr Group’s efforts to support the health and well-being of its workforce have profoundly impacted the overall productivity and success of the organization.