Small Business Tools to Help You on the Path to Wellness

The following is a notice from the Indiana Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network at the I.U. School of Medicine:

Not all wellness programs are created equal. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Many companies and their employees possess varied circumstances that make them unique. While there are differences, there are also lessons and best practices to be learned from others as well as resources available to help.
Jennifer Taylor, one of the creators of the Indiana Healthy Worksites Toolkit for Small Businesses, is conducting a study to uncover the best and most practical ways to share wellness information with small businesses.
The study is simple. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to complete two online surveys (one in March and one in June). Each will take about 20 minutes. Your information and survey answers will remain confidential.
At the end of the June study, you will be entered for a chance to receive a free registration to the 2012 Indiana Employee Health and Wellness Summit or a free membership (for one year) to the Wellness Council of Indiana.
To participate in this study, your organization must meet the following criteria:

  • Consist of between two and 100 full-time employees
  • Be located in Indiana
  • Have a membership with either the Indiana Chamber of Commerce or Wellness Council of Indiana

Those interested in participating in this valuable study should contact Taylor at (317) 363-1943 or via e-mail ([email protected]) by Friday, March 2.

Wellness Proves to be Hot Topic

Chuck Gillespie, Wellness Council of Indiana program director, was "on fire" during a recent Policy Call discussion with Chamber members. I say on fire because Chuck offered excellent, easy-to-remember wellness advice for all.

It started with the fact that wellness, according to Chuck, has "gone from a nice thing to do to a stratgic business strategy." Well said, and important to remember. A few additional highlights:

  • Three key questions everyone asks: Where do I begin ?; what are others doing ?; how do I measure what we’re doing? The Wellness Council and other resources have the answers to help
  • "Keep it simple." Good advice to remember no matter the situation
  • Replace the word "health" with "healthier" (as in trying to become healthier than you were yesterday); in addition, sub "active" or "movement" for the word "exercise" and its negative connotation
  • Not enough emphasis is placed on the fact that wellness and safety should be tied together
  • Four key words for success: consistency, leadership, planning and promotion

Learn more about the Wellness Council. And if you’re looking to enhance your wellness efforts, purchase the Indiana Employer’s Guide to Workplace Wellness.

The next Policy Call for Chamber members on Nov. 11 will feature Indiana congressman Marlin Stutzman. Details coming soon online or call (317) 264-3793 to register.

I Can Walk Away From This Promo Message

I receive press releases — lots and lots of press releases. Here’s one that gained attention, not for its message but its absurdity.

Title: Which is Worse for Your Health? Cigarettes or Office Chairs?
NBC News reports that new research shows the ill effects of prolonged sitting is commensurate with similar health afflictions found among cigarette smokers.
Dr. David Coven, a cardiologist at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital in New York, states in the report that several new studies show prolonged sitting is linked directly to many of the same diseases contracted by smokers including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and premature mortality. The report warned that the odds of contracting any of these diseases increased with the amount of time spent sitting during the day.
“We have been sounding the alarm bells about the dangers of sedentary lifestyles for the past two years and appreciate that NBC’s coverage will add to our attempts to build a movement revolution in the United States,” stated TrekDesk CEO Steve Bordley. “America’s health is at risk as never before yet few understand the severe health impact of sitting at a desk all day.”

I’m all for wellness (we’ve got the Wellness Council of Indiana under the Chamber umbrella now, we’re putting the final touches on the wellness issue of BizVoice and the Chamber is preparing for the annual Indiana Employee Health and Wellness Summit). But really: Comparing the impacts of working at a desk to smoking to sell "walking treadmills?" The product might be worthwhile, but the message to get us to pay attention leaves much to be desired.

Well, Weller and Wellness

I’m glad blog headlines are not subject to strict English guidelines. But on to the business of the day.

If you’re in the wellness world (promoting it within your company, offering products or services to others, or simply interested for personal reasons), read on. If you’re not, maybe you should be so read on anyway.

There is a wellness trifecta going on at the Indiana Chamber — and we want you to be able to take advantage of the opportunities.

  • As announced earlier, the Wellness Council of Indiana became part of the Chamber at the beginning of this year. Chuck Gillespie ([email protected]) is the executive director and he’s working with many of the longtime volunteer board members to expand wellness programming, benefits and certifications throughout the state. Chuck can fill you in on the details.
  • The Chamber’s BizVoice magazine has been publishing wellness columns and roundtable discussions for more than five years. The upcoming July-August issue will be largely dedicated to wellness stories, programs and initiatives from throughout the state. You won’t want to miss it; and if you’re one of those in the wellness business, it’s a great way to advertise your wares. Jim Wagner ([email protected]) will help you take care of that.
  • Finally, the Chamber is partnering once again to produce the 2011 Employee Health and Wellness Summit. It’s September 27 at the new JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Agenda details are still to come; sponsorhip opportunities are another great way to get the word out. Jim Wagner will help you in that area also.

As Gillespie often writes, says, who knows maybe sings at times: "It’s good to be well!"

A Big Day for Wellness in Indiana; Chamber Now Home for Wellness Council

During the last six years or so, I’ve learned a few things about wellness. For example:

  • A number of companies that entered the wellness arena early this decade did it with the assumption of rapid financial returns. In other words, they expected immediate savings on health insurance premiums and were often disappointed when that did not take place.
  • In one of the first BizVoice roundtable discussions on this topic, we heard from one of the early adopters that some initial preventative screenings detected a heart ailment in one of their employees. He was immediately sent to his doctor and successfully treated. Yes, money was saved in the long term, but most importantly a life was preserved. There have been various versions of similar stories since.

The true value of wellness in the workplace lies somewhere between those two extremes. Establishing a successful wellness culture may not immediately save lives, but in the long term it will result in healthier and more productive employees — and likely produce that elusive benefit to the bottom line.

With all that in mind, the Indiana Chamber looks to bring wellness to more workplaces in 2011 by forming a partnership with the Wellness Council of Indiana. WCI has been around for 20-plus years with highly respected volunteers and wellness resources providing certifications and other programs for businesses. The new alliance will allow the Chamber to expand these programs and make them available to more employers and their employees statewide.

Read more in today’s press release and in the coming weeks and months as further details develop.