Takeaways From 2017 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit

Thank you to those who attended the 2017 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit at the beginning of the month. We hope you enjoyed the fantastic keynote speakers, breakout sessions and exhibitors. As the largest gathering of wellness professionals in Indiana, we strive to provide an exceptional experience to all who attend.

Wellness Summit

The summit connected more than 400 Indiana professionals with an opportunity to network and learn from others. I enjoyed honoring our 19 new AchieveWELL organizations, learning best practices and meeting dedicated wellness leaders from across the state.

Over the last several days, I have reflected on my key takeaways from the event and narrowed it down to these four items:

1) Wellness isn’t about the program; it’s about the people: Wellness champions should not get too hung up on implementing wellness programs, as the “program” is only the beginning. To truly effect change, wellness champions need to keep the employee (not ROI or reduced health care costs) at the center of all efforts.Stretch

2) Wellness requires top leadership support supplemented by grassroots efforts: Leaders must communicate the value, motivate the employees, link wellness to overall business goals and “walk the walk”. At the same time, employees need to drive efforts from the bottom up. Initiatives created and led by them will have a greater chance of buy-in.

hygiene kit

3) Workplace wellness efforts should go beyond the four walls of the organization to reach the community: An emphasis on wellness within the organization is important, yet the value of strong community wellness and employer support of communities cannot be overstated. Community initiatives should move beyond only financial support to truly engage employees.

4) The evolution of wellness: These elements of wellness – mental, physical, purpose, community and financial well-being – continue to be the backbone of a sustainable and comprehensive workplace wellness program. The wellness conversation continues to evolve, however, as workplaces look to address employee well-being as it relates to food insecurity, housing crises, workplace violence, diversity and substance abuse.

Jennifer Pferrer is the executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana. Find out more about the Wellness Council of Indiana at www.wellnessindiana.org.

Poll Voters Say “Keep It Flexible”

Best Places to Work in Indiana companies offer a variety of benefits that help them earn that honor. When we asked you which were most valuable from an employee perspective, the "F’s" won:

  • 43%: flexible scheduling
  • 37%: family friendly options (telecommuting, job share, etc.)

One could reasonably argue those two are closely related. And that’s fine, because remember this isn’t  a scientific poll. The bottom line is that people want choices in combining their work and family lives. If they are good employees, those choices and employer understanding may make them even more productive.

By the way, a comprehensive wellness program received the other 20% of the vote. Learn more about the BPTW program for 2013.

Check out the new poll (top right) related to government’s role in growing new businesses.

Dollars & Sense Behind Wellness Programs

I’m fortunate to sit on our Wellness Committee here at the Chamber. We develop ways to encourage staff to eat better, exercise more, and take advantage of the state’s wonderful parks. Additionally, the Chamber now houses the Wellness Council of Indiana, which is doing great things under the leadership of Chuck Gillespie. But some businesses out there may be hesitant to invest time and resources into staff wellness. This article from Media Health Leaders may help you see the benefits:

If employers entice and incentivize employees to take better care of themselves, by losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, etc., then the healthier life style will result in lower medical costs, which will be reflected in lower health insurance premiums, and other costs associated with employer-based health plans.

It’s a remarkably simple theory. Until recently, however, it’s been just that: theory. It’s been difficult to consistently demonstrate savings generated by wellness programs. As the wellness movement matures, however, more studies prove they are a worthy return on investment.

Highmark Inc., the Pittsburgh-based health insurers, have published the findings of a four-year study which found that healthcare costs rose at a 15% slower rate among wellness participants who were offered a consistent and comprehensive wellness program over several years, when compared with employees in a control group who did not participate in wellness programs.

The study of select Highmark employer group wellness programs showed that the savings per participant was $332 a year, when compared with the control group of nonparticipants. Actually, the savings could be considerably higher, says Jennifer Grana, a director at Highmark, because the study does not factor in the cost of lost productivity and absenteeism due to health issues.