Healthcare: Wellness Matters More than Ever

Attitude pays off big-time, as these six local employers demonstrate

by RaeAnne Marsh

Health and wellness is a mindset, in many ways. It requires a participant to recognize that it’s about “me” and to be aware that “what I do” affects the outcome. The current COVID-19 pandemic has brought that awareness to the fore as people make deliberate choices on what they do and where they go.

Businesses have long offered healthcare and related programs to their employees. But offering is only part of the wellness equation. There’s an old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Here are vignettes of success of businesses that not only provide the “water” but have addressed that other part of the equation: the motivation to “make him drink” — and have been doing so since before COVID-19 raised everyone’s awareness.

Community Tire Pros – Where Community Is More than a Name

We look at healthy employees as part of our commitment to community.  That’s why the word “community” is in our name. We serve, not just the surrounding neighborhoods, but the community or “family of employees” at Community Tire.

To that extent we believe promoting healthy lifestyles is as important as promoting healthy business practices and healthy customer relationships.    We cover 60 percent of healthcare coverage for our employees and their families and we have several programs to encourage healthy behavior and healthy choices.

Among these are two contests we run each year. One for weight loss and the other for overall health improvement. The weight loss challenge carries a monetary award and the employees love it. For overall health, we give a trophy away each year to the employee with the best health turnaround. It is just as important as the other trophies we give away each year — the trophies for achievements throughout the year, gross sales, net profit increase, tire sales increase. And it’s not about who’s top dog; it’s about who has made the biggest improvement. We believe that, by our recognizing improvement, everyone feels like they have a chance to succeed.

Also by including the health improvement trophy among those other business performance improvement trophies, it gives it the same level of importance to health as the other awards — making health improvement as important in the minds of our employees as financial performance. We have had some great participation and it has been well-received. Calvin at tore 4 in Buckeye made a huge turnaround for weight loss last year, but it’s not always about weight loss. If someone quits smoking or has a significant health improvement they can win as well.

The weight loss challenge, is separate from the health improvement award, it’s fun to see how the employees compete with one another to see who can lose the most weight in a year.

The employees jump in on this. We try to build a culture of participation and respect for one another. Follow-through and celebration are two important components of employee buy-in. For example, if you promote something and then you don’t follow through as management, or if you don’t adequately celebrate the employees’ achievements in a big and public way, they’ll never believe you and it can have the opposite effect of what you intended. In our case, response has been strong; they think it’s cool that we care.

The weight loss challenge goes back 10 years, and the health and wellness award goes back about three or four years.

It’s not coincidental that everyone who has received the award is someone who has been with us a long time; it stands to reason that the employees with the longest tenure appreciate these things and take them seriously. We don’t have a lot of turnaround, so you can see how younger employees are influenced by the veterans over the years. Anyone who is skeptical of how much we care changes that thinking over the years when the veterans lead  by example.

The impact on productivity is not something we’ve measured, but we believe there is a direct link between caring about your employees and their productivity. That’s why we commingle the health and wellness award with awards for company performance improvement.

This is just one of a number of ways that we show our employees how much we care; and not just the employees, but their spouses and significant others as well. We send out anniversary cards and birthday cards for both, we give out basketball game tickets or spa days for wives, we give gift cards for groceries during the holidays and we give away trips to Vegas or Jamaica through contests or to just let highly productive employees know that we care. We appreciate their hard work because it’s a direct reflection of how much we care about our customers as well. Howard and Patty Fleischmann Sr., Owners of Community Tire Pros


Delta Dental – Sustaining a New Take on Employee Wellness

Wellness programs can be a bit like the time I put apples in the lunchroom vending machine . . . I was out of ideas on how to engage employees in wellness initiatives, so I did a survey. Employees took the survey and insisted that, if the vending machine contained healthy options, they would choose the apples over the Cheetos. So, I rolled out the new, healthy snacks and fresh fruit. I proudly announced the change and could almost feel cholesterol levels dropping!

But I soon noticed that all the wrong people got the apples — the people who already ate healthy snacks, went to the gym or attended my cholesterol screenings. You know, the people who are already choosing things that keep them healthy and our benefits costs low. My conclusion: The apples didn’t move the wellness needle at all.

It was the rest of the population I needed to engage — the ones who have a physical restriction that keeps them out of the gym, who feel ashamed of the dozens of diets they’ve tried, who are afraid of what their doctors might say if they scheduled an exam. I needed a wellness program that did the job of an apple, but low-pressure, easy and, most importantly, effective.

Well-Being > Wellness

My apples taught me the folly of focusing only on lifestyle choices, like diet and exercise, and forgetting about the less glamorous — but far more effective — disease-management. A recent RAND Corporation study showed that the ROI for disease management is much higher than the ROI for lifestyle management programs ($3.80 vs. $0.50). This type of return allows employers to pass savings on to employees through lower plan costs and wellness premium discounts. At Delta Dental of Arizona, half of our employees qualify for a 10-percent wellness discount!

I also learned that my apples only engaged current apple fans. Lifestyle-focused wellness programs tend to engage our younger, healthier employees while alienating others. The workforce at my office spans ages 20 to 70, with an equally wide variety of physical abilities. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease.

Given this information, I choose to focus my efforts on helping employees manage their day-to-day struggles. My goal is to arm employees with the knowledge they need to monitor and control their conditions. Some ways we do this at Delta Dental of Arizona are ensuring employees have affordable dental and vision benefits to catch signs of disease early, inviting mobile dental and vision clinics to visit our office, holding health screenings throughout the year, offering a wellness discount for employees who complete their yearly preventive care, giving employees an easy and affordable option for finding mental health care, having resources available for employees who are interested in attending a support group, finding insurance carriers who offer coordinated care programs for their members, and motivating employees with healthy lunches and raffle prizes

Disease management has empowered our employees to take better care of themselves and their dependents. When employees are effectively managing their conditions, they spend less time at the emergency room and more time feeling healthy at work.Jolean Fleck, Director of Human Resources at Delta Dental of Arizona

Jolean Fleck, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is the director of human resources at Delta Dental of Arizona. An experienced talent manager, Fleck has spent more than 20 years delivering HR solutions across diverse industries that align with business strategy and provide an enriching employee experience.


Lovitt & Touché – Wellness Program Impacts Colleague Lives

Encouraged by her doctors to lose weight to lower her overall risk of disease, a Lovitt & Touché colleague recovering from ovarian cancer worked with the company’s on-site health coaches to change her diet and increase her exercise. Going on daily walks with co-workers and making better food choices helped her lose 40 pounds in a year — and, most importantly, she remains cancer free more than two years later.

“The lifestyle changes she made by embracing our wellness culture probably saved her life,” says Shawn Ellis, vice president of human resources at Lovitt & Touché, A Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company.

This colleague’s experience is one of many success stories resulting from the company’s 10-year-old Feel Good & Lovitt program. More than 83 percent of the company participates in the wellness program, with more than 50 percent receiving on-site biometric screenings last year.

The screenings are one of many services Lovitt & Touché offers to help colleagues live healthier lives. Others include health risk assessments; monthly health/wellness seminars; hands-on wellness activities; telemedicine; nurse hotline; on-site massages; discounts on health products; nutritional and dietary resources; colleague assistance programs; and disease management programs for arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disorders, cancer, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, depression, diabetes, maternity metabolic syndrome, musculoskeletal pain, obesity and stress management/anxiety.

“Lovitt & Touché places an extremely high value on workplace wellness,” Ellis says. “Our Feel Good & Lovitt program makes a tremendous difference; not only does it educate colleagues about healthy practices, but it also provides them with opportunities to easily implement them. For example, having a dedicated wellness space on-site allows us to offer a variety of physical activities led by health coaches; we also provide healthy vending options as well as on-site flu shots and mammograms.”

In addition to convenience, Feel Good & Lovitt includes a points-based system awarding colleagues points for completing various wellness activities. Colleagues track their progress and receive points for improved biometrics; change in health status; achieving health outcomes for BMI, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol; losing weight and participating in general well-being programs (including seminars and activities), health coaching or tobacco cessation programming.

For each level achieved, they are awarded $100, encouraging colleagues of all backgrounds and health statuses to continuously improve their well-being. Colleagues who participate in the annual biometric screening also enjoy a lower insurance premium contribution.

New colleagues receive information about Feel Good & Lovitt during their onboarding process; all colleagues receive program updates, ideas and success stories through a monthly well-being newsletter, posters, emails and information on the company intranet.

Moreover, colleagues have a hand in shaping the program. “A colleague-led committee serves as the voice of the workforce, and all colleagues have the opportunity to provide input into the content of our program through annual satisfaction surveys,” says Ellis. “Obtaining feedback from on-site health coaches and our wellness committee members ensures we have a fuller understanding of colleague needs.”


Plexus Worldwide – You Can’t Have Wellness without Health and Happiness

Scottsdale-based Plexus Worldwide is a health and wellness company that has been helping people transform their lives with science-based products for more than a decade. So, it should come as no surprise that this direct sales company has one of the best employee wellness programs in the state.

Plexus takes a holistic approach to wellness, providing professional and personal development opportunities for 400-plus local employees and 400,000-plus global Ambassadors (independent sales distributors). Its comprehensive wellness program covers a broad scope to help team members accomplish their physical, financial and emotional well-being goals.

The company subsidizes more than 80 percent of employees’ medical, dental and vision insurance costs, a major commitment in a time when health insurance rates have increased by 8–11 percent on average per year.

Additionally, two onsite wellness coaches call Plexus home. As the resident fitness champs, they provide onsite consultations, meet with new hires and lead wellness challenges and weekly fitness classes. Plexus also stocks its breakrooms with fresh fruit, massage chairs and, of course, its popular products.

“The focus on wellness makes me very proud of the company we’ve become,” says Tarl Robinson, CEO and founder of Plexus. “If you walk around Plexus’ headquarters, you’ll see a diverse group of women and men who are committed to enhancing the lives of those who support, promote and use our products.”

Robinson is a strong supporter of the local community, and in 2019 Plexus donated $500,000 to a variety of nonprofits. Plexus also offers employees 16 hours of annual Paid Volunteer Time, which they can use to support charities of their choice or one of the many events organized by Plexus Charities. Aligned with Plexus’ mission of health and happiness, employees volunteered 2,360 hours at local nonprofits in 2019 alone!

This passion for giving back is one of the many reasons Plexus has an excellent retention rate, with 41 percent of open roles in 2019 being filled by internal talent. “In today’s environment, you need world-class benefits if you’re going to compete for top talent, including a focus on employee well-being. Plexus is known as the Health and Happiness company, so people are naturally attracted our story,” says Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Beth Reisinger.

Plexus was named among the Best Places to Work for the last three years by Direct Selling News and named as a Scottsdale Chamber Sterling Award Winner in 2019 — no coincidence given the company’s investments.

When it comes to wellness, Plexus definitely walks the walk. —Joanna Gonos, Director of Internal Communications & PR at Plexus Worldwide


Walmart – Well-Being Is More than  Physical Health

We offer a number of services that address physical health, financial wellbeing, social and emotional well-being, and community.

Our ZP Challenge is a fun and inspiring app-based contest that rewards people for the changes they’ve made in food, family, money or fitness.

Using the Even app, our associates can access tools to help them plan ahead for bills and savings goals, eliminating the work of figuring out how much money is okay to spend. When unexpected expenses occur, our associates can access earned wages ahead of scheduled paychecks using the “Instapay” feature. These tools are available to all hourly and salaried Walmart, Sam’s Club and Walmart eCommerce associates.

Announced earlier this year, the Walton Life Fitness Pass offers gym memberships to associates and their families for as low as $9 per paycheck to as many as 9,000 facilities across all 50 states. In Arizona alone, we currently [at press time of early March] have 735 associates and 718 of their dependents enrolled in this program — a total of more than 1,400 participants since it was announced in January.

Resources for Living, and employee assistance program, is a service dedicated to promoting well-being and life success for all Walmart associates and their household family members. RFL is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to serve as a partner, coach or resource to navigate life challenges and opportunities important to our associates’ overall health and well-being.

We have two Quit Tobacco programs. Kick Butts, offering text messaging support for all associates plus two friends or family members, provides nicotine replacement therapy for all participants and tools to manage cravings and avoid temptations. QuitNet, offering online support for all associates, provides nicotine replacement therapy and telephone support with a trained health coach, along with encouraging email tips to help manage cravings and avoid temptations.

Results Speak Well

ZP Challenge is a great example of how Walmart rewards employees for making better choices to improve their well-being. To enter the contest, associates make as many better choices as they want during a 21-day period, share their story about their ZP experience, and can win one of many prizes. ZP has already awarded more than $1 million. In addition, when associates track their choices on the ZP app, they have the opportunity to win random surprises, just for being part of the ZP community.

We understand that it’s difficult to make changes, especially when it comes to making better decisions about health. To address this, Walmart encourages associates to make simple, small changes in everyday life and celebrate each achievement. Every better choice is a step forward in the right direction — that’s the foundation of the ZP Challenge.

Making the tools convenient also helps bolster participation. The Even and ZP Challenge apps are accessible any time to all of our associates.

We’ve also found that the tools and resources we’re providing are helping to build a community where our associates can be inspired by one another to make improvements in their lives. When our associates who are enthusiastic about their own results are able to share their stories, they help motivate others to do the same.

Three million people have committed to the ZP Challenge since 2013. The Even app launched with Walmart associates in 2015, and more than 600,000 associates have used it. The Walton Life Fitness Pass benefit launched in January 2020.

Our associates continue to respond positively to the programs we provide and we’re seeing very high participation. Walmart has a long history of providing comprehensive healthcare and benefits to our associates and we’re proud of the quality plans we offer, which are among the best in the retail industry. We believe that when associates have stability in areas like healthcare, maternity and parental leave, paid time off and retirement planning, they’re better able to bring their best selves to work. We’ve found that individual results have led to company results. The Even and ZP apps have led to an increase in associate satisfaction as well as more revenue per square foot in our stores.

And beyond that, as of May 2019, more than 70 percent of ZP Challenge users have lost 20 pounds and 95 percent spend more time with their families. —David Hoke, Senior Director of Health & Well-being for Walmart


WaFd Bank – Fostering a Preventive Approach to Well-Being

The challenge is meeting the needs of a workforce whose ages are fairly evenly distributed over a range from 18 to 64, with a few older as well, and range in life mileposts from those who are starting a family to those who are thinking about retirement.

WaFd, rather than implementing any specific wellness programs, expanded its benefit offering through external providers. The company’s focus is on preventive health awareness, and its benefit plans offer a wide range of opportunities for employee wellness. Among these are MD Live Telehealth Services available 24/7/365 — for less than doctor office copay; wellness discounts and deals, including a pet wellness plan discount; a maternity and paternity program; an employee assistance program; annual flu shot clinics; and travel benefits.

The company reports that it began making changes in 2015 and, each year, uses data (such as internal surveys, outside trends and exit surveys) to make decisions on the benefits. Reported annual turnover in 2016 was 27.69 percent; turnover for 2020 annualized is 20.41 percent.

It’s an overall culture that shows results in, among other examples, what Regional President Mike Brown proudly calls the “ridiculously long tenure of our employees.” Every month, the company acknowledges employee anniversaries, and Brown relates, “There are several at 15-plus years every month. A recent one was for 44 years!”

For company information, “HR teams post things on a shared service site that everyone visits,” says Liselle Cetone, Arizona regional HR coordinator. where we share company information. And having a local HR person — as opposed to directing everything across its eight states of operations from its Washington State home office — is important in understanding unique, local needs. Also, she says, “I send personal emails to remind people of various programs.” And in Arizona, a sense of community for the employees is built in such things as sponsored 5Ks — which includes getting together with clients — and walking groups.

Keeping a personal connection is part and parcel of company practices. Brown makes branch visits every month so as to communicate opportunities and other information directly to the employees — face to face as much as possible, or via video; it can be a stretch to reach all 31 branches in his division, he acknowledges. “When things happen, we try to get out there face to face as much as we can.”

WaFd’s “pay it forward” philosophy gives employees the reward of feeling they are making a difference in others’ lives. Brown recalls the response when, during the government shut-down a little over a year ago, Washington Federal instituted a program to offer interest-free loans to employees, customers and non-customers within the company’s footprint, ultimately helping 1,600 families — 750 in Arizona. “Employees knew we were helping people. There were hugs in the lobby; the whole bit,” he relates.

Regarding healthcare specifically, Brown says, “What we do is unusual — we don’t allow smokers.” He once told a new employee who came on board to work for him that, if she wanted to work for him, she had to quit smoking. He relates she later thanked him, saying she had wanted to quit for years. Such things help with the overall cost in the company, “so we can offer better benefits to our employees.”

A significant plus for the employees, Brown believes, is the company’s practice of once a year providing them with access to the total compensation package. “We wrap it into an overall culture: Stay healthy, be healthy, be a good person. Five years ago, our CEO created our mantra, ‘Love what you do? Make a difference.’”

Says Brown, “If you have a good culture in the workplace, you get healthier, too.”

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