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Sponsor Spotlight - Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

Posted By Laura Polas, Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts will be interviewing our corporate sponsors this year to learn more about their programs and share industry insights from their leaders and program managers. We were fortunate to have Lauren Koretzki, an active WWCMA member and sponsor, jump in and be our first interview for 2015. As always, thank you Lauren and Harvard Pilgrim for being a Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts corporate sponsor.

Can you tell us about Harvard Pilgrim’s work in Worksite Wellness? 

With BeyondHealth, Harvard Pilgrim’s wellness program, we offer comprehensive and strategic wellness programming that extends past the traditional focus of just diet and exercise, and actually gets at the root of behavior change. We know that in order for employees to be most productive, they need to be fully engaged in their health and well-being; and we know that means different things to each individual person. We meet with our customers regularly to understand their goals, various demographics and culture and to create and implement customized wellness strategies based on these factors. We continually evolve our program offerings to ensure that we can meet the needs of our diverse customers.

Worksite wellness programs are growing throughout Massachusetts. What trends are you seeing with Harvard Pilgrim’s customers?

We are seeing a growing interest from all of our customers in Worksite Wellness, regardless of group size or industry. This increased interest means our customers are looking at wellness as more of a necessary part of their employee offerings.

We also have seen a growing interest from our customers in programs that can be offered to both onsite and remote employees. Workforces are changing and we need to be able to support the shift that businesses are making so we now regularly make pre-recorded presentations, live webinars and videos part of our strategy so that a variety of demographics can participate.

Finally, we are seeing a surge in groups looking to do team-based challenges. The majority are looking at walking challenges and we have quite a few customers who have also found great success using devices such as Fitbits with these types of programs.

As always, we work with each group to support their needs and interests and make ourselves adaptable to the ever-changing landscape of Worksite Wellness so we can be their partner.

Do you have any insight on how Massachusetts is doing compared to other states? Can you share any corporate wellness success stories?

In addition to Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim is fortunate to do business in Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut so we do have our finger on the pulse of what is happening in corporate wellness throughout the area and I would say that Massachusetts is aligned with what is happening elsewhere in the region.

As for success stories, there are so many that it would be difficult to choose just one but I would say the biggest overall testament to success has been the growth in the interest of employers to offer these types of programs to their employees. In 2014, for example, we had more than 100 of our customers engaged in corporate wellness. As part of our BeyondHealth program, our teams supported our customers with:

• 1,400 health education programs on topics touching on all aspects of wellness
• 265 programs focused specifically on mindfulness; and
• Biometric screenings for almost 20,000 employees.

What should WWCMA members look for from Harvard Pilgrim in 2015?

WWCMA members should look to Harvard Pilgrim to further evolve our BeyondHealth program in a way that supports our holistic approach to Worksite Wellness and we are thrilled to continue to support WWCMA as platinum sponsors for the coming year.

Tags:  Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare  Worksite Wellness Programs  WWCMA Sponsor 

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WorkWell Massachusetts Awards Program –Are you game?

Posted By Kristina Weljkovic, Wednesday, April 1, 2015

We’re excited to launch our Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts Awards Program-WorkWell Massachusetts. The application process is open from April 1 –May 15, 2015.

Why did we start an awards program?

In keeping with our mission of promoting health and wellness, we will be assessing and awarding employers across the Commonwealth for their efforts in improving and maintaining healthy and productive workforces. Awards programs not only encourage employers to go the extra mile, but they also provide a platform upon which best practices are discussed and shared.We see it as our role to bring employers of all types together to share their successes and challenges, and so the WorkWell Massachusetts Awards make sense for our wellness community.

Applicants will be assessed within their own size category –small, medium, or large –and we encourage employers of all sizes to apply. We recognize that a small employer may not have the same resources as its large counterpart, and want to recognize that no two wellness programs are alike. We hope that you will find the application a learning process in and of itself, and another metric by which to take stock of your program over time.

Please remember that the application is two-fold: Part I is completion of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Scorecard and Part II is the WorkWell MA question set.

Applicants will need to complete both parts in full in order to be considered for an award. Applications are due May 15, 2015 and award winners will be announced at our annual conference on September 22 at Gillette Stadium.

Good luck to all!

Awards Committee

Tags:  workwell massachusetts awards 

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Q & A with Cathy Renda, Director of Employee Engagement at WinterWyman

Posted By Kristina Weljkovic, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
1. When you first started your wellness program, what were some of your main goals? What is your involvement with the wellness program?
Our main goals were to provide a balanced and engaging Wellness Program to employees; a program where there was something for everyone.  We wanted to help our employees better their overall health, in-turn improving the way they use health care services, as well as reducing their health-related costs. More important, we want our employees to feel better about their overall well-being. This translates into happy and productive people inside and outside of work. 

If employees are just starting to think about living healthier, we offer programs for them – if they are already living well, we have more advanced ideas to help them achieve their goals. Through WinterWyman’s wellness program and the active and healthy-minded people in our company, we have created a culture focused on celebrating and improving the quality of life for all employees. 

I joined WinterWyman in April of 2012 as a Sr. Human Resources Manager. Early on, I partnered with our Benefits Manager and together we co-chair the Wellness Committee, where we took on the task of taking our Wellness Program to the next level.

2. How long did it take to implement the wellness program?
It took several months to implement our Wellness Program. The legwork started back in April of 2011. In September of 2011, we designed and delivered an employee survey to gauge our employee’s interest in participating in a Wellness Program. Based on the positive responses, we formed a Wellness Committee and asked for employee volunteers to join. We held our first Wellness Committee meeting in December of 2011.

In early 2012, we defined the committee’s Vision and Mission Statements with input from our wellness specialist. Based feedback from the survey, we defined a roadmap of wellness awareness and education initiatives and started to implement them.

3. What were some of the hurdles to overcome with getting the program started?
Because our Wellness Committee is made up of volunteers who all have “day jobs,” and with this program being new to all of us, it took time to gain traction with our program. What helped us overcome the initial hurdles? Adding in additional resources from HR to support the program, laying out a clear roadmap of initiatives, meeting as group on a regular bases and engaging with an outside wellness partner to help design and deliver programs to our employees. 

4. Describe your program / company and how it works:
We offer various wellness initiatives throughout the year based on the roadmap we defined as a committee. 

These initiatives are often tied to the time of year or season. For example, we focused on cancer awareness/prevention during breast cancer awareness month in October. In the spring, after a long winter of idleness and less outdoor activity, we offered a step counting contest using Fitbits.

For each awareness initiative or contest, we communicate regularly to our employees via a monthly “Just for the Health of It” email, posting information on our Wellness board, and placing flyers in other areas of our offices. In addition, we offer employees a one-on-one coaching session with our wellness partner.

5. What would you say was one of the key components to the wellness programs success?
The absolute number one reason for the success of our Wellness Program is the complete support of our CEO and other members of our Executive Team. In addition, our partnership with Laurie Warren, an expert in worksite wellness, health and nutrition working at Warren Wellness, has helped us take our program to the next level. I don’t think we would have achieved the success we have had without her.  

I am happy to say that our hard work around wellness has paid off! WinterWyman was recognized in 2014 by the Boston Business Journal as one of their Healthiest Employers.

6. What keeps employees motivated? 
It’s hard to say, but overall I believe they are motivated by a culture shift we have seen in our offices. If you open up the refrigerators our staff use, you see a lot more healthy options in there than we used to. It’s not uncommon to overhear people sharing ideas and recipes in our kitchen at breakfast and lunchtime. 

We also have seen a wider adoption in our offices of standing desks. What started with one or two has become much more widespread. We try to keep this type of momentum going by continually offering new wellness learning opportunities and providing ongoing communication to our staff about our Wellness Programs.

Tags:  employee engagement 

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Q&A with Melissa Bodi at Choose Health at Sargent & Associates

Posted By Kristina Weljkovic, Friday, December 12, 2014

1. When you first started your program, what were some of your main goals? 
I first started my program because I noticed that an on-the-job injury, like a hurt back, was more traumatic and took longer to heal when a worker was in poor physical health. I believed that I could help companies address this problem, so I started Sargent & Associates to advise businesses on preventative health and safety 

2. How long did it take to implement your program? What were some of the hurdles to overcome with getting it started? 
At first my clients were more interested in regulatory safety requirements and on-the-job health issues, but in the past five years or so they have started asking for more programs addressing overall wellness. 

3. Describe your program / company and how it works:
We are a small 15 employee- Health, Wellness and Lost Prevention company.  Our Wellness Committee consists of several key positions:  a Project Manager, a Wellness Champion, a Wellness Compliance Officer, and a Wellness Coordinator, program communication specialist.  Together we set goals and objectives for our wellness program but each one of us has our own responsibilities for the program.  As President of the company, I provide my staff with an online wellness portal, a fully functional gym, and healthy snacks in the lunch room.  I encourage stretching breaks, walks to the farmers market and walking meetings on the bike path outside our office.  Our staff meetings involve a component of wellness for example- after our general meeting we provide programs such as Laughter Yoga, Mindful Meditation and cooking demonstrations.  I also host a TV series that promotes health awareness and education and is available for employees to view.  We are given a Wellness Day each year for annual wellness checkups and are encouraged to work from home if ill.

Cynthia, our Wellness Project Manager plans the overall operational aspects of the Worksite Wellness programs and services.  She develops, implements and monitors the effectiveness of our wellness programs.  She serves as a liaison between the wellness committee and employees and chairs our internal wellness committee.

Amy is our Wellness Coordinator and program communication specialist. She designs wellness workshops and events through our online wellness portal and creates wellness tips and posts them internally and through social media and corporate –e-blasts. She maintains a digital frame and health and wellness tips in the office and kitchen, and maintains our wellness blog.

Barbara, our Wellness Compliance Officer updates our online health and wellness portal which provides a platform where employees can track their weights, blood pressures, cholesterol, design their own meal plans and exercise programs, take online wellness workshops and have access to an online educational health library.  She assists with measurement and reporting of the wellness program outcomes.  

4. What would you say was one of the key components to your wellness programs success?
I am very passionate about getting my workers involved. I wanted to create a culture of health in the offices, as about 80 percent of the office generally participates in the fitness challenges. In addition, instead of using vending machines, I stock the offices with health snacks, such as fresh fruit. I also allow flexible schedules so workers can fit in workouts. 
I think much of the success comes from changing the small things in the office, such as not having an automated answering system so when a call comes in, whoever answers it has to get up and find the call’s recipient instead

5. What kept employees motivated? 
Making this program a success involves developing a relationship with employees by providing support, knowledge and encouragement as they improve their health.  Our challenges and programs are always fresh and geared toward current employee interest.  We are also fortunate that we have such executive leader commitment to the wellness of our employees because without this support our program would not succeed. 

Tags:  Q&A  wellness programs 

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Success at Southcoast Hospitals Group Wellness Program Success: A Q&A with Wellness Coordinator Kristi Aimone

Posted By Kristina Weljkovic, Friday, November 14, 2014
1. When you first started your program, what goals did you establish? 
Our main goals were to increase awareness of our employees’ overall health and wellness, and to improve the health of our employees. We also wanted to increase participation in HealthQuest programs and to reduce long-term healthcare costs.

2. Could you describe your company and how it works:
Southcoast Health is community based health delivery system with multiple access points, offering an integrated continuum of health services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and East Bay, Rhode Island.  It includes three hospitals that make up Southcoast Hospitals Group, and has approximately 7,000 employees, making it the employer in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Our employee wellness program was introduced in 2006 with a “Name our Wellness Program” contest as a way to get employee buy in.  Over 1,000 employees voted on HealthQuest.  Since then we have provided a variety of programs that focus on employee interests and needs such as biometric health screenings, health risk assessments, wellness portals, wellness related events, yoga, meditation, tobacco cessation and weight management/nutrition classes as well as farmer’s markets.  These are available to all employees of Southcoast Health and in some cases available to their spouses.  In 2011, wellness incentives were tied into premium savings to employees who subscribe to our Health Plan and alternative incentives for employees not on the Health Plan.  Each year engagement and participation in all programs and events have increased and for five years our health plan costs have not increased.  

3. What would you say was one of the key components to your wellness programs success?
Designated, dedicated and accessible HealthQuest staff as well as early employee buy in to the wellness program was important. The HealthQuest programs and events are based on employees’ risks need and interests based on health risk assessment findings.  For example, stress was identified as a top risk for employees, so the company implemented a series of yoga and mediation classes. Biometric health screenings uncovered health risks that employees were not aware they had
We are also closely with in house food vendor to promote healthy eating by offering healthy menu options as well as discounted prices for healthier food choices. In addition, fryolators were removed from the cafeteria. 

4. What was the biggest challenge that you faced during your wellness program? Did you meet any resistance?

In the early stages of HealthQuest, selling the idea of wellness and health promotion to healthcare was not an easy sell. Wellness has many different meanings to individuals so the challenge was offering programs and events that encompassed as many of these meanings was crucial while at the same time aligning them with Health Quest’s mission and vision.  

Employees are not always open to change, especially when it comes to making healthy behavior changes. Changing a lifetime of cultural elements and behaviors is an ongoing process.   

5. What made your wellness program stand out from different wellness programs? What kept employees motivated?

For some it is not just the raffles or health incentives, it’s the financial incentives. Employees and their spouses who are non-tobacco users can earn more in premium savings; alternatively employees who use tobacco can still earn premium savings by participating in wellness incentives but at a lesser amount. 
We also have various departments working together toward providing healthier options, programs, events and support for our employees, making it unique.

Tags:  wellness programs 

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Top 3 Takeaways from the Benchmarking Survey

Posted By Kristina Weljkovic, Friday, October 31, 2014

We collaborated with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to conduct a benchmarking survey that addressed a range of topics relating to worksite health promotion initiatives.

Here are some highlights from the results:

  1. Leadership commitment matters. Organizations where senior management actively participates have higher wellness program success rates.

  2. Incentives work. Companies that incorporate incentive programs received higher CDC scores* than those that do not offer incentives. 

  3. Micro/small businesses are not far behind large organizations in Massachusetts. In fact, in some areas they exceed large businesses. For example, 3% of micro/small businesses have a wellness plan vs. 2% of large businesses.

*The Center for Disease Control (CDC) Worksite Health ScoreCard is a validated tool designed to help employers assess evidence-based health promotion interventions in the workplace.

For more information, download the report.

Tags:  benchmarking survey 

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A Resource Guide for Worksite Wellness

Posted By Kristina Weljkovic, Friday, October 31, 2014

Have you ever wished you could find all of the information you need for your wellness program in one place? We did too. That’s why we teamed up with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to create Health Workplaces: A Resource Guide for Worksite Wellness. The guide was first published in September 2013 and contains listings of non-commercial, publicly available resources.

The latest version was just released last month.We view this resource guide as a living document that will continually evolve as health and wellness initiatives grow in the workplace.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s inside:

  • General Worksite Health PromotionLeadership Support and Supportive Organizational Culture
  • Program Design and Implementation
  • Benefit Plan Design
  • Data and Evaluation Management
  • Training, Education and Certification
  • Health Fair Resources
  • Research Tools and Resources for Chronic Illness
  • And more!

Click here to download the guide

Tags:  resource guide 

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Spotlight on the WWCMA Keynote Speakers

Posted By Colleen Caruso, Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our annual conference is just over a month away!  Here are three facts about each of our speakers.  Read their full biographies here and don’t forget to register before we sell out!

Dr. Fikry Isaac, MD

    He has two titles - Vice President of Global Health Services at Johnson & Johnson and Chief Medical Officer at Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company

    He was awarded the Leadership in Health Care Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at their 2nd Annual Health Care Summit in October of 2013. This award is given to an individual who shows how innovation by employers can strengthen the U.S. health system and improve health outcomes nationwide.

    He wrote a blog entitled Continuing to Lead by Example Johnson & Johnson Recognized for Global Cancer Prevention and Support in the Workplace

Dr. Kent Bradley

   He also has two titles - Chief Medical Officer for Safeway, Inc. and President of Safeway Health, a subsidiary of Safeway Inc. Safeway Health provides solutions that engage employees to become active health consumers that results in improved health and reduced cost.

   He’s a graduate of the United States Military Academy and has a Master in Public Health from the University of Minnesota, a MBA from the University of Denver, and his Medical Degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD.

   He wrote a blog entitled “How High Do You Bounce

Tags:  Keynote Speakers  WWCMA  WWCMA Annual Conference 

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Healthy Massachusetts Cities and Towns

Posted By Colleen Caruso, Thursday, June 26, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Written by Colleen Caruso, WWCMA Member and Marketing Committee Member

As a human resources professional with a strong interest in wellness, I feel happy when I see that more and more communities are doing more to make it easier to make healthy choices.  By building parks and bike paths, offering free community fitness classes, and promoting healthy eating, these communities are working to create a culture of wellness.   Employers in these areas can take advantage of these resources and may want to partner with their community to further enhance the program and partnership with their community.

Here are a few Massachusetts communities that support working on wellness!

Somerville’s Shape Up Somerville 

Somerville offers an easy commute into Boston and Cambridge and a fun social scene for students and young professionals.  According to their web site, “Shape Up Somerville” is a 15-year strategy to build and sustain a healthy community in collaboration with partners for everyone that lives, works in and visits the city.

Their mission includes:   

•    Work within the “Collective Impact” Framework grounded in a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, with SUS acting as the backbone support organization      

•    Focus on ‘Systems Change’, engaging all sectors and levels of the community including local government, businesses, schools, non-profits, healthcare, grass-roots organizations, and individuals, to create policy change 

•    Address the Social Determinants of Health, focusing on engaging at risk populations, including but not limited to: ethnic minorities, immigrants, low-income residents, and non-English speakers

•    Increase Access to Healthy Food: Food Rescue System, Affordable Farmers’ Markets, School Gardens/Farm to School, Healthy Restaurant Campaign, School Food Service Improvements, Urban Agriculture Connections, Worksite Wellness

•    Increase Access to Physical Activity opportunities: Extension of the Community Path, Green Line Subway Extension, Structured Physical Activity throughout the School Day, Walkable and Bikeable Streets and Neighborhoods, Worksite Wellness

Boston’s Office of Food Initiatives

This office was established in 2010 to engage the Boston Food Council, partners, and City departments to address directives set forward by Mayor Menino.  This group is responsible for the food trucks and farmers’ markets that have appeared around Boston over the past few years.   According to their web site, their initiatives are to:

  1. Increase access to healthy and affordable food in schools, farmers markets, and stores, educate the public about healthy choices, and promote food benefits to reduce hunger and obesity;
  2. Expand Boston’s capacity to produce, distribute and consume local food through urban agriculture and distribution models to supply schools and local businesses;
  3. Build a strong local food economy through financing and supporting local food retail and distribution businesses; and
  4. Expand private and public partnerships to advance the food agenda.

Tags:  Cities  Massachusetts  Towns  Wellness 

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Wellness Collaboration & Networking

Posted By Colleen Caruso, Friday, June 6, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Written by Colleen Caruso. WWCMA Member & Marketing Committee Member

Studies have shown that people who work to develop healthy behaviors with a friend or group have more success as they feel accountable to someone other than themselves.

As worksite wellness professionals, we see how motivating wellness challenges can be as employees will participate and motivate to succeed to win and not let down their team members.

Collaboration can also work to your advantage when designing your wellness program. Sharing ideas with other wellness professionals can help develop and enhance your program.

The Worksite Wellness Council provides some great opportunities for sharing ideas either through social networking or in-person networking. Check out some of the opportunities here:

- June 11th - Attend the Summer Soiree on June 11th from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Hotel Indigo in Newton to meet wellness professional, Larry Chapman, founder of the Chapman Institute, and other Massachusetts wellness professionals.

- Participate on the WWCMA's Linked In and Twitter pages

- Collaborate on the next edition of Healthy Workplaces.  Last year, the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health, published the first version of the Healthy Workplaces: A Resource Guide for Worksite Wellness.

We are currently revising the guide and are seeking input on suggested additions to the guide. The guide consists of publicly available, free resources. No commercial resources are included in the guide.

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The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) is the preeminent, independent and objective resource for health promotion in the workplace and champions wellness programs to help employers encourage healthy employees, healthy families, and healthy communities across the Commonwealth.