With 15 locations across six states with a total of 2,050 employees, Menasha, Wisconsin-based electrical contractors Faith Technologies counts on its "Wellness Chargers" in its company-wide corporate wellness program to increase participation and boost morale from its employees.
Also known as wellness champions, these wellness chargers act as the ambassadors for employees. Alyssa Kwasny, wellness program administrator, Faith Technologies, said she is determined to improve the health of her employees.
"Engineering can be a difficult profession for wellness," Kwasny said. "Sitting at a computer designing electrical components does not give you a lot of time to move and be active."
The company is a full-service specialty contractor with a design and engineering emphasis whose services include Automation and Process Controls, Design-Build, Electrical Contracting, Electrical Risk Management, Energy Efficiency, Mission Critical, Pre-construction, Telecommunications/Wireless, Security and Life Safety, Technology Solutions and Electrical Service.
Part of the wellness charger's duty is to design a month-long program tailored to that location's risks discovered by the health risk assessment (HRA). According to Kwasny, the wellness charger represents the most effective tool in the corporate wellness program.
The location specific programs cover a wide range of activities, usually with a twist to make it more fun and engaging. One location hosted the "MyFitnessPal Challenge", which used the MyFitnessPal app to encourage employees to track their nutrition and exercise and get them in the habit of tracking their health.
Another program, "Minute to Win It", tracked employees exercise activity down to the minute and had employees compete to get the most time. Another location hosted a program titled "Fitness Crack," based off the board game and app, Trivia Crack, which tested employees' knowledge of nutrition and fitness.
Starting in the Program
Most employees at Faith Technologies first engage with the wellness program by taking an annual HRA, which have been offered to employees since 2004. This is a crucial step because the results allow the program to see where each employee is terms of their health, divides the employees into categories by health risk and finally targets the employees with the highest risk. Completing the HRA is the first step to receiving a premium discount. Roughly 80 percent of employees complete an HRA each year.
If an employee receives a score of 71 or above, or an individual whose score was below 70 but improved by a minimum of five points, they will automatically receive the discount.
"If you are below 70 points and didn't improve your score by five points, you can still complete three telephonic health coaching sessions to receive the discount," Kwasny added. "We've seen a decrease within those in the extreme risk category by over seven percent since 2009 and an increase of employees in the minimal risk category by almost 12 percent."
Spreading the Message
Faith Technologies utilizes a number of methods to get their wellness message out, including newsletters, posters and lunch and learns. Lunch and learns cover a wide range of topics from a local grocer presenting on nutrition and making healthy choices to a yoga instructor explaining the benefits of yoga and stretching.
Making Workers Healthier
Each year, the company offers a 12-week program to encourage employees to move around and increase their energy levels. Each week, employees are provided information on how to stay active and to incorporate various exercise into the workday.
Kwasny also emphasizes the importance of eating healthy to a healthy lifestyle. All break rooms are stocked with fresh fruit, oatmeal and green tea all of which are free for employees.
Vending machines are stocked with at least 75 percent healthy items. Internal wellness guidelines state that a policy of ordering healthy food for all company meetings. The wellness committee at the main office make healthy eating a priority. They have even established a monthly "Healthy Snack Sampling Day" where the office is introduced to a healthy snack at no cost, unless the employee wants to buy the product to take home.
"We've offered kale, almond butter and powdered peanut butter, hummus, Greek yogurt dips, dried peas and edamame, fruit infused water, and Lara and Kind bars," said Kwasny. Beside the traditional health offerings, you can find in most wellness programs, Faith Technologies also offers employees chair massages and an onsite chiropractor.
By offering massages and chiropractic services onsite, employees reduce their stress and do not need to leave to office to treat a backache. And best of all, the employees love these programs.
"The onsite chair massage program at our corporate office has received such positive feedback that in 2016 we will be offering them monthly rather than every other month," reported Kwasny. The chiropractor is not free, but is in-network for the company health plan, so employees need only to pay a copay.
An internal survey at Faith Technologies taken four months after the start of the program revealed "It was convenient and helpful to have the onsite service so [employees] didn't need to take time away from the office.
Many revealed they were advocates of the program and wanted to see the program continue. "Participants in the various wellness programs receive more than healthier lives and premium discounts. Employees can receive a range of incentives including cash, gift cards, vacation days, weekend getaways, wearable devices, coupons for use in the company store, and branded wellness merchandise.
Measuring Program Success
With many wellness programs moving away from ROI, employers are utilizing other metrics to calculate if a program is working or not. Kwasny has decided that her program will focus on whether employees' health improves or not.
"The most prominent way we measure the success of our wellness program is hearing the stories of personal growth and success from our employees and their families. We see it in the numbers as well. In looking at our multi-year risk comparison analysis for our HRAs, we are discovering that the longer individuals participate in our wellness program, the healthier they are. Those who participated since 2008 increased their average score from 73.0 to 78.7 and the percentage of smokers has decreased by seven percent over the last six years," said Kwasny.
Some of these success stories show the impact the program is having on the lives of employees.
Kwasny shared one incident where an employee who took the HRA and discovered high blood sugar levels. She was drinking 10 - 12 cans of soda a day. After receiving their results, she went to visit her doctor and received a referral to a diabetes nutritionist.
The nutritionist helped her alter her diet drastically. She no longer drinks any soda, has normal blood sugar levels and no longer needs insulin.
"[The employee] credits the company's HRA process for alerting her to her medical issues and seeking the help she needed to start a healthier journey," said Kwasny.
The HRA is also responsible for saving the life of another employee. After taking the HRA, he discovered he had elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. He ultimately ended up at a cardiologist, who discovered the employee needed heart surgery.
During the procedure, the surgeons found multiple issues, which they were able to treat. Without the wellness program, he could still be walking around today with heart problems, unaware of the danger he is in.
A final success story Kwasny shared involved an employee whose HRA results showed an "extremely high level of calcium." Her doctor ordered a blood test and was able to diagnose her with primary hyperparathyroidism. The doctor needed to remove the offending gland. The surgery was a success, and thanks to early intervention further complications were prevented.
The Future of Wellness at Faith Technologies
The wellness industry is in a period of rapid change and advancement. The advent of social media, wearable devices and mobile apps have all played a hand in shaping wellness programs into the form they now take, and can possibly make or break a wellness program.
"It's key to keep these tools at the forefront of our wellness program," said Kwasny. "The majority of our employees work in the field, where they don't have access to a computer, and having portable options available for them could vastly increase participation and employee health."
Faith Technologies is gearing up for a 2016 launch of a wellness platform that would allow employees to connect their wearable devices or smartphones and participate in a variety of company challenges.
Kwasny also has dreams of extending the program beyond just the platform however. "With additional money we would integrate a robust wellness platform, as well as revamp our reimbursement program to increase the maximum dollar amount we off set, in order to include home exercise equipment, ergonomic equipment, wearable fitness devices, and weight management programs."
She also wants to expand the program to include onsite fitness and yoga classes in order to continue providing convenient, onsite wellness opportunities. Faith Technologies is providing employees with a wellness program that caters to their health needs, and employees are engaged and changing their lives for the better. As Faith Technologies and the wellness program continue to grow, the impact they make on the lives of their employees will only increase, Kwasny added.