Creating Healthy People: CHP’s Comprehensive Approach to Health for its Associates
You hear about companies that offer a few programs to help
their employees get on the road to better health—aerobics classes on site,
maybe, stress reduction programs, or similar efforts. But it’s not often that
you come across a company that offers such a comprehensive program as Catholic
Healthcare Partners “Creating Healthy People” program.
There’s very little about health that this program doesn’t
cover. And it’s done in such a creative, imaginative way that CHP associates are
actually enjoying it. Healthy Steps team competitions, seminars serving food
that fights cancer, weekly articles and monthly posters that speak to different
health issues, incentives for associates who participate , seminars discussing
balancing work and family…these are just some of the features of the “Creating
Healthy People” campaign.
Lori Gulley, Human Resources Manager at CHP, says, “We
wanted to improve associates’ awareness of their health status and empower them
to take control. Many of us are not in the habit of taking responsibility for
our health. We wait until something happens, and when it does, we wonder why and
wish we had made better choices that could have prevented it.
Gulley and her colleagues decided it was time to change
that. They selected a vendor, WellCorp, Inc., and got the program started with a
health risk assessment rollout last October. “We had 92 associates participating
in the rollout,” says Gulley. The assessment identified the five key areas that
associates needed to focus on: diabetes, weight management, nutrition, fitness
and coronary risk (including controlling cholesterol and high blood pressure).
Cancer wasn’t quite in the top five, Gulley says, but it was high on the list.
Through our “Creating Healthy People” program, we not only are making associates
more aware, we are giving them the tools and resources to do something positive
for themselves,” says Gulley.
The results also compared CHP to national averages,
explains Gulley. “In some areas our associates had results that were higher than
the national average. But in others, they were lower. For example, of those 92
people, 70 percent had a higher than average body mass index, or BMI.”
Awareness spurred participation
Gulley believes that as soon as people saw what their
health status was, they were ready to make changes. “We have a core group of
people who now have a desire to do something about their health,” she says.
So far, CHP has held a kickoff meeting and two seminars.
“We had 50 people at the kickoff,” says Gulley, who was pleased with that
turnout. The first seminar was called, “Myths and Realities of Healthy Eating
and Weight Loss.” At the second seminar, which was titled, “Can Food Fight
Cancer,” associates were served a catered meal consisting of foods that help
prevent cancer. “We received a lot of positive feedback about this seminar, both
relative to the content as well as the lunch provided,” Gulley says.
CHP also offers Weight Watchers at work, and pays half the
cost. Pilates is offered twice a week during the lunch hour, and again, the
company pays for half. They are in the process of conducting fitness assessments
and will offer a follow-up assessment in the late fall which will report
progress made. For the spring assessment, “We did a more comprehensive BMI test
using calipers,” explains Gulley. “And there was also a 3-minute step test to
gauge your heart health and a flexibility test.”
Participation in all of the CHP-sponsored programs is
voluntary but is increasing all the time. Excitement is building. “There’s a
positive buzz in the hallways,” says Gulley.
Incentives, competition foster camaraderie
Another component of the program is the Healthy Steps
Challenge. Participants form teams, receive pedometers and keep track of the
number of steps they take each day. Their goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps
per day. The individual and the team with the most steps will receive an award.
Gulley says that people really seem to be enjoying a sense of camaraderie and
healthy competition from this challenge.
There’s also a “Well Perks” form. Participants keep track
of their participation and accumulate points. They can get points for a variety
of activities, such as having routine health screenings, participating in the
seminars that are offered, trying the healthy recipes that are provided weekly,
etc. At the end of the year, those who earn points that fall within specific
ranges will be eligible to win prizes. Then, those that reach level three (the
highest level of points) will have their names put into a drawing for the grand
prize, which is three months’ worth of the money that is deducted from their
paychecks for medical insurance. In early December, the total points from the
Well Perks form will be tallied by the off-site consultant, and reported back.
CHP is committed to ensuring that associates’ results maintain confidential.
Only the outside consultant has access to this information. CHP is only provided
with aggregate or non-confidential information.
Even if associates haven’t participated in a specific
program, they still have the benefit of constant reminders throughout their
building. “We have health education posters up that talk about the risks of
obesity and the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight,” says Gulley. There
are also 5-pound replicas of actual fat located on three of our four floors.
“Two of our fat replicas are located in our break rooms, where a lot of people
eat their lunch. I’ve heard there’s a mad rush to sit where you’re not facing
the fat replica,” she laughs.
Why would companies make such an effort for their
Do you wish your company would sponsor a program similar to
CHP’s? Are you wondering how you might approach your human resources department
with a similar idea?
“Having a program like this shows that a company has the
best interests of its associates in mind,” says Gulley. “People could also point
out to their human resources department that although these programs are not
cheap, if companies fail to be proactive in the associates’ health, and provide
a wellness program, they’ll pay in the form of insurance claims, lost
productivity and sick time instead. Long before this wellness initiative was
started, CHP was an absolutely wonderful place to work. We are all very
fortunate to be a part of this organization. However, through programs like this
I think CHP will see an even higher employee morale, and will even better
position us as an employer of choice.”
More in store for next year
The “Creating Healthy People” campaign isn’t just a 1-year
effort. Health assessments will be performed again this October. “The results
will help us focus on what we need to do for next year,” says Gulley.
If this year is a good example, CHP associates have a lot
to look forward to.
Interview with Lori Gulley, Human Resources Manager for Catholic Healthcare Partners' Corporate Office.