The Akron General Wellness Champion Awards were created in 2007 by Akron General Health System to honor community leaders individual and corporations/organizations that have made impressive strides toward improving the personal health of employees. This year, three organizations and three individuals have been named Wellness Champions.
City of Dublin
When the city of Dublin faced cutbacks in its budget a few years ago, the municipality didn’t want to reduce any of the health care benefits it offered. But a comprehensive study revealed doing nothing would result in a nearly 47 percent increase in claims costs over the next three years.
So in 2006, city officials began a wellness program, Healthy by Choice, which was tied to the benefit program by targeting risk management, prioritizing health behavior change over health care costs and offering incentives.
The main incentive is a 100 percent waiver of an employee’s health care premium contribution and a free recreation center membership. Other incentives can be purchased through “healthy bucks” that are earned by participation in voluntary wellness programs. Bucks are redeemed for existing recreation center programs and services already being provided to the public.
Healthy by Choice was first implemented with the city’s nonunion staff, which comprises 52 percent of Dublin’s work force. To reach employees and their families, the city developed a centralized Web site with benefit plan and program information that was used to show employees how wellness behavior and benefits are linked.
In the first three years, the program has proven successful. The city increased its low-risk employee population to include more than 72 percent of its covered adult population. Also, the high-risk group was reduced from about 11 percent to 7 percent. In cost terms, each person who moved from high to moderate risk reduced claims costs by nearly $2,200, while each person who moved from moderate to low risk saved $700. Because of these results, the city negotiated Healthy by Choice into two labor agreements and hopes to do so with its final union contract in 2009.
InfoCision Management Corp.
At InfoCision Management Corp., the management team believes that a happier, healthier employee is a better employee. That’s one reason why the company developed comprehensive health and wellness programs for its team members.
The company’s InfoFitness program provides employees with access to on-site fitness centers that cost only $15 per month and are run by InfoCision’s health and wellness coordinator, a certified personal trainer. In addition to state-of-the-art facilities, numerous fitness classes are offered at the centers.
InfoCision’s InfoWellness program includes an on-site physician. Employees and their family members who are covered under the company’s health insurance can see the corporate physician at a reduced co-pay rate.
Annual on-site health fairs are held at each of InfoCision’s 13 locations and feature representatives from the company’s insurance providers, health organizations and local wellness experts. Employees can also get free blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.
Each year, InfoCision holds its Weight Loss Wars, where employees compete for cash to see who can lose the most weight. And in 2008, the company began offering paid maternity leave.
In April, the company launched its InfoKids Early Learning Childcare Center in Dayton and plans are underway to open an InfoKids Center at the Akron headquarters.
All of the moves continue to pay dividends. More than 60 employees quit smoking. In 2007, employees made 769 visits to the on-site corporate physicians. And in an environment where many companies have been forced to cut back on benefits, InfoCision continues to look at ways to add more.
SS&G Financial Services
SS&G Financial Services embarked on its wellness agenda three years ago when it started offering CEO Bootcamp, an intense six-week course composed of fitness drills and nutrition goals.
The course was well-received, so last year, SS&G formally launched a comprehensive employee wellness plan, taking CEO Bootcamp to the next level with an ultimate goal to decrease absenteeism, increase productivity, reduce medical claims, and improve recruitment and retention.
SS&G’s plan, Wellness@Work, incorporates physical fitness, wellness education and health services.
A six-week fitness course is offered quarterly and includes programs such as self-defense, spinning and yoga. The classes focus on teaching fitness basics and encourage the development of healthy fitness habits. In addition to the course, SS&G participates in the Cleveland Corporate Challenge and the Road Runner Akron Marathon.
In 2008, SS&G began offering on-site nutritional seminars. Employees can attend the seminars in person or via videoconference. The company also added a bimonthly wellness newsletter.
SS&G coordinates the administration of annual flu shots for employees, hosts a smoking cessation program and brings in a masseuse for inexpensive chair massages on a regular basis. And, as part of its health insurance, SS&G provides a deductible credit program for all employees whereby individuals can lower their annual deductible amount by up to $800 based on health testing.
So far, more than 63 percent of SS&G’s 400-plus employees are participating in Wellness@Work. SS&G’s health insurance rates have been contained, increasing an average of only 4.3 percent over the past few years as compared to the average rate of 11 percent.
Michael, Metcalf Wiant, Copley
Michael Metcalf Wiant is interested in what motivates you.
Find the time to squeeze in a run, play some basketball or go for a swim, and Wiant will help you adapt a training system that fits your life and your passion, because that’s his passion.
From setting up morning runs to getting together a group to train for a triathlon, Wiant’s main goal is to understand what motivates you as a person by getting to know where you want to be and why. Once he has that staked out, he includes you in his fitness and faith community, working to connect with you as well as connect you to others of similar interests.
Wiant is not afraid to pursue you when you beg off fitness, either. Wiant is famous for taking in friends of friends who need to make a personal commitment to their fitness. Mixing his motivational skills with his personal touch, he’ll gladly call you up to introduce himself and then offer any help he can give to get you back in shape. He doesn’t charge for those sessions, and he isn’t interested in making a dime off of them. His goal is for everyone to make a big commitment to his or her health, and that is his compensation.
He sets high goals he passed out 120 fliers in his own neighborhood offering to help train people because he wants to lead a group of 25 in a 2009 triathlon and he follows through on a daily basis.
He even helps those who can’t find the time to regularly exercise with his group, offering tips on to keep physical movement high on the priority list. So the next time you have doubts about your own ability to keep to a workout regimen, call Wiant and let him help you. He won’t just keep on you to stay healthy; he’ll help create a system that will improve your livelihood.
Matthew Adams, Mentor
Matthew Adams does a little bit of everything at Mentor Ridge Junior High School.
He teaches, he coaches, he runs the athletic program, and he leads by example.
Adams doesn’t just stand in front of the class and offer tips on healthy lifestyles, he engages students before, during and after school to help them get the most out of their lives. Additionally, he shows them the path in the way he carries himself.
How does he talk the talk and run the run? First, Adams has instituted a robust group of programs into the school to get kids more active. In his physical education classes, he had students participate in a 10,000-Step Challenge, having them wear pedometers that track their steps. He had them take 2,000 steps per day in his class, aligning the program with the USDA’s guidelines for a healthy lifestyle. He also created a ‘Biggest Loser Challenge,’ investing 18 weeks in a program spun off from the television show that promotes physical fitness and healthier diet decisions.
He also showed students the way by instituting things like the students versus staff basketball game. The game not only is a fun way to exercise, but it is also a great example for the kids to see their role models getting out and doing what they tell the kids to do. In order to make the game happen, Adams stepped up to find a sponsor, collect donations and get the teams together.
Finally, Adams has gone above and beyond the daily call of duty, taking time to coach and lead kids away from the classroom. Along with that mindset, he also tied his students’ health into his graduate work, spending a semester doing a research project on school lunches and the steps needed to make them healthier.
The end result is that Adams’ students see an educator who isn’t just telling them what to do; he’s running in front of them asking to follow along. As they start to keep up, they truly begin to appreciate the effort that Adams is putting forward.
Kevin O’Shea, Akron
You can slow down Kevin O’Shea but not for long.
A longtime advocate for healthy living, O’Shea had a rollerblading accident in July 2007 that left him hospitalized with serious injuries. During that time, he lost 40 pounds, was unable to get out of bed and spent weeks in intensive care.
His recovery was painful. He was eventually moved to Edwin Shaw for rehabilitation, but he immediately took to the intense therapy, and one year later, he was back to his busy lifestyle. Today, he’s back to working as a tutor in the Akron Public School system, working as a creative arts instructor for the Barberton Magical Theater and is in constant demand as a tree surgeon.
Not only has O’Shea used his new lease on life to further his interest in sharing health and wellness ideas with his students, but he’s also made himself a living life lesson. In fact, upon his return to teaching, one of the first things he did was make a public address announcement about the importance of helmet safety. By February 2008, O’Shea had recovered enough to enroll in and pass the Red Cross Lifeguarding, First Aid/Rescuer Class. His amazing recovery sets an example for everyone in his life, most notably his students.
Beyond caring about personal physical health, O’Shea also care about the environment. He knows that part of the enjoyment of physical fitness is the world around us, so he’s made an effort to plant trees wherever possible. In fact, he and his ESL students wrote a play last April that was based on the deforestation of the rainforests. The ending point to the play was a logger who turned his back on his profession and planted trees instead of cutting them down. In conjunction with that play, O’Shea and his students went out and planted new trees.