Workers Crave More than Currency

domination concepts with apples

Losing weight isn’t always fun. Dropping the pounds is rewarding, but the journey can be tough. Very tough.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for your efforts? It turns out that doesn’t always entice employees, according to a new study.

Here’s a taste:

The study, published in January’s issue of the journal Health Affairs, reported the results of a yearlong randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of financial incentives to encourage weight loss among 197 obese employees of the University of Pennsylvania health system.

Participants were asked to lose 5% of their weight. Each was assigned to one of four study groups. The control group wasn’t offered any financial rewards. The three other groups were offered an incentive valued at $550.

People in one group were told they would begin receiving health insurance premium discounts biweekly immediately after reaching their weight loss goal. In another group, the people were told they would receive biweekly premium adjustments the following year if they reached their goal. Volunteers in the final group were eligible for a daily lottery payment if they met their daily weight loss goal and weighed in the previous day.

At year’s end, no group had met the 5% weight loss target. Participants’ average weight was virtually unchanged, whether or not they had a financial incentive to lose pounds. Nineteen percent of participants did meet the 5% target, but they weren’t concentrated in any particular group.

Spectrum Technology: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment

Penno_ThomasCall it a stroke of luck.

When Tom Penno, chief operating officer at Spectrum Technology, attended the Chamber’s Annual Human Resources Conference & Expo for the first time, he happened to sit next to Indiana Chamber director of human resources Michelle Kavanaugh.

“We don’t have a full-time HR person, so you get into some areas that you think, ‘I’m not sure how I should proceed with this,’ ” Penno reflects. “I got to talking with her and have touched base several times over the past six to eight months (via the Chamber’s free, confidential HR helpline) regarding how to proceed in delicate situations and for clarification on various issues.

“She’s clear and very good at coaching. She’s assisted us in helping employees through difficult situations.”

Indianapolis-based Spectrum provides IT-managed services. Clients represent industries ranging from manufacturing, law and accounting to marketing, public relations and architecture.

“We focus on companies from 20 people up to several hundred,” Penno explains. “We help them with strategic planning around their infrastructure to keep their core business up and running.”

He emphasizes that the HR Helpline “saves me time because she’s (Kavanaugh) incredibly responsive, and it saves me money because I’m not calling an attorney. It’s wonderful.

“I would say that without question, I don’t bat an eye now when I think of the annual Chamber membership dues. I do find myself wondering, ‘What else am I not tapping into?’”

Hylant: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment

Orr_Shannon2How do you share your company culture with a crowd of 1,200 in a fun, festive atmosphere?

It’s one of the perks that comes with sponsoring the Best Places to Work in Indiana Awards Dinner and program.

“It’s an environment unlike any other,” declares Hylant office manager Shannon Orr. “This was the second year we were the partner sponsor for the event. To be able to celebrate with clients and those on the list – that’s huge for us.”

A bit of background about the Best Places to Work in Indiana program: Honorees are announced each February, with rankings unveiled at the May awards dinner. Winners are recognized in four categories – small, medium, large and major – and selected based on employer reports and anonymous employee surveys.

Hylant, one of the largest privately-held insurance brokerage firms in the United States, was among the 100 companies that made the 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana list. It ranked No. 3 in the large employer category.

Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Hylant has offices in six states. Indiana locations include Bloomington, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

“Rolling out the red carpet” for team members and clients through training programs – particularly those that focus on human resources and wellness – is another way Hylant partners with the Chamber.

“It’s a great opportunity to invite clients and prospects to participate in something they’re interested in,” Orr emphasizes, “and to have meaningful, thought-provoking conversations on topics that matter to them.”

Elements Financial: Maximizing Its Chamber Investment Through Wellness

Shickel_ToddWhen people want to be healthy, they usually consider a balanced diet and regular exercise. Too often, though, they do not think of how their personal finances are part of their health.

Todd Shickel, assistant vice president of business development at Elements Financial (a Chamber member since 1999 with 150 employees), believes companies should take a more holistic approach to wellness. Elements Financial’s partnership with the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI) has allowed it to reach a new audience as an expert in the field of financial wellness.

“We found that sometimes employers have been hesitant in supporting their employees’ financial wellness,” Shickel explains. “We have been able to demonstrate to them the effect it has on their (employees’) performance at work. The stressors connected to that can impact physical health, which affects productivity and performance.”

Elements Financial is a credit union which works with businesses to help employees plan and manage their personal finances. The company is a premiere sponsor of the WCI and Shickel is a member of its board of advisors.

Shickel worked with Chuck Gillespie, executive director of the WCI, to learn about the five components of well-being: physical, financial, community, social and personal wellness. These components guided a company wellness program at Elements Financial that has improved the workplace. Elements Financial has been named as one of Indiana’s Best Places to Work for six years running.

“If you look at the five components of well-being, our company definitely has something in place for each of those and we can talk to other employers about it,” Shickel says. “We are practicing what we preach, and it gives us credibility.”

Shickel’s workplace also incentivizes wellness for its employees by giving “wellness points” that may add up to a gift or a reimbursement to employees’ health savings accounts. He says employees have really incorporated wellness into the office culture.

“Wellness doesn’t have to be this huge mountain that is impossible to climb,” Shickel assures. “If you reach out to the Wellness Council, you are going to find there are a lot of resources out there and ways to keep the costs down.”

Rochester’s Appraisal Management Research Co. Maximizes Its Chamber Investment Through Helplines

Cook_DavidDavid Cook has called Rochester home since 1989. One year later, he incorporated property tax consulting firm Appraisal Management Research Company (AMRC) — an Indiana Chamber member since 1993.

Its core team of six employees works with a variety of companies. “We’re small, but we accomplish a lot,” remarks Cook, who serves as president.

Remaining informed on state and local laws is critical. He describes how AMRC has benefited from the expertise of Bill Waltz, Indiana Chamber vice president of taxation policy.

“I’ve known Bill for a long time,” Cook shares. “He (on many occasions) would help us keep up-to-date on various changes in the property tax laws.”

In addition, Cook seeks free, confidential guidance on human resources matters by calling the HR Helpline.

“I like to get an opinion,” he asserts. “We do, as necessary, work with an attorney also, but Michelle (Kavanaugh, human resources director at the Chamber) was very helpful in reviewing our personnel policy guidelines and helping us update those. That saves quite a bit of money rather than an attorney doing that. It’s very helpful.”

Try This On for Size

iStock_000062439902_Large - Copy“Mirror, mirror on the wall. This lighting doesn’t work for me at all.”

My amusing poem is a fitting way to describe how shoppers are using “smart mirrors” to enhance their experiences.

Where have you been all of my life?

Let’s take a look at how the technology, which can be found in dressing rooms at places such as Ralph Lauren’s flagship store, works:

Equipped with radio-frequency identification technology that tracks items via their tags, the room identifies every item that enters and reflects it back on the mirror that doubles as a touchscreen. Shoppers can interact with the mirror, which functions like a giant tablet, to control the lighting, request alternate items or style advice from a sales associate.

“There’s this narrative that ecommerce collects better data – but online, it’s black and white. The physical world contains all these shades of grey that are truly interesting,” says Healey Cypher, who has built his career around twin concepts, namely that brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t going anywhere and the experience is in desperate need of a technological upgrade.

He’s working on it. Cypher is the CEO and co-founder of Oak Labs Interactive, the company behind the interactive mirrors, which just announced it has raised $4.1 million in a seed round led by Wing Venture Capital to bring refine the technology and bring it to more retailers. …

For retailers, the key draw is the wealth of collected data. By tracking each item that enters a dressing room, Ralph Lauren can determine how shoppers are interacting with its clothes. Is a jacket frequently being tried on, but isn’t selling? This likely indicates the look is popular, but the fit isn’t. Equally valuable: how customers interact with the touchscreen. Are they buying recommended items? How are they interacting with sales associates? Oak Labs analyzes the data and distills it into digestible and actionable insights.

This idea isn’t a new one – Nordstrom has experimented with interactive mirrors in its fitting rooms, and designer Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store in New York City has employed nearly identical technology for about a year, to huge results. Since its installation, the store reportedly tripled its clothing sales.

Read the full Entrepreneur story.

Why Is Pumpkin Spice Twice as Nice?

Autumn still life

It’s round. It’s orange. And it’s grown into a fall phenomenon that’s bringing in big bucks for a variety of businesses.

Behold the mighty pumpkin.

Pumpkin-inspired treats are everywhere. Even – gulp – in bacon. Perusing this list of 18 Must-Have Products for People Who Love Pumpkin Spice, I laughed. I cringed. And when I saw the pumpkin spice latte doughnut (courtesy of Krispy Kreme), I resisted temptation.

Why? Because too much of a good thing is … too much. With all due respect: Hold the pumpkin, people!

Pace Dairy of Indiana: Maximizing Its Chamber Membership Through Employee Training

Sarver_ShirleyShirley Sarver keeps a special reminder of her experience at the 2015 Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo with her every day.

“There was a saying that I absolutely loved,” comments Sarver, a production lead at Pace Dairy of Indiana in Crawfordsville (an Indiana Chamber member since 1998). “I don’t have Internet access at work, so I had my (IT) person send it to me (via) email so I could keep it with me.

“It says, ‘When people understand you, you get their attention. When people trust you, you earn their loyalty. When people know you really care, you catch their hearts.’ ”

One of the presenters shared the quote during a session on leadership.

“The class was very, very informative,” she asserts. “Since I’m a lead, I loved how he talked about being in the leadership role.”

Twenty years ago, a desire to help people attracted Sarver to Pace Dairy, a cheese plant operated by Kroger. It has two locations: Crawfordsville and Rochester, Minnesota. Each site has approximately 280 employees.

“I go out on calls. If they’re (workers) having problems on a line, I help troubleshoot,” she explains. “If I can fix it, I fix it. If I can’t, I get ahold of maintenance and help out where needed.”

Sarver, who has attended several of the Chamber’s annual safety conferences, values gaining knowledge that she can apply directly to her job.

“I think it’s very beneficial for the team because it gives us new ideas on what we can bring back here to the plant,” she reflects. “I would highly recommend the expo. You get to be one-on-one (learning about different products and services) instead of looking in a book.”

Maple Leaf Farms: Maximizing Chamber Investment Through Wellness

Christy_BobWhen Maple Leaf Farms’ facility took over the space occupied by an old elementary school in the small town of Leesburg, the building was nearly entirely gutted and changed, but one room remained the same: the gymnasium.

With the on-site gym and fitness center already in place and remodeled, Bob Christy, benefits manager, began to set forth a competitive wellness plan with a little help from the Indiana Chamber.

Chuck Gillespie, executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana, provided a wellness consultation to Maple Lead Farms to help the company determine how to move forward with its wellness program and answered questions from employees.

“I would highly recommend the consultation,” Christy asserts. “I think it should be a requirement. You need to do it once a year and have somebody (from the Council) talk to your whole group.”

For the past year and a half, Christy says Maple Leaf Farms has done “everything from poker walks to health challenges to biometric screenings.” The business’ efforts have earned it a Three-Star AchieveWELL certification from the Wellness Council of Indiana.

“When I started, (it took about the first year) to get most of the health programs set up,” Christy says. “Before that, the wellness program was kind of nonexistent. I spoke at the first annual meeting on portions … and that’s when I really got started.”

A wellness program that once was “nonexistent” now even has its own jackets – emblazoned with the words “Wellness Protection Program” and a picture of a duck, a very important symbol for the company.

Maple Leaf Farms is a family-owned business that raises and processes ducks; today it boasts 17 locations. The wellness plan now extends to all employees, regardless of their whereabouts, and each year, Christy spends two weeks on the road encouraging employees to complete biometric screenings and the Anthem health assessment.

Because Maple Leaf Farms leads the nation in the duck market, it often works with a lot of celebrity chefs and cooking initiatives. With its large kitchen and focus on healthy eating, Christy saw an opportunity to promote healthy eating through lunch-and-learns or quick dinners, meal prep demonstrations, vending machines with nutritious options and the upcoming fresh fruits on Fridays.

“We’re trying to do ‘Fruitful Friday,’” Christy explains. “We eat so much food here because there are always things going on in the kitchen.”

The wellness program continues to grow, with presentations from nutritionists and dieticians, new partnerships with the Warsaw YMCA and the potential of on-site chair massages. Maple Leaf Farm’s partnership with the Chamber and its attendance at Chamber conferences has improved its offerings for employees.

“The biggest thing with this (Chamber) membership is the resources that they have,” Christy says. “It’s some of the best you can get. It’s in Indiana, and it’s about Indiana. These people all work here just like us, and we deal with the same laws, the same tax codes, the same everything. It is about Indiana.

Taking the Digital Age Into New – and Very Green – Territory

36886821What does the world’s greenest office building look like? You’re about to find out.
The Edge (enticing moniker) towers over onlookers in Amsterdam and is home to 2,500 Deloitte employees … who don’t have desks.

Let me back up. There are desks, but employees aren’t assigned one of their very own. The space they occupy each day is based upon their schedule. They may get cracking on projects in the concentration room, along the sun-infused balcony, in the atrium – it’s called “hot desking.”

Living on The Edge (or at least working there) is all about innovation. Connectivity and going green are king. A smartphone app allows employees to control lighting and climate preferences at their workstations. Rainwater is collected for flushing toilets and irrigating gardens. A security robot stands guard. And that’s just the beginning.

Check out this short video and share your input: Brilliant work environment or too much of a good thing?