Brew Up a Formula for Wellness at Annual Summit (Oct. 3-4)

Learn how to combine five key factors to create the perfect Formula for Wellness at your organization by attending the Indiana Health and Wellness Summit on October 3-4, presented in partnership by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI).

“It will hit on all elements of wellness: mental, physical, purpose, community and financial,” remarks WCI executive director Jennifer Pferrer. “It’s important that purpose is a focus of the conversation. Connecting employees to purpose allows them to be more balanced in their well-being and more engaged in the workplace.”

The event, which is Indiana’s largest gathering of workplace wellness professionals, will take place at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis. Topics include legal updates, engaging the community, using data technology, exploring food deserts and more.

Additional highlights:

Keynote presentation: Changing the World Through Food by chef, author and food equity advocate Michel Nischan (opening general session)

Keynote presentation: Adding More Meaningful Purpose to our Communities Through Sharing Acts of Kindness by former media executive and best-selling author Laura Schroff (morning general session: October 4)

Keynote speaker: Bryan Mills, Alliance for a Healthier Indiana and president and CEO of Community Health Network

Choose Your Own (Wellness) Adventure! A fast-paced session in which attendees can hear four different presenters speak on four topics of their choice.

AchieveWELL Awards Luncheon honoring Three-, Four- and Five-star organizations that have participated in the WCI’s comprehensive assessment and evaluation.

“The mission of the Wellness Council is really built around the wellness conversation around the state and bringing resources together to help organizations learn from each other. The Wellness Summit is a great example of that,” Pferrer adds. “Wellness isn’t a one-time event; it’s a year-round engagement. We’ll be taking what we hear at the Wellness Summit and facilitating discussions through 2018 until next year’s program.”

Register online at www.IndianaWellnessSummit.com or contact Nick at (800) 824-6885.

Delta Dental of Indiana is the presenting sponsor. Platinum sponsors are Gibson, OurHealth and Washington National. Gold sponsors: Apex Benefits and Dental Health Options by Health Resources, Inc. Silver sponsors: Complete Wellness Solutions, Hancock Health, Indiana Vein Specialists, IU School of Public Health – Bloomington, NovoNordisk, PHP and R2 FIT.

Help Employees Manage Back-To-School Stress

School is back in session for many and this means your employees are readjusting their family routines. The school year brings hectic morning schedules, rushing to get children on the bus and busy nights helping with homework, carpooling to sports practice or attending extracurricular activities. Encourage your employees to establish new wellness routines during this transition period to keep the whole family happier and healthier.

Back to school time creates stress on parents and kids as they try to juggle work, school and home life. These stressors for your employees are often brought to the office with them. Offer programs to decrease stress and help employees connect with their families. Our Quest to Stress Less turnkey program, found on the members-only online resource center, can help employees manage the school year stress.

On a similar note, consider implementing sleep programming. Help your employees get a better night’s sleep and feel more rested, so they can be more productive during the workday.

Back to school time also means children may be bringing home pesky germs. Employers should promote good hygiene such as hand washing, keeping workstations clean and knowing when to stay home when sick.

At the same time, promote healthy nutrition. Distribute healthy lunch or dinner recipes, so busy parents can make meals on the fly that are delicious and nutritious. Concentrate on higher protein and fiber packed meals that will leave employees and their families energized and focused.

Finally, just as children are tempted to unwind in front of the TV for hours after school, your employees need to take screen-time breaks as well. Encourage frequent breaks throughout the day in which employees get up from their desks to take a short walk, stretch or eat a healthy snack.

If you need more ideas for how to foster healthy employee routines for back to school time, visit our online resource page and its 122 low-cost or no-cost ideas for worksite wellness. Contact the Wellness Helpline at (317) 264-2168 with questions.

National Emergency Declared for Opioid Crisis; Donnelly and Walorski Applaud President’s Action

Building upon the recommendations in the interim report from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, President Trump recently instructed his administration “to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.”

Both Sen. Joe Donnelly and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) issued statements supporting the decision:

“I am pleased that President Trump plans to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. We know that it will take all of us working together to effectively turn the tide against this public health crisis that has harmed so many families in Indiana and across the country,” Donnelly said. “I hope this declaration will lead to necessary, additional resources for states and local communities to ensure those battling substance use disorders can access treatment.”

Walorski stated: “Opioid abuse is having a devastating impact on our communities, and President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency treats this epidemic with the urgency it requires. I will continue working with my colleagues and the administration to make sure first responders, law enforcement, medical professionals, treatment providers and families in our communities have the tools and resources needed to solve this crisis.”

Congress last year passed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), bipartisan legislation to address the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Congresswoman Walorski served on the conference committee that negotiated the final bill, which included two provisions she authored. One requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to participate in state prescription drug monitoring programs, and the other allows the VA to use FDA-approved medical devices and other non-opioid therapies to treat chronic pain. Donnelly also helped enact CARA, which included several of his provisions. Additionally, Donnelly helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act into law, which includes a $10.9 million federal grant that will support prevention, treatment and recovery services in Indiana.

More recently, in late July, Donnelly introduced a bipartisan package of legislation “aimed at providing the facilities and access to telemedicine needed “to prevent and treat substance use disorder in rural communities.”

Job Losses Have Lasting Impact

The ripple effects of large-scale job losses linger for years and can keep adolescents from attending college later in life, according to new research carrying significant ramifications for policy makers, college recruiters and counselors.

Poor middle school and high school students who live through major job losses in their region attend college at significantly lower rates when they are 19 years old, according to new research published in the journal Science. A 7% state job loss when a student is an adolescent is tied to a 20% decline in likelihood that the poorest young people will attend college.

Local job losses hurt adolescent mental health, researchers found. Job losses also cut academic performance. The negative impacts are not limited to children from families where parents lost jobs – they extend to those who witness their friends, neighbors and others in the community being affected by layoffs.

Researchers argue that large-scale job losses are not simply economic events touching directly affected families. They are community-level traumas, said Elizabeth O. Ananat, an associate professor of public policy studies and economics at Duke University who is one of the lead authors of the paper appearing in Science.

“Worse mental health and worse test scores, they are all going to be blows to you that knock you off the path,” Ananat said. “That was a difficult path to begin with.”

In the economic theory, a student may have watched their father lose his job when a mine closed. Or they watched a friend’s mother be laid off when the local factory downsized. Those students should then be drawn to a college education because of the promise of larger financial returns and more stable employment in the newly developing knowledge economy.

In other words, economic theory has tended to focus on the idea that a shrinking pool of blue-collar jobs increases the relative return on investment of a college education. But it’s not working that way in the real world.

“Economists tend to think about it as a change in relative prices – the return changes,” Ananat said. “They miss the fact that it’s an emotional blow, like another kind of community trauma would be.”

‘Time is Money’ Leads to Stress

Do you think of time as money? That view may be damaging your health. Research by Jeffery Pfeffer and Dana R. Carney demonstrates that people who are keenly aware of the economic value of their time generally are more psychologically stressed.

The researchers were inspired by previous research on why lawyers often are unsatisfied with their careers. That study concluded that attorneys, whose time is accounted for in billable minutes, are hyperaware of the ticking clock that rules their work lives. Even when they’re not working, they’re thinking about how much income they’re forgoing during off hours, including time with friends and family.

To demonstrate the effects of time-money awareness, Pfeffer and Carney conducted an experiment in which half of the working subjects were asked to calculate their per-minute pay rate, while the other half were not. Even though both groups worked the same number of hours and got paid the same, the cortisol levels were almost 25% higher in the time-is-money group, whose members also seemed to find less pleasure during two breaks in the experiment.

Elevated cortisol is linked to many health problems, such as anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, headaches, sleep problems, decreased immunity, weight gain and cognitive impairment. “A rise of almost 25% is a serious health consequence,” says Pfeffer.

This phenomenon is particularly disturbing as more workers piece together incomes in the so-called “gig” economy. Rather than being on a full-time payroll, they’re more focused than ever on the economic value of time.

Employer Survey: Skilled Workers Scarce; Few Take Advantage of Tuition Reimbursement

A new employer survey from the Indiana Chamber shows concerning trends in workforce shortages, tuition reimbursement and response to prescription opiate abuse.

“Too often employers can’t find the workers they need, and those currently employed aren’t taking advantage of tuition reimbursement that would put them in better positions,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

More than 1,100 businesses from throughout the state took part in the Indiana Chamber Foundation’s 10th annual employer survey, sponsored by WGU Indiana and conducted in partnership with Indiana-based Walker.

Specifically, research shows that nearly half (47%) of employers left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants. That extended a trend from the previous three years in which the answers to that same question were 39%, 43% and 45%, respectively.

Additionally, almost 80% (79%) percent cited filling their workforce as among their biggest challenges. That number is also on the rise from 72%, 74% and 76% in the previous three years.

Once again, more than half of employers (53%) expect to increase the size of their workforce in the next one to two years. But their challenges are even larger with 54% saying the supply of qualified applicants does not meet demand and 85% placing the filling of talent needs as among their critical challenges.

“In many cases, it’s not a lack of a four-year degree or higher educational achievement. Two-thirds require less than a bachelor’s degree for their unfilled jobs,” Brinegar explains. “This puts additional emphasis on the certificates, credentials and associate degrees in which Indiana, unfortunately, trails the majority of states.”

But it’s not always a lack of education or training that leads to the unfilled positions. In the view of employers, 45% of applicants are unwilling to accept the pay/compensation offered and 28% are not attracted to the community where the job is located.

In the training world, there appear to be some missed opportunities for employers and their workers. Only 40% of the respondents indicate that they partner with an educational institution to help meet their training needs.

For the employees, nearly half (48%) have access to tuition reimbursement programs but very few take advantage of those opportunities. From the employer perspective, 60% said employees have no desire or motivation to participate and 35% believe workers see no personal benefit in advancing their education.

“Part of the problem is employees not having the funds to cover the tuition payments upfront that will be reimbursed at some point by their employer. And that’s a common arrangement for these programs,” Brinegar offers.

“But we also know if employers pay for the tuition directly to the school – which is obviously easier for larger companies – more workers are likely to take part. We heard from one of our members who saw participation jump from about 50 employees to more than 400 when that change was made. So that is something the Indiana Chamber will be looking at this summer in our business-higher education committee to see what public policy recommendations may make sense.”

When it comes to prescription opiate misuse, less than half (47%) of the respondents said they drug tested employees for it in safety-sensitive positions. On a broader scale, 56% of employers said they tested any employee if they suspected misuse or abuse of prescription opiates. However, more than a third (34%) of employers indicated they did not know how to detect such misuse or abuse.

The survey results are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

The annual employer survey complements the work the Indiana Chamber is doing with the Outstanding Talent driver in the Indiana Vision 2025 long-term economic development plan for the state.

Indiana Vision 2025 measures Indiana’s progress compared to other states on 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture. The latest Report Card showing how Indiana ranks was released earlier this month and is available at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

Chronic Diseases Top of Mind for New Wellness Council Executive Director

Chronic disease management is a costly challenge in Indiana. Due to high rates of tobacco usage and obesity and the resulting health issues (diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease, etc.), Indiana finds itself again near the bottom of recent national health and fitness rankings.

As the new executive director of the Wellness Council of Indiana (WCI), Jennifer Pferrer is ready to help tackle those challenges and spread the message of comprehensive wellness programming to Hoosier employers.

“Some of the goals in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan target reducing smoking rates and obesity levels in Indiana, and the role of the WCI is to bring that conversation to a broader space and make an impact in health care costs and the health of Hoosiers,” she explains.

“I’m passionate about health care and I am looking forward to adding my mark on the Wellness Council of Indiana, as it really fits my background.”

Pferrer joined the WCI – a program of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce – in April and previously worked for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for 10 years, serving in roles that included executive director for Indiana and Kentucky, and regional vice president of a six-state region. Prior to the ADA, she studied consumer-physician relationships as marketing manager at St. Vincent Hospital.

Pferrer’s goal is to continue proving the value of the WCI as an investment for Hoosier employers.

“Wellness is so much broader than Fitbit programs. This is not just food and fitness. There is a data-driven business case for wellness. Wellness needs to be seen as an investment and it goes back to managing chronic diseases,” Pferrer notes. “For example, health education for employees with pre-diabetes can reduce the annual health care spend by the employer by thousands of dollars.”

Through the WCI’s AchieveWell company-based wellness program certification and the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative – which encourages a community-based approach to wellness to increase economic development potential – Pferrer says the infrastructure is in place for wellness success.

“I want employers to know – if wellness is on their radar, they don’t have to recreate the wheel. We can convene and share best practices and be that resource for them,” she concludes.

For more information on the WCI or to connect with Pferrer, visit www.wellnessindiana.org or call (317) 264-2168.

Hits and Misses: The Indiana Legislature Halftime Report

We are pleased that several of our top priorities are alive and in good shape at the midpoint – including long-term transportation funding, pre-K expansion and anti-smoking legislation. All of these tie directly to the Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan.

Long-term transportation funding – tolling around the corner?
This is the Chamber’s top priority in 2017. House Bill 1002 is the proposal to take care of the state’s transportation needs; the 20-year infrastructure plan addresses the erosion in funding that has taken place and the lost purchasing power from the enhancements in automotive technology and fuel efficiency.

We believe that the bill’s proposed gas tax increase is pretty solid. Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), who appears to be taking the lead on this bill in the Senate, may change things like dedicating all of the sales tax on gasoline to transportation needs and put a heavier emphasis on tolling, which would enable the state to undertake major projects like adding additional lane miles to Interstate 70 and Interstate 65 throughout Indiana. Overall, we are very encouraged by the commitment we have seen to date from the House, Senate and Governor. We also realize this will be a little tougher sell in the Senate and are prepared for a strong advocacy effort.

Tax threats avoided; overall outlook good
Everyone should be thrilled that two detrimental proposals – on mandatory combined reporting and sales tax on services – didn’t really get out of the gate. And that’s thanks to the good work of the Chamber’s Bill Waltz over the course of the summer. That means there are no big, threatening tax bills looming for us to worry about.

Instead, this session has brought some positive activity that will improve things procedurally within the Department of Revenue. Additionally, while not involving the Legislature, the Chamber has provided substantial input to the Department of Local Government Finance on a rule with respect to the so-called big box commercial/industrial property assessments. (That input was made possible thanks to a subgroup of the Chamber’s Tax Committee that analyzed the big box assessment issue; we are always grateful to our members for lending their expertise!)

On track: expansion of the state’s pre-K pilot for children from low-income families
Obviously, the expansion – to $16 million total in the Senate (including funds for a new online pre-K pilot); at $20 million in the House proposal – is not as significant as we would like, but we recognize this is still a very young program and are encouraged that what’s being debated is the level of increased funds, not the merit. We also appreciate all of the programmatic language that allows for potential expansion into all 92 counties (SB 276) and increases the income thresholds for eligible families (HB 1004). That said, we are going to continue to work to get as many dollars as possible directed to this. It’s vital for children to have that strong early education as a foundation.

Making the superintendent of public instruction an appointed position still can happen
We remain optimistic this longstanding Chamber goal will be realized this session. Yes, House Bill 1005 will have to be amended because it’s too similar to the one the Senate voted down last week. What happened there was, by all accounts, a blunder created by a perfect storm of factors – including little caucus discussion before the vote. But the good news is that the House bill is alive AND Senate leader David Long (R-Fort Wayne) has assigned it to the Senate Rules Committee that he chairs, so he’s going to go to work on it and will ultimately determine how much of it needs to be changed. We speculate that requiring Indiana residency – which is not currently in HB 1005 – could be one modification. It definitely will have to be different than the failed bill to pass the Senate Rules Committee.

Comprehensive smoking reform, now in HB 1001 and HB 1578, would send big message
We are hopeful that the increased tax on cigarettes ($1 per pack) and funding for a more robust smoking cessation program will stay in the budget bill (HB 1001). Likewise, that the repeal of the special civil rights privileges for smokers will survive on its own in HB 1578; this marks the first time that policy has been passed by either house, so we are making progress. Seeing these three elements cross the finish line would be a clear indication that the state is taking seriously the ever-increasing costs to employers of Hoosiers smoking – more than $6 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity on the job.

The provision raising the cigarette buying age from 18 to 21 is most likely not happening this session after its removal in the House Ways and Means Committee. That group felt there wasn’t enough definitive information or testimony.

ISTEP, energy and technology updates
The Chamber is supporting legislation that will replace ISTEP with a shorter, more focused assessment. You can put all the debates and disagreements aside because this has to happen this session.

We are encouraged by the Senate’s passing of SB 309, an energy bill, which, among other things, addresses net metering for those investing in wind and solar energy; we believe the bill is consumer-friendly. Moreover, utilities have offered up some ideas and concessions that we think will help control electricity prices. The water infrastructure proposal (SB 416), while not funded, sets up the appropriate framework and keeps that needed policy moving along.

The budget bill (HB 1001) contains some pro-technology priorities, including the transferability and expansion of the venture capital tax credit. This would incentivize additional out-of-state investors without state tax liability to invest in promising early stage Indiana companies. Additionally, the open data measure (HB 1470) would allow public access, in an appropriate way, to the tremendous amount of data the state has collected. This is one of a couple of new initiatives coming from our Indiana Technology & Innovation Council policy committee. To see these efforts making progress right away, in their first session, is very encouraging.

A disappointment for the Indiana Chamber
There were several bills centered on litigation that couldn’t get out of committee. That’s because there are too many attorneys on both civil justice committees who are standing with trial lawyers, which essentially is blocking any sort of tort reform.

Smoking Reform Elements (Mostly) Move On

HB 1578, as recently amended, repeals employment protections for individuals who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, and passed the House Ways and Means Committee 19-4.

Committee Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) lowered the $1.50 cigarette tax increase in the bill to $1.00 and put it in the budget (HB 1001) along with funding for cessation. Additionally, the committee voted to remove the increase in smoking age from 18 to 21 from the bill and left in place only the repeal of the special treatment for smokers in the workplace. The Indiana Chamber and the Indiana Hospital Association testified in support of that provision.

The Chamber, along with other members of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, has been lobbying House members for votes. The Chamber also has been working to secure a Senate sponsor for the bill.

Ball State: New Clinical Trials Examine How Exercise Helps Us Down to Our Molecules

Todd Trappe (left) and Scott Trappe (right) work on a research project at Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory.

Ball State University will partner with two other major research institutions as part of a national project to uncover how exercise changes the body on a molecular level, which could lead to people engaging in more targeted and optimized activities.

Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) will form one clinical trial site with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Exercise Medicine and the Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes in Orlando, Florida. Their work is part of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans program (MoTrPac), which will be financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund.

The three partners will share a projected $6.6 million over six years, 2017-23, as part of a $170 million NIH investment for the largest, most complex and highly coordinated human exercise physiology training study in the field’s history.

“The NIH initiative is a moonshot opportunity for the exercise community, and the Human Performance Laboratory is honored to be part of the team,” said Scott Trappe, the John and Janice Fisher Endowed Chair of Exercise Science and director of the Human Performance Laboratory in Ball State’s newly formed College of Health. “This is a new frontier that will move the field forward to better understand the health benefits of exercise.”

Under the $170 million project, 19 grants will support researchers working around the country, including seven clinical trial sites and several analytical sites to collect samples from people of different races, ethnic groups, sex, ages and fitness levels.

“We have long understood that exercising is beneficial to our overall health; however, we still do not understand why,” NIH director Francis S. Collins said in a statement. “The development of a so-called molecular map of circulating signals produced by physical activity will allow us to discover, at a fundamental level, how physical activity affects our health.

Under the national research initiative, researchers will partner to develop plans to recruit people for clinical trials, identify how to analyze tissue samples and select animal models to best replicate human studies.

Investigators across the country will recruit a total of about 3,000 healthy men and women of different fitness levels, ages, races and ethnicities. Each clinical site will enroll and study 450 to 500 participants. Researchers will collect blood, urine and tissue samples from the volunteers, who will perform resistance or aerobic exercises as part of the national study.

During the first year, clinical site teams will finalize plans and responsibilities. Trappe said HPL will quickly ramp up operations, including adding more researchers and post-doctoral students, to begin work in 2017. He will be a co-director of the test site; Todd Trappe, a Ball State exercise science professor, will be a co-principal investigator for the site.

Toby Chambers, a first-year doctoral student in Ball State’s human bioenergetics program, believes the NIH project underscores the national reputations Ball State and HPL have developed.

“As a doctoral student in the Human Performance Laboratory, I am really excited about the learning opportunities that will result from the research team’s involvement,” he said. “The unique opportunities this presents to the research team are why individuals, like myself, continue to be attracted to the HPL at Ball State.”