Hoosiers Need More Zzzzzzzzs (Employers Can Help)

Sleepy worker

Ten years ago, sleep was not one of my top priorities.

I slept whenever I wanted (outside of my work hours). It was glorious.

Now that I’m a parent of two small children and come home to chores and tasks and homework and all the things you have to squeeze in to a 24-hour period (along with any sort of relaxation at the end of the day … Netflix on the couch, anyone?), sleep is the thing that gets squeezed out of my schedule.

I know skimping on sleep is not a healthy habit and that I need to make it more of a priority. But, like other busy people, I have a lot of priorities. What’s the motivation for more sleep?

It turns out I’m not the only Hoosier with this particular challenge. A recent article in the Indianapolis Star reports that more than 38% of Hoosiers say they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep per night (at least seven hours).

The article’s headline claims Indiana is the 8th most tired state. While we beat out Hawaiians (who came in last), the residents of South Dakota are seemingly very well rested.

Why should employers care if their employees aren’t prioritizing their rest?

Obviously, sleepy employees make for less productive employees. That’s not surprising.

What is surprising is how much the unrested employees might cost employers. The National Safety Council this week revealed a cost calculator to show the impact of sleepy employees.

Other concerns for employers include health care-related costs – from paying more over time for employees with sleep disorders who require medicine or machinery to get their required rest to the correlation to Indiana’s obesity rate, which can impact sleep quality. All of this can cost employers in terms of health care expenses and absenteeism issues.

So what is an employer to do? For one, the Wellness Council of Indiana offers employers a road map to implementing wellness programs in the workplace. Whether or not your wellness game plan directly targets the sleep of your employees, you can take steps to encourage your employers to eat, move and sleep better. Here are a number of resources you might find useful, including this article on sleep habits; one on workplace fatigue risk management; and this newsletter focusing on the dangers of insomnia and suggestions for how to deal with the condition.

You can also simply ask your employees if they feel well-rested and if there is any other way you can motivate them to get better rest. Perhaps an internal policy change regarding work hours or flexible scheduling could make a bigger impact than you realize. Even encouraging employees to make sure they take advantage of their vacation time could help ensure rested, rejuvenated employees who are ready to work.

What other ideas do you have for encouraging employees to get more rest (at home)?

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.

It’s Time to Redefine Wellness


The Wellness Council of Indiana’s Chuck Gillespie recently had a column featured in the new U.S. Chamber Foundation report, “Healthy Returns: The Value of Investing in Community Health.”

A simple Internet search can show why the wellness industry is at a crossroads. In today’s market, the definition of “wellness” is based more on which classification best fits a person’s specific need, want, or ability, or a vendor’s specific product or service. Wellness is sometimes tied to chronic disease management, fitness, nutrition, weight loss, clinical health services, tobacco use, and behavioral therapy just to name a few. However, workplaces and communities that use an economics-based approach to wellness have proven to be the most successful at creating a culture of health and well-being. Read more in the report on page 16.


Don’t Overlook Financial Freedom; Help Available

?????????????????Despite Indiana’s less-than-exemplary health status (too much obesity and smoking), financial wellness is a factor that cannot be overlooked. Primerica is one of many organizations trying to make a difference through employee education.

Chase Eaton has been a regional vice president for the organization in the Indianapolis area for the past nine years. (During that time, he has also been a member of the Indiana Pacers’ Power Pack — that high-flying dunk team that entertains fans during each home game.)

Eaton says there are two parts to the Primerica plan for businesses:

  1. Group presentations that teach employees basic money concepts such as the Rule of 72, debt stacking (how to pay down debts faster), efficient budgeting, saving for retirement and more.
  2. Individual sessions in which associates can develop, with a coach, a personalized financial game plan. Outcomes include a debt freedom date, financial independence number (amount of savings needed to retire), itemized budget worksheet and comprehensive insurance review.

Contact Eaton to learn more.

The Wellness Council of Indiana focuses on the financial side of wellness as part of its work with organizations throughout the state. Membership is an excellent first step to establishing an overall culture of wellness.

Wellness Council Program a Real STAR

Five-Star-150x150Do you need any additional evidence that workplace wellness and its importance are here to stay? Digest this fact: In 2014, the number of companies completing a level of the Wellness Council of Indiana’s AchieveWELL program exceeded the total of the previous five years combined.

AchieveWELL was recognized as a winner (for innovative membership program) recently in the Indiana Society of Association Executives’ STAR awards program. The Wellness Council has been a part of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce since 2011.

The program provides a blueprint and a strategy for implementing a successful wellness initiative in the workplace. It was developed to assist employers in creating a corporate culture that encourages and supports employee health through worksite wellness.

AcheiveWELL’s process is proven to reduce the costly and time-consuming mistakes many internal wellness committees make when attempting to deliver wellness at work. It promotes productivity, presenteeism and engagement at work.

There are three different levels in the AchieveWELL program (three star, four star level and five star l). Each level has goals and programs for organizations to promote wellness. Companies are provided with tools, templates and personal coaching to help them comply with the established criteria for delivering a comprehensive and consistent workplace wellness initiative. Once one level is completed, a company may advance to the next level.

Check it out online and connect with the Wellness Council of Indiana to learn how your organization can benefit.

Small Business Tools to Help You on the Path to Wellness

The following is a notice from the Indiana Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network at the I.U. School of Medicine:

Not all wellness programs are created equal. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Many companies and their employees possess varied circumstances that make them unique. While there are differences, there are also lessons and best practices to be learned from others as well as resources available to help.
Jennifer Taylor, one of the creators of the Indiana Healthy Worksites Toolkit for Small Businesses, is conducting a study to uncover the best and most practical ways to share wellness information with small businesses.
The study is simple. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to complete two online surveys (one in March and one in June). Each will take about 20 minutes. Your information and survey answers will remain confidential.
At the end of the June study, you will be entered for a chance to receive a free registration to the 2012 Indiana Employee Health and Wellness Summit or a free membership (for one year) to the Wellness Council of Indiana.
To participate in this study, your organization must meet the following criteria:

  • Consist of between two and 100 full-time employees
  • Be located in Indiana
  • Have a membership with either the Indiana Chamber of Commerce or Wellness Council of Indiana

Those interested in participating in this valuable study should contact Taylor at (317) 363-1943 or via e-mail (jdtaylor@atsu.edu) by Friday, March 2.

Wellness Proves to be Hot Topic

Chuck Gillespie, Wellness Council of Indiana program director, was "on fire" during a recent Policy Call discussion with Chamber members. I say on fire because Chuck offered excellent, easy-to-remember wellness advice for all.

It started with the fact that wellness, according to Chuck, has "gone from a nice thing to do to a stratgic business strategy." Well said, and important to remember. A few additional highlights:

  • Three key questions everyone asks: Where do I begin ?; what are others doing ?; how do I measure what we’re doing? The Wellness Council and other resources have the answers to help
  • "Keep it simple." Good advice to remember no matter the situation
  • Replace the word "health" with "healthier" (as in trying to become healthier than you were yesterday); in addition, sub "active" or "movement" for the word "exercise" and its negative connotation
  • Not enough emphasis is placed on the fact that wellness and safety should be tied together
  • Four key words for success: consistency, leadership, planning and promotion

Learn more about the Wellness Council. And if you’re looking to enhance your wellness efforts, purchase the Indiana Employer’s Guide to Workplace Wellness.

The next Policy Call for Chamber members on Nov. 11 will feature Indiana congressman Marlin Stutzman. Details coming soon online or call (317) 264-3793 to register.

I Can Walk Away From This Promo Message

I receive press releases — lots and lots of press releases. Here’s one that gained attention, not for its message but its absurdity.

Title: Which is Worse for Your Health? Cigarettes or Office Chairs?
NBC News reports that new research shows the ill effects of prolonged sitting is commensurate with similar health afflictions found among cigarette smokers.
Dr. David Coven, a cardiologist at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital in New York, states in the report that several new studies show prolonged sitting is linked directly to many of the same diseases contracted by smokers including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and premature mortality. The report warned that the odds of contracting any of these diseases increased with the amount of time spent sitting during the day.
“We have been sounding the alarm bells about the dangers of sedentary lifestyles for the past two years and appreciate that NBC’s coverage will add to our attempts to build a movement revolution in the United States,” stated TrekDesk CEO Steve Bordley. “America’s health is at risk as never before yet few understand the severe health impact of sitting at a desk all day.”

I’m all for wellness (we’ve got the Wellness Council of Indiana under the Chamber umbrella now, we’re putting the final touches on the wellness issue of BizVoice and the Chamber is preparing for the annual Indiana Employee Health and Wellness Summit). But really: Comparing the impacts of working at a desk to smoking to sell "walking treadmills?" The product might be worthwhile, but the message to get us to pay attention leaves much to be desired.

Well, Weller and Wellness

I’m glad blog headlines are not subject to strict English guidelines. But on to the business of the day.

If you’re in the wellness world (promoting it within your company, offering products or services to others, or simply interested for personal reasons), read on. If you’re not, maybe you should be so read on anyway.

There is a wellness trifecta going on at the Indiana Chamber — and we want you to be able to take advantage of the opportunities.

  • As announced earlier, the Wellness Council of Indiana became part of the Chamber at the beginning of this year. Chuck Gillespie (cgillespie@indianachamber.com) is the executive director and he’s working with many of the longtime volunteer board members to expand wellness programming, benefits and certifications throughout the state. Chuck can fill you in on the details.
  • The Chamber’s BizVoice magazine has been publishing wellness columns and roundtable discussions for more than five years. The upcoming July-August issue will be largely dedicated to wellness stories, programs and initiatives from throughout the state. You won’t want to miss it; and if you’re one of those in the wellness business, it’s a great way to advertise your wares. Jim Wagner (jwagner@indianachamber.com) will help you take care of that.
  • Finally, the Chamber is partnering once again to produce the 2011 Employee Health and Wellness Summit. It’s September 27 at the new JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Agenda details are still to come; sponsorhip opportunities are another great way to get the word out. Jim Wagner will help you in that area also.

As Gillespie often writes, says, who knows maybe sings at times: "It’s good to be well!"

A Big Day for Wellness in Indiana; Chamber Now Home for Wellness Council

During the last six years or so, I’ve learned a few things about wellness. For example:

  • A number of companies that entered the wellness arena early this decade did it with the assumption of rapid financial returns. In other words, they expected immediate savings on health insurance premiums and were often disappointed when that did not take place.
  • In one of the first BizVoice roundtable discussions on this topic, we heard from one of the early adopters that some initial preventative screenings detected a heart ailment in one of their employees. He was immediately sent to his doctor and successfully treated. Yes, money was saved in the long term, but most importantly a life was preserved. There have been various versions of similar stories since.

The true value of wellness in the workplace lies somewhere between those two extremes. Establishing a successful wellness culture may not immediately save lives, but in the long term it will result in healthier and more productive employees — and likely produce that elusive benefit to the bottom line.

With all that in mind, the Indiana Chamber looks to bring wellness to more workplaces in 2011 by forming a partnership with the Wellness Council of Indiana. WCI has been around for 20-plus years with highly respected volunteers and wellness resources providing certifications and other programs for businesses. The new alliance will allow the Chamber to expand these programs and make them available to more employers and their employees statewide.

Read more in today’s press release and in the coming weeks and months as further details develop.