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.

Health Means Business for Indiana’s Economy

tom hironsThe improvement in Indiana’s economic environment is an outstanding success story. The series of top 10 business climate rankings from respected national sources is a tribute to the work of many throughout our state.

The same broad-based, dedicated effort is required in one very important area in which the state is not faring well in national comparisons. And if we don’t finally make some significant advances, those sought-after employers and their talented employees might not find Indiana to be such a great place to work and live.

The inferior health of our workforce – and overall population – is no secret. In the 2015 Report Card measuring progress on the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, two rankings stood out in a negative manner: 39th in adult smoking rate (despite a four percentage point improvement from the prior measurement) and 42nd in adult obesity.

In the most recent America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation, Indiana’s behaviors (physical activity in addition to smoking and obesity) and outcomes (diabetes, cardiovascular deaths and cancer deaths) fare no better.

Health Means Business. That is a statement and the title of an upcoming event intended to promote business-led community health initiatives. As the Wellness Council of Indiana has been advocating, a healthier Indiana is vital in recruiting and retaining employees, reducing health care costs, limiting absenteeism and increasing productivity.

Details are coming soon on a new Indiana Healthy Community Initiative – modeled after the Wellness Council’s AchieveWELL process for employers – that will allow towns/cities/counties to lead collaborative efforts to improve the health of their citizens.

Indiana is one of 10 stops on a national Health Means Business tour. The Indiana Chamber Foundation is partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the February 5 event. We see this as just one of many steps to putting Indiana on a healthier road and keeping our state among the nation’s business leaders.

Tom Hirons, president and CEO of Hirons, is the 2016 Indiana Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board.

Wellness Council of Indiana Recognizes 35 AchieveWELL Companies

Wellness-Indiana-LogoThe Wellness Council of Indiana recently announced that 35 Hoosier organizations across the state have qualified for new AchieveWELL certification.

Groups working toward creating a corporate culture that encourages and supports employee health through worksite wellness programs are eligible for the designation. AchieveWELL provides an independent assessment of wellness processes and is divided into three levels: Three Star, Four Star and Five Star. The standards are progressive through the Five-Star Award.

New Three-Star recipients:
• Bona Vista Programs, Inc. – Kokomo
• CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions – Indianapolis
• Gregory & Appel Insurance – Indianapolis
• Hamilton County – Noblesville
• The Indiana Rail Road Company – Indianapolis
• Indiana University – Bloomington
• Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation
• Katz, Sapper & Miller CPAs – Indianapolis
• Lenex Steel Corporation – Indianapolis
• LHD Benefit Advisors – Indianapolis
• Monarch Beverage – Indianapolis
• Muncie Delaware Co. Chamber of Commerce and Horizon Convention Center
• Muncie Indiana Transit System
• MutualBank – Muncie
• Open Door Health Services – Muncie
• Riverview Health – Noblesville
• Shindigz – South Whitley
• Simon Property Group – Indianapolis
• State of Indiana – Indianapolis
• Taghleef Industries, Inc. – Terre Haute
• Walgreens Pharmacies – Carmel

New Four-Star recipients:
• Apex Benefits Group, Inc. – Indianapolis
• City of South Bend – South Bend
• Covance Central Laboratory Services, Inc. – Indianapolis
• Hancock Regional Hospital – Greenfield
• IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital – Muncie
• Margaret Mary Health – Batesville
• Mulzer Crushed Stone, Inc. – Tell City
• The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – Indianapolis
• Walker Information, Inc. – Indianapolis

New Five-Star recipients:
• Ball State University – Muncie
• Citizens Energy Group – Indianapolis
• Ontario Systems – Muncie
• Vectren Corporation – Evansville
• Youth Opportunity Center – Muncie

Without dictating how worksite wellness programs are conducted, the AchieveWELL process offers a clear understanding of the necessary components of successful worksite wellness and recognizes excellence in the field of health promotion. Helpful tools, templates and personal coaching are offered to those aspiring to become AchieveWELL organizations.

The AchieveWELL program is free to members of the Wellness Council of Indiana. For information on joining the Wellness Council, visit www.wellnessindiana.org or call (317) 264-2168.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

2014 Best Places to Work in Indiana Named; Rankings Coming May 1

A record-tying 100 companies, including 27 new honorees from last year, have been selected as a 2014 Best Place to Work in Indiana, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce announced today. Actual rankings for the companies will be unveiled at a May 1 awards dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.

These top companies in the state were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 21 other states.

Winners were selected from four categories: small companies of between 15 and 74 U.S. employees; medium companies of between 75 and 249 U.S. employees; large companies of between 250 and 999 U.S. employees; and major companies with 1,000 or more U.S. employees. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

This year saw the most number of applicants ever for the program, says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“We have a lot of great employers in Indiana that are providing a productive, employee-friendly work environment that also leads to success for the organization. We are happy to recognize those companies which took part in the program and encourage even more companies to join the process for 2015.”

For organizations on this year’s list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s nine-year history, there is additional recognition.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 23 organizations on the 2014 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all nine years of the program. The Pinnacle recognition is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The two Pinnacle companies are Microsoft (first in the major employer category in 2013 and in the large category in 2011-2012) and Edward Jones (tops in the large employer category from 2006-2008).

In addition to the May 1 awards dinner, winners will be recognized via a special section of the Indiana Chamber’s bimonthly BizVoice® magazine and through Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick – both of which reach statewide audiences. Additional program partners are the Best Companies Group, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana. The 2014 Best Places to Work in Indiana awards dinner is open to the public. Individual tickets and tables are available at www.indianachamber.com/specialevents.

All companies that participated in the 2014 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Indiana Chamber’s Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

In addition to Hylant, Best Places to Work in Indiana is sponsored by: Moser Consulting, Inc.; Hays Companies of Indiana; ADVISA; Elfcu, Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union; Jackson Lewis; Matrix Integration, LLC; Ogletree Deakins; and Smithville Communications, Inc.

Additional sponsorships are still available. Email jwagner@indianachamber.com for more details.

The 2014 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies listed in alphabetical order, no ranking:

*Hall of Fame companies

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
Bassemiers Fireplace Patio and Spas / Evansville
Bierman ABA Autism Center / Carmel
BlueSky Technology Partners / Noblesville
Borshoff / Indianapolis
Catalyst Product Development, Inc. / Indianapolis
Conner Insurance / Indianapolis
Courseload, Inc. / Indianapolis
Cripe Architects + Engineers / Indianapolis
Cushman & Wakefield/SUMMIT / Indianapolis
Delivra, Inc. / Indianapolis
Design Collaborative, Inc. / Fort Wayne
Diverse Staffing / Indianapolis
Diverse Tech Services, Inc. / Indianapolis
E-gineering, LLC / Indianapolis
FirstPerson / Indianapolis
Formstack / Indianapolis
Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C. / Carmel
Iasta.com, Inc. / Carmel
IDSolutions / Noblesville
Indesign, LLC / Indianapolis
Indiana CPA Society / Indianapolis
Indianapolis Indians / Indianapolis
Indigo BioSystems, Inc. / Indianapolis
Inovateus Solar LLC / South Bend
JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
Mainstreet / Lebanon
National Trade Supply, LLC / Greenwood
netlogx / Indianapolis
Network Solutions, Inc. / Granger
Oak Street Funding / Carmel
One Click Ventures / Greenwood
PolicyStat / Carmel
Private Fleet Backhaul / Anderson
sgSolutions, Inc. / Indianapolis
Swagelok Indiana / Indianapolis
TinderBox / Indianapolis
Wessler Engineering / Indianapolis
Wilson Kehoe Winingham / Indianapolis

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Allegient, LLC / Indianapolis
Apparatus / Indianapolis
Community Bank Shares of Indiana, Inc. / New Albany
Elfcu, Eli Lilly Federal Credit Union / Indianapolis
Financial Center / Indianapolis
Gibson / South Bend
HardingPoorman, Inc.* / Indianapolis
MJ Insurance, Inc.* / Indianapolis
MOBI Wireless Management / Indianapolis
Moser Consulting Inc. / Indianapolis
OurHealth / Indianapolis
Peoples Bank SB / Munster
Project Lead The Way / Indianapolis
Purdue Federal Credit Union / West Lafayette
Schmidt Associates* / Indianapolis
Software Engineering Professionals, Inc. / Carmel
Somerset CPAs* / Indianapolis
United Consulting* / Indianapolis
United Leasing Inc. / Evansville
United Way of Central Indiana / Indianapolis
Visiting Nurse and Hospice of the Wabash Valley / Terre Haute

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Appirio / Indianapolis
Ash Brokerage Corporation* / Fort Wayne
Blue & Co., LLC* / Carmel
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company* / Fort Wayne
Centier Bank* / Merrillville
Draper Inc. / Spiceland
Duke Realty / Indianapolis
FORUM Credit Union / Indianapolis
Fusion Alliance* / Indianapolis
Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, PC* / Indianapolis
Hancock Regional Hospital* / Greenfield
Hosparus Inc. / New Albany
Hylant / Indianapolis
Katz, Sapper & Miller* / Indianapolis
Kendall Electric, Inc. / Multiple
Magna Powertrain / Muncie
Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis
Shiel Sexton Company, Inc.* / Indianapolis
Sikich LLP / Indianapolis
Traylor Bros., Inc. / Evansville

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Aerotek / Indianapolis
Cassidy Turley* / Indianapolis
Columbus Regional Health* / Columbus
Eaton Corporation / South Bend
Edward Jones* / Statewide
Emmis Communications Corporation* / Indianapolis
ExactTarget* / Indianapolis
Hendricks Regional Health / Danville
Hilliard Lyons / Multiple
Horseshoe Casino Hammond / Hammond
Interactive Intelligence* / Indianapolis
Microsoft Corporation / Indianapolis
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. / Indianapolis
RCI* / Carmel
Total Quality Logistics / Indianapolis
Union Hospital, Inc.* / Terre Haute
WestPoint Financial Group* / Indianapolis
WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone / Evansville

VIDEO: Workplace Wellness Remains a Focus in Indiana

Chuck Gillespie of the Wellness Council of Indiana discusses the journey of wellness that many Indiana employers are embarking on, as well as the upcoming 2013 Employee Health and Wellness Summit in September.

See the current BizVoice for more on healthy nutrition and vending, as well as stress reduction in the workplace.

Draper Inc. Employee Gets Trip of a Lifetime for Wellness Efforts

Over the past few years, employers have begun taking a larger role in the health and well-being of their employees. Many are finding it benefits not only morale, but the bottom line as well when workers are happy and healthy — and more productive. While many are experimenting with rewards programs and weight loss initiatives, Draper Inc. in Spiceland has raised the bar by giving one employee a trip to Hawaii for her efforts.

Draper's blog tells the story of Nancy Vickery, one of the company's nearly 160 employees who met the walking requirements — and her number was drawn to head to America's 50th — and some would argue most beautiful — state. Following the contest, 115 Draper employees were surveyed and reported the following results from their contest:

  • A combined weight loss of 526 pounds
  • Eight of them are no longer taking medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes
  • One of them no longer uses a sleep machine

Both the Indiana Chamber and the Wellness Council of Indiana offer kudos to Draper Inc. for this initiative. If you think your business could benefit from joining the Wellness Council, just reach out to its executive director, Chuck Gillespie, at chuck@wellnessindiana.org  .

Study: Nearly 31% of Hoosiers are Obese

Ball State University recently issued a press release stating a staggering 31% of Hoosiers are obese. Horrifying as that is, there are many initiatives going on statewide, including the Wellness Council of Indiana, that offer resources to help employers deal with this problem. Ball State reports:

Nearly 31 percent of Indiana’s adult population reports being obese, ranking the state eighth worst nationally in terms of percentage of population severely overweight, says a new study by Ball State University.

The Burden of Adult Obesity in Indiana, a study by the Ball State’s Global Health Institute (GHI), found obesity rates rose by 0.7 percent to 30.8 percent in the last year. The national rate has dropped slightly from 27.5 percent in 2011. Data for the study was provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
 
People are classified as obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of the person’s height in meters, exceeds 30.
 
"The percentage of adults who are obese has steadily increased over the past 20 years for both Americans and Hoosiers," said Kerry Anne McGeary, GHI director, and Phyllis A. Miller, professor of health economics. "Obesity poses a major risk for serious non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and cancer."
 
She also pointed out that an obese person in the United States spends about $1,400, or roughly 42 percent, more each year on health care than a healthy-weight person. Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths, resulting in 2.8 million deaths per year.
 
Ball State’s research also found that In Indiana:

  • 30.9 percent of males report being obese compared to 30.8 percent of females.
  • Among adults under 65, the percentage who report being obese increases with age, while obesity levels decrease for those with higher levels of education.
  • 13.3 percent of adults who report obesity also have cardiovascular disease as compared to 7.2 percent of adults who reported a healthy weight.
  • 42.2 percent of African-American adults are obese, compared to 34.7 percent of Hispanic adults and 29.5 percent of white adults.
  • 18.7 percent of adults who report obesity also report having diabetes compared to 4 percent of healthy weight adults.

McGeary also points out that while obesity is preventable, medical costs associated with the condition are skyrocketing. In 2008, the annual direct medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was estimated to be as high as $147 billion, rising to nearly 10 percent of all medical spending.
 
"By 2030, the majority of states could have obesity levels above 50 percent and Indiana could hit that 50 percent level well before then," McGeary said. "If the average BMI of the population could reduce by just 5 percentage points by 2030, millions of people could avoid obesity-related diseases and billions of dollars would be saved."
 

Wellness, Smoking Cessation Gain Momentum

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar offers insights on the Wellness Council of Indiana, which has grown 400% since it became part of the Indiana Chamber in 2011. The council is now leading a smoking cessation program aimed at helping employers institute smoke-free policies and individuals break the costly and deadly habit.

Dollars & Sense Behind Wellness Programs

I’m fortunate to sit on our Wellness Committee here at the Chamber. We develop ways to encourage staff to eat better, exercise more, and take advantage of the state’s wonderful parks. Additionally, the Chamber now houses the Wellness Council of Indiana, which is doing great things under the leadership of Chuck Gillespie. But some businesses out there may be hesitant to invest time and resources into staff wellness. This article from Media Health Leaders may help you see the benefits:

If employers entice and incentivize employees to take better care of themselves, by losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, etc., then the healthier life style will result in lower medical costs, which will be reflected in lower health insurance premiums, and other costs associated with employer-based health plans.

It’s a remarkably simple theory. Until recently, however, it’s been just that: theory. It’s been difficult to consistently demonstrate savings generated by wellness programs. As the wellness movement matures, however, more studies prove they are a worthy return on investment.

Highmark Inc., the Pittsburgh-based health insurers, have published the findings of a four-year study which found that healthcare costs rose at a 15% slower rate among wellness participants who were offered a consistent and comprehensive wellness program over several years, when compared with employees in a control group who did not participate in wellness programs.

The study of select Highmark employer group wellness programs showed that the savings per participant was $332 a year, when compared with the control group of nonparticipants. Actually, the savings could be considerably higher, says Jennifer Grana, a director at Highmark, because the study does not factor in the cost of lost productivity and absenteeism due to health issues.