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W e l l n e s s

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WELCOA's

National Standards
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Wellness

Building Results Through Comprehensive Programs

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About Laura Linnan, ScD


Laura Linnan ScD is Associate Professor and MPH Program Director at the University of North Carolina. Her work at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health includes primary research in the areas of prevention and control of chronic diseases, especially cancer, with a concentration on applied research efforts in worksites and other community-based settings. She is also the Director of the Carolina Collaborative for Research on Work and Health (CCRWH). Dr. Linnan earned her doctorate from Harvard Universitys School of Public Health and served for six years as a research associate faculty member at Brown University. She has a joint appointment at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and is a Research Fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, where she also serves as Senior Advisor to the Evaluation Core. She has authored more than 70 scientific articles and was a key contributor to the 2008 publication, Results of the 2004 National Worksite Health Promotion Survey in the American Journal of Public Health.

WELCOA's

An Expert Interview With

Laura Linnan
About David Hunnicutt
Since his arrival at WELCOA in 1995, David Hunnicutt has interviewed hundreds of the most influential business and health leaders in America. Known for his ability to make complex issues easier to understand, David has a proven track record of asking the right questions and getting straight answers. As a result of his efforts, Davids expert interviews have been widely-published and read by workplace wellness practitioners across the country. David Hunnicutt can be reached at dhunnicutt@welcoa.org.

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n this exclusive WELCOA interview, Dr. Laura Linnan, a nationallyrecognized public health expert shares with us the status of workplace wellness programs and the impact that they are having on employees and American businesses. WELCOA Offers Wellness Certifications
WELCOA offers a dynamic webinar and certification serieswith exciting topics help you build and sustain results-oriented wellness programs. Each session is conducted by a workplace wellness expert, and the webinar format allows you to gain cutting-edge knowledgewithout leaving your office!

In 2004, Dr. Linnan and her colleagues conducted a national worksite health promotion survey by examining a cross-section of worksite wellness programs. Results showed that only 7% of worksites offered comprehensive or results-oriented wellness programsindicating an important need to increase the number, quality and types of programs offered across the nation. The following insightful interview highlights the resources you can use to implement and evaluate your comprehensive worksite wellness programs to keep them aimed at improving employee health and cost reduction.

David Hunnicutt: Please tell us a little about your work with the 2004 National Worksite Survey and what it evaluated? Laura Linnan: Well, first, I would just like to say that it was an honor and a privilege to be part of the National Worksite Survey in 2004. The team included individuals from the Partnership for Prevention, the CDC, and leaders in disease prevention, health promotion and national health statistics. The 2004 survey was about a five-year process, and part of that process involved reviewing similar surveys and research that dated back almost 20 years. We wanted to monitor how things are going on a national level. So, this survey established benchmarks that linked to the Healthy People 2010 and now Healthy People 2020 National Objectives. The survey allowed us to monitor how were doing with worksite health promotion in relation to those objectives. It enabled us to not only compare results over previous surveys, but it also allowed us to look at some new, important areas.

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The survey allowed us to determine the impact and outcomes of wellness programs, from the perspective of the employer.
I think surveys like this at the national level are extremely important. They provide monitoring functions that help us see progress on specific benchmarks over time. The survey allowed us to determine the impact and outcomes of wellness programs, from the perspective of the employer.

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DH: In your 2004 study, you revealed some compelling data regarding activity-centered versus results-oriented programs. Can you add some commentary on that discovery?

Partnership for Prevention Offers A Free Health Promotion Sourcebook


Healthy Workforce 2010 and Beyond is a health promotion sourcebook for large and small employers. This guide to resources can help you implement and evaluate comprehensive worksite wellness programs that are aimed at improving employee health and business growth.

LL: The 2004 survey was the first time that we actually asked about comprehensive programming as opposed to just activity-specific programming. When it came to comprehensive programs, we established an ambitious goal of 75 percentwe wanted to see 75 percent of the workforce offer comprehensive programming. Unfortunately, the survey revealed that only seven percent of employers are actually offering a comprehensive program.

Find The Guide Under Worksite Health At:


http://www.prevent.org/Publicationsand-Resources.aspx

I think we need to get beyond the singleactivity approach and think more about comprehensive programming. This is the kind of programming that will have a positive, long-term impact on employee health.
To be honest, I wasnt that surprised at the number. I think theres a lot of interest in health promotion, which is obviously a good thing. Employers are getting the message that its important to think about employee health. However, I think the survey really showed us that we need to go beyond what I would consider spray and pray approaches. What I mean by that is that there are several programs with goodwill and good intentions, but these programs tend to be narrow in scope and cant conclusively answer the critical questions: Can we improve employee health? Can we influence the financial health of an organization? Can we help reduce health care costs? So, I think we need to get beyond the single-activity approach and think more about comprehensive programming. This is the kind of programming that will have a positive, long-term impact on employee health.

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DH: In your 2004 study, what were some of the other surprising and, in your opinion, compelling findings? LL: A number of things jumped out. For one, we confirmed something we suspected, which was that employers tend to look to their insurers for help with their programming. About half of the employers who responded said they relied on their insurers for help with their programming. That was an important finding. Going forward, I think its critical to develop strategic partnerships with health insurers in such a way that were all focused on comprehensive programs. Secondly, we wanted to look at how the work environment can be mobilized to support health. We learned that the physical environment plays a large role in supporting employee health. For example, offering onsite fitness facilities is a great way to promote and support health. About half of our employers with more than 750 employees had a fitness center onsite, which is an enormous percentage when you think about it. If we can get people using those facilities at these worksites, that would be tremendous. On the flip side, we discovered that most of the smaller worksites dont have these kinds of facilities. Of course, that doesnt mean small employers cant create a supportive, healthy work environment. There are opportunities for creating a more health-supportive environment in all worksites. Simple options include creating a measured walking distance around the worksite or in the surrounding community. You can also focus on the foods that are offered in your cafeteria and/or vending machines. Are healthy food choices labeled? Are special promotions offered? Are there healthy catering options you can leverage? We know that when healthy food options are available it can make a tremendous difference. So, its critical to leverage partnerships and mobilize the physical environment to support good health.

The Well Workplace Model Offers Results


The ultimate goal of WELCOA membership is to help you successfully design and implement results-oriented wellness programs. Using the proven WELCOA Well Workplace Model and patented 7 Benchmarks approach, your organization will get an inside track to becoming one of Americas Healthiest Companies.

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We learned that the physical environment plays a large role in supporting employee health. For example, offering onsite fitness facilities is a great way to promote and support health. Reading a copy?
The survey also confirmed something else we suspected, which was that smaller worksites continue to have less programs, policies and environmental support for health. We cannot ignore that data any longer. We found that employers with 750 employees or more are very, very different than those who have 750 employees or less. Sadly, I think we learned that small employers have a lot less happening in terms of health promotion. Theres lots of room for improvement there. So, as these small businesses try to create effective, comprehensive health promotion programs, they need to consider new approaches, new models and new ways to

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WELCOA Members Get Free Incentive Campaigns


Innovative incentive campaigns from WELCOA offer you fresh ways to engage employees in your wellness programs. Campaigns focus on a range of topicsincluding physical activity, nutrition, stressmanagement and moreand come complete everything you need to be successful!

create healthier work environments. I do want to mention that small employers have some great opportunities and advantages. For example, policy change in a large organization often takes years to implement. Yet, policy change in a smaller work environment can happen rather quickly, as there are usually only a few layers and decision makers involved in the process. So, by sharing some evidence-based policies that have been proven to help support healthy workplaces, we can help smaller businesses create an almost immediate impact on that work environment. DH: If you could offer up any salient advice or recommendations for business leaders and workplace wellness practitioners, based on the findings of your national survey and other related professional experiences, what would you tell them? LL: Number one is: dont settle for the spray and pray approach. Develop some key partnerships so you can be more strategic in your wellness programs. Additionally, focus on more than just programming. Think about the physical and social environment of the workplace. Think about policies that are already in place or could be in place to help support the health of your workers. Think beyond just wellnessthink about integrated approaches. For example, try partnering with your employee assistance program. After all, a great portion of the illnesses and health care costs we face today are linked to stress and mental health. So, if you can build a strong partnership between your health programs and your organizations employee assistance program, I think that will go a long way. Were just at the tip of the iceberg on that. I think we can do a lot more.

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If you can build a strong partnership between your health programs and your organizations employee assistance program, I think that will go a long way.
I think practitioners also need to focus on really engaging their employees. In our 2004 survey, employers cited lack of employee interest as the key barrier for offering wellness programs. However, in all of the surveys Ive doneand Ive done hundredsemployees always indicate that they are interested in these programs. So, theres definitely a disconnect there. It tells me that we need to do a better job of engaging employees. We need to ensure that the programs, services, policies and environmental changes we offer are truly responsive to what employees are interested in. I dont think weve done a good job with that at all. So, Im a big advocate of things like employee wellness committees. They engage employees and allow them to get involved in the programs and to take ownership of them. Getting employees involvedemployees at all levels, not just managers, but also line supervisors and those on the front linesis really key.

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Additionally, we cannot ignore the importance of marketing these programs. If people dont know they exist, theyre not going to participate and take advantage of them. And dont forget that employees can help with the marketing. If theyre part of these wellness committees, theyll do a great job getting the word out. We also need to do a better job with evaluation. I think strategic planning for wellness should include mechanisms that allow you to track your progress. You need to ask your employees: Is this working? You need to provide some front-end benchmarking that shows where you were and where you are now. Keep in mind that employees love hearing good news. They like hearing that the workforce is getting healthier. They like hearing the success stories. Moreover, this creates a culture shift and a positive, healthy environment where employees like to work. When employees know that their employer cares about their health and wellbeing, it creates a culture shift, and that is just an amazing thing when you see it happen. Lastly, when I think about strategic planning for wellness, my goal is to see the entire organization take on a new feel. I like to see organizations that are supportive of health, and that create a work environment and culture that encourages and embraces health. Its not a stick approach; its a carrot approach. Its an approach that fully involves employees in the change process. The good news is that our data is showing us the way showing us the benchmarks and how to get there. So, we really need to keep monitoring this, and keep doing good research that will help build the evidence-based programming and culture shifts that truly make a difference.

National Worksite Health Survey Results Are Available


Dr. Laura Linnan and her colleagues conducted the 2004 National Worksite Health Promotion Survey, by examining a national cross-section of worksite wellness programs. Results showed only 6.9% of worksites offered comprehensive programsindicating an important need to increase the number, quality and types of programs offered across the nation.

Read The Full Results At:


http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/ reprint/98/8/1503.pdf

Keep in mind that employees love hearing good news. They like hearing that the workforce is getting healthier. They like hearing the success stories.
DH: It seems like weve got a long way to go when it comes to offering comprehensive workplace wellness programs in business and industry. How long do you think it will take us to get there, and are you optimistic about the journey? LL: Im an eternal optimist, so Im convinced well get there. I think its hard to apply a strict timetable on when we will see a move from seven to 75 percent. Its not going to happen overnight. However, I believe that there are things happening in the larger social context of our country that are going to help us. We need some political will here. It cant just be on an employer-by-employer basis. While we certainly need

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AT-A- GL ANCE SUMMARY

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You Can Become WELCOA Faculty
Take part in four or more of WELCOAs nationally-recognized certification courses and earn the elite title of WELCOA Faculty! The WELCOA Faculty designation credits those who strive to build effective, results-oriented wellness programs that change lives and transform organizations.

Quotable
from Laura Linnan

Even Small Worksites Can Create Supportive Environments


There are opportunities for creating a more health-supportive environment in all worksites. Simple options include creating a measured walking distance around the worksite or in the surrounding community. You can also focus on the foods that are offered in your cafeteria and/or vending machines. Are healthy food choices labeled? Are special promotions offered? Are there healthy catering options you can leverage? PagE 5

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Maximize Your Programs


Think about policies that are already in place or could be in place to help support the health of your workers. Think beyond just wellnessthink about integrated approaches. For example, try partnering with your employee assistance program. After all, a great portion of the illnesses and health care costs we face today are linked to stress and mental health. PagE 6

Make Opportunities For Employees To get Involved


Im a big advocate of things like employee wellness committees. They engage employees and allow them to get involved in the programs and to take ownership of them. Getting employees involvedemployees at all levels, not just managers, but also line supervisors and those on the front linesis really key. PagE 6

Surveys and Evaluations are Key


The good news is that our data is showing us the wayshowing us the benchmarks and how to get there. So, we really need to keep monitoring this, and keep doing good research that will help build the evidence-based programming and culture shifts that truly make a difference. PagE 7

Support For Wellness On a National Level

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I think its hard to apply a strict timetable on when will we see [results-oriented programs] move from seven to 75 percent. Its not going to happen overnight. However, I believe that there are things happening in the larger social context of our country that are going to help us. We need some political will here. It cant just be on an employer-by-employer basis. PagE 7

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employers to take ownership and get on board, we also need some support in the larger political, social and economic environment. When I think about health care reform and whats out there and what we can expect with some of the new initiatives, I am optimistic. I think weve got some new efforts underway at the national level that weve never had the infrastructure or funding for in the past. For example, theres an opportunity for creating regular monitoring of worksite health promotion programs. Im happy to say that the CDC and the Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion are working together to instill this regular monitoring. Thats one small, but important step.

Employees in particular need to know that being healthy is in their own best interest and the interest of their family.
Secondly, we need to think about some incentives for employers when they offer comprehensive programs. In the new health care reform initiative, there are various incentives built in for employers to offer these programs. So, if they stick, I think were in luck because having some incentive for employers to offer will be great. I also think employees themselves need incentives. There are evidence-based efforts that support the whole issue of incentives. For example, if you do a health risk appraisal and you provide appropriate feedback, theres evidence that that(awareness, or feedback) actually stimulates some health behavior change among employees. So, why not incent that? Get insurers to make that (what?) available either free or at very low cost. We need incentives at the national level, we need employers to get on board, and we need employees to realize that its in their own best interest. Employees in particular need to know that being healthy is in their own best interest and the interest of their family. Moreover, being healthy is in the interest of keeping jobs and maybe even creating jobs. So, the idea of an incentive structure for worksite wellness programs can help promote and support healthy behavior change. I think that should help accelerate the process of moving us beyond the seven percent mark. I think the incentives will help us take this on as a business strategy as well as a personal strategy. I dont think you can have one without the other. I think employers need to be on board. I think employees need to be on board. We need to be working together on this and not be polarized by it.

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about Madeline Jahn, mol

Madeline Jahn is the Communications Associate for the Wellness Council of America. Her role is to coordinate the development of new publications and pool existing resources for WELCOA members, serving the mission of health promotion through marketing and planning support. She has a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. For questions about this publication, or to obtain permission for reprinting, please contact Maddy at mjahn@welcoa.org.

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WELCOa 2011 Webinar Series


We are pleased to announce our dynamic 2011 WELCOA Webinar Series. This year, we are focusing on a number of exciting topics that will help you in your quest to build and sustain a results-oriented wellness program. Each Webinar is

conducted by a nationally-recognized expert in the field of workplace wellness. And perhaps best of all, each session is offered in a Webinar format which allows you to access the information without having to leave your office.

*The Webinar series is free to WELCOA members. If you are a current WELCOA member and would like to register, please visit http://infopoint.welcoa.org/. If youre not a WELCOA member, you should be! Visit: http://www.welcoa.org/member/benefits.php

Become a WELCOa member for only $365/yr and attend all these webinars for free!

JANUARY Title: Eat Right for Life: A Common-Sense Approach To Promoting Better Nutrition At The Workplace Registration for this webinar is now closed.

JUNE Title: Unleashing The Power Of Medical Self-Care In Your Organization Registration for this certification is now closed.

NOVEMBER Title: Are Cell Phones Making Us Sick? An Examination Of The Latest Research And The Implications For Your Workforce Date: Thursday, November 17 Time: 9:30 11:00 AM Central

FEBRUARY Title: Gaining Great CEO Support: How To Get And Keep Senior Level Support In A Down Economy Registration for this webinar is now closed.

APRIL Title: Coronary Health Improvement Project Registration for this webinar is now closed.

AUGUST Title: 11 Ridiculously Simple Things You Can Do To Nudge Physical Activity Along In Your Organization Date: Thursday, August 18 Time: 9:30 11:00 AM Central

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SEPTEMBER Title: Little Things Make A Big Difference: How America's Healthiest Companies Create Excitement and Generate Participation Date: Thursday, September 29 Time: 9:30 11:00 AM Central

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DECEMBER Title: Terrific Teams: The Six Secrets Of Best In Class Workplace Wellness Teams Date: Thursday, December 15 Time: 9:30 11:00 AM Central

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Become a WELCOa member for only $365/yr and attend all these webinars. These webinars are open only to WELCOa members

MARCH Title: Well Workplace UniversityHow To Demonstrate A Return-On-Investment Registration for this certification is now closed.

JULY/AUGUST Title: Well Workplace UniversityThe Art And Science Of Changing Unhealthy Behaviors Registration for this certification is now closed.

OCTOBER Title: Well Workplace UniversityHow To Effectively Manage Your Workplace Wellness Initiative Date: Wednesdays 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26 Time: 9:30 11:00 AM Central

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WELCOA offers valuable information that is greatly appreciated.

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