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‘Best and Brightest in Wellness’ provide inspiration for quality and excellence

You might say they give new, deeper meaning to the phrase “healthy bottom line.”

The winners of the annual Michigan’s Best and Brightest in Wellness awards are recognized and celebrated for their quality and excellence in health awareness.

The awards highlight employers, wellness providers, schools, faith-based groups, and nonprofits that promote a culture of wellness, as well as those that plan, implement and evaluate efforts in employee wellness to make their business and communities a healthier place to live and work.

More specifically, winners are recognized in seven categories: Wellness Employers, Wellness Benefit Consultant Providers to Corporations, Wellness Providers to Corporations, Wellness Providers to Individuals, Faith-based Organizations, Schools and School Districts, and Nonprofit.

Representatives of the winning organizations were invited to celebrate during an Oct. 20 reception at The Henry in Dearborn.

Gaining special recognition were nine Elite Winners. Their profiles follow.

 

Wellness Employers

DTE Energy
DTE Energy’s aspiration is to be the best-operated energy company in North America and a force for growth and prosperity in the communities it serves. Part of that aspiration includes a commitment to employees’ health. In fact, two of the seven values supporting the company’s mission directly relate to health and wellness: putting the health and safety of people first, and bringing “our best energy and focus to work.”

DTE Energy believes healthy employees are highly engaged and safe employees who can bring their best energy to work every day, but equally important, have sufficient energy for the lives they lead outside of work.

Energize Your Life (EYL) is DTE Energy’s well-being program to help employees, pre-65 retirees and their families get the most from life. Whether it’s getting active and eating healthy, learning how to save for the future or saving money with valuable discounts, EYL gives employees the resources they need to succeed.

DTE Energy takes a total well-being approach to health, including physical health, emotional health, financial health and social well-being. Its offerings are grouped into four areas that power the well-being of employees:

—Power of Knowledge
—Power of Environment
—Power of Support
—Power of Engagement

Twice a year, DTE Energy asks employees to rate their perception of the company’s sincere interest in the health and well-being of its employees through Gallup. The scores are based on a five-point scale, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 being the highest score. Results have been very positive, ranging from 4.35 in the fall of 2015, to 4.42 in the fall of 2016, with the most recent being 4.48 in the spring of 2017.

Schupan & Sons Inc.
At Schupan & Sons Inc., which offers a diverse catalog of metal distribution, manufacturing, metal recycling and beverage recycling services, employees have a large say in establishing wellness policies. The company has a wellness committee consisting of 15 members who represent every facility/division of the company. It meets at least quarterly to plan specific programs. Each member has the responsibility to actively participate in each meeting by offering feedback and presenting ideas for what works for the employees of their facility/division.

In addition, each year, all employees are surveyed by an outside consulting firm, Health Plan Advocate. The survey presents specific questions that offer insight into employees’ motivation to engage in wellness activities, as well as ideas/thoughts on programming, biometrics, incentives, etc. The feedback is utilized as a tool to assist the wellness committee and management team in determining the structure of wellness initiatives relative to programming and benefit structure. Outcomes are measured on a quarterly basis to ensure Schupan is moving in the right direction by lowering health risks.

A three-year strategic wellness plan created by Schupan leadership and the wellness committee offers several perks, including $600 per year for all employees and their spouses for healthy activities, including gym reimbursement incentives;  access to an online wellness portal; online educational material, activity tracking and challenges; biometrics tied to health insurance premiums; individual coaching to all employees in high-risk categories; free annual flu shots on-site; quarterly potlucks with healthy food choices; on-site yoga; moisture-wicking shirts supplied to employees as part of their uniform; and stand-up desks and ergonomic chairs.

Senior leadership provides $60,000 annually for biometrics and other wellness programs, including tracking daily steps and syncing them to the wellness portal. Winners of the walking program are announced by senior leadership at the annual summer company picnic.

Southwest Michigan First
The Southwest Michigan First team is passionate about creating jobs and cultivating a strong economy in Southwest Michigan. The Kalamazoo-based economic development organization aims to create change in its community, but to accomplish that, it understands that employees must first be “well” as a team. The operation believes that wellness encompasses the five F’s: Fitness, Finance, Faith, Family and Food. Southwest Michigan First constantly seeks ways to keep its team healthy in each area through its programming and overall team culture.

To ensure the team is well cared for on an ongoing basis, one member is assigned to focus on wellness programs, which the organization refers to as team engagement. This team member is responsible for planning and executing internal events, such as helping the team celebrate each other’s personal and professional milestones or bringing in a guest speaker to inspire the team on one Friday per month, complemented by a locally made snack or beverage. This team member also keeps fellow workers engaged through little surprises: a piece of pie on March 14 or “pi” day, firecrackers on the Fourth of July or sunglasses to mark a team member’s efforts that result in the entire agency looking “cool.”

All team members are offered full family health care and dental benefits immediately upon joining the Southwest Michigan First team. There is no waiting period or required time of employment to access the robust benefits, which include top-of-the-line health benefits with health savings account contributions that equal the required deductible for each individual or family. Instead of worrying about medical bills and prescription costs, Southwest Michigan First wants employees to focus their energy and talent on their work and their families. Benefits also include life insurance and an additional 5 percent contribution to individual 401(k) accounts on top of what the team members choose to contribute themselves. These benefits are also offered to same-sex partners and nontraditional families.

 

Wellness Benefit Consultant Providers to Corporations

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. takes an integrated total rewards-based approach to aligning benefits with organizational goals. It goes beyond traditional wellness focused solely on the physical health of employees and picking the right vendor and instead dives into understanding client organizations, exploring initiatives that cohesively fit within their strategic business goals and objectives and are valued by their employees.

It creates a customized strategy recognizing that the most effective wellness initiatives are not static but are dynamic, ever-changing and constantly improving as a company’s culture and employees’ needs change.

Its approach to wellness is more than just fitness, weight loss or disease management. Rather it takes a look at employees’ overall well-being, integrating these five essential areas: physical, emotional, financial, career and community well-being.

Gallagher believes that overall well-being is an integral part of a company’s strategy to contain costs, impact employee engagement, heighten productivity and create a corporate culture reflective of changing workforce dynamics. To address the unique needs of clients, it has created a proprietary National Market Analysis of over 300 wellness vendors. This market scan positions Gallagher to find best-in-class vendors for clients that meet their specific goals and culture. The market scan allows Gallagher to rank vendors by services offered, technology, sustainability, innovation and integration capabilities and gives it the leverage to pre-negotiate performance guarantees and preferred pricing for clients.

 

Wellness Providers to Corporations

American Institute for Preventive Medicine
The American Institute for Preventive Medicine’s mission is to help people lead a healthy life by providing high-quality health promotion publications, programs, and services. It aims to create accurate, affordable, easy-to-use information that benefits clients and involves them in the vital health care decisions they make for themselves and their families. The Farmington Hills-based operation was founded in 1983, making it one of the older wellness companies, and proclaims that its products have proved effective at reducing health care costs and absenteeism.

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine is a comprehensive wellness provider that offers products and services through an approach it has labeled CALMER2, which is an acronym for Communication materials including wellness newsletters, posters, and calendars; Health assessments; Lifestyle change programs for tobacco cessation, weight control and nutrition, stress management and sleep enhancement; Medical self-care programs to help employees become wiser health care consumers; Educational materials packaged in novel ways to increase compliance and motivation; Rewards; and Reporting.

With a high client retention rate, the American Institute for Preventive Medicine measures success on the following criteria: cost savings, participation, reduction in risk factors, increases in productivity and decreases in presenteeism, absenteeism and turnover rates, and employee satisfaction.

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine is not only a wellness provider but also a thought leader in the field. Its senior staff speaks at all of the major human resource and health promotion national conferences. The company also contributes to health promotion literature, with its latest research on generational wellness and how to reach the most diverse workforce in history.

 

Wellness Providers to Individuals

Authority Health
The Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, which does business as Authority Health, coordinates efforts to improve the health of the overall population in Detroit and Wayne County by ensuring access to care and promoting wellness. Authority Health strengthens the health network for underserved populations by promoting health insurance enrollment and navigation, primary care service expansion, integrated wellness care services and health workforce development.

Although it is a public corporation, Authority Health does not receive direct public funding. Its funding comes from professional services contracts, philanthropic and government grants, and matching funds from the Medicaid program. A public health agency governed by the state of Michigan, Wayne County and the city of Detroit, it coordinates human and financial resources to create a stronger safety net for underserved and vulnerable populations and their health. Authority Health captures resources from varied sources to provide a one-stop shop of health insurance enrollment and navigation, primary care workforce development through a teaching health center and professional services placement program, and programs that address critical needs, such as a nurse home visiting program for low-income mothers called Nurse-Family Partnership.

While wellness is a much-used concept that often conveys fitness, alternative therapies and general practices designed to enhance the health of otherwise healthy people, Authority Health has adopted a model of wellness for chronically ill people who need support to manage their care and achieve a measure of wellness that prevents emergency and secondary medical care. Further, as a public health agency, Authority Health is conscious of the chronic stress that afflicts the vulnerable populations. To that end, it is partnering with Behavioral Health Professionals Inc. and Development Centers Detroit to create an integrated wellness center in a former school building. The model has adaptability for other empty school buildings in underserved areas of the city.

 

Faith-based Organizations

Fellowship Chapel
Congregants of the Fellowship Chapel in Detroit give more than lip service to the concept of the body being a temple. For example, every fourth Sunday, the chapel’s Physical Fitness and Health Ministry provides blood pressure and blood sugar screenings.  It also offers ongoing weight loss management and preventative measures with the goal of avoiding health complications and hospitalizations. The Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony acknowledges and celebrates participant’s accomplishments by having them stand before and receive applause from the entire congregation.

Health and nutrition also are at the forefront of fellowship meals inside the chapel, where no vending machines are allowed and congregants are encouraged not to drink pop.  A variety of healthy fare is presented, including fruits and vegetables and lean meats. The meals provide fuel for the physical fitness programs that are scheduled and administered throughout the week, including aerobics, yoga, tai chi, Zumba and walking.

The Women’s Christian Fellowship created a Passport to Wellness booklet to help congregants document and keep track of upcoming health appointments and results and establish a rapport with their physician. The parish nurse will hold individual private consultations, and the chapel also stages various workshops on topics such as nutrition, assisting loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, kidney diseases and recognizing the signs of strokes and heart attacks.

The Fellowship Chapel and its members also regularly partner with or participate in various outside health organizations and activities. For example, it has staged American Red Cross blood drives and three-mile health walks, with participants receiving medals.

 

Nonprofit

Operation Fit — Battle Creek Community Foundation
Healthiness and learning go hand in hand through Operation Fit, a Battle Creek Community Foundation program implemented in partnership with the Battle Creek Public Schools and Lakeview School District. Operation Fit helps schools implement three major fitness initiatives.

The first is called Morning Movement, which is how each participating school starts its day. When students arrive to school, they meet in a common area (outside on good-weather days and inside during inclement weather). The students are led by either an Operation Fit coordinator or a gym teacher through a three- to five-minute routine of stretching, cardio and cool down to get the students’ bodies and brains ready for learning that day.

Also, during lunch recess, each school’s lunch supervisors are trained by Operation Fit personnel on Active Recess principles. Operation Fit purchased carts filled with playground equipment to keep students as active as possible during recess.

The third fitness initiative is Mileage Club, a six-week walking/running program (before, during and in some schools, after school) that provides incentives to get students moving, such as toe tokens, water bottles, flashing reflectors, T-shirts and two bikes per school for the top finishers. Operation Fit trains Mileage Club coordinators and purchases an easy-to-use system for tracking student/school mileage and all the incentive prizes. Because of the success of the program, each school developed an after-school Fun Run for students and families.

Operation Fit Coordinators also implement many other fitness opportunities at schools, including Workout Wednesdays (schoolwide brain breaks), classroom brain breaks using GoNoodle videos, Healthy Heart week activities and family fitness nights. Operation Fit also helped one school implement cardio drumming classes during phys ed sessions.

The numbers bear out Operation Fit’s success. For example, 84 percent of the participating schools’ students recently passed their PE Pacer Testing, which is up from 65 percent two years ago; 70.5 percent of teachers are positive about morning movement, brain breaks and indoor recess; and 89.7 percent report students are more focused after movement.

 

Schools and School Districts

Keith Elementary School
Administrators at Keith Elementary School in West Bloomfield understand that an important way to help students succeed is to be sure they get proper nutrition, so they offer high-quality, nutritious meals to all students at an affordable price. A complete lunch includes an entrée, a fruit, a vegetable and milk, and the school offers a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread, and reduced-fat and -calorie entrees. In addition, a salad bar for students and staff is loaded with numerous fresh food options. For snack time, students are allowed only healthy fare, and teachers help remind families what “healthy” includes.

Also, this is the fourth year of the Keith Giving Garden, a student-run garden adjacent to the school building. Each grade manages all aspects of its section from starting seeds to harvesting. Throughout the summer, families in the community are invited to help with the garden maintenance and sample the veggies and herbs.

Keith also offers many programs throughout the year to encourage families to learn about how food and exercise can positively affect not only the quality of one’s education but also a family’s overall quality of life.  For example, it stages annual Walk to School and Bike to School days; the Keith Mileage Club, which encourages children to use the on-site track during recess break; and a Fun Run, a PTA-sponsored fall fundraiser, during which students participate with their class and grade level by running or walking as many laps as they are able in 15 minutes while their neighbors and family members pledge donations for their efforts.

Mike Turner

Mike Turner, a graduate of Michigan State University, has worked as a business writer and editor for daily and weekly newspapers and other publications throughout Michigan. He now operates a freelance editing and writing business and works as a public relations specialist and copywriter.