Wellness Program Champions Reap Benefits of a Culture of Health

When employees are healthy, it follows that the organization they call their home away from home is healthier as well.

That’s the essence behind wellness programs that more and more of the successful companies are adopting or putting a new emphasis on-”and achieving benefits that they might not have fully realized when they embarked on this journey.

Consider for example, the fact that Altair Engineering has, through its Altair Health Services, facilitated more than 1,100 office visits since it began less than 18 months ago. Or that its “Amazing Losers” program continues to help staff with their weight loss challenges.

Or that Quicken Loans, as another example of wellness taken to the next level, does more than lend money. It adds to its employee balance sheet with a variety of initiatives that’s paying off in a long-term way-”voluntary health screenings, partnerships with local health clubs and a corporate view that we’re all in this together.

Even Wigs4Kids, a charitable organization that brings children with cancer the dignity they so richly deserve, is reaching out to its staff with initiatives as simple as providing time off when it’s most needed. “When our employees have the opportunity of enjoying more free time, they are more likely to take better care of their health,” notes founder and CEO Maggie Varney.

So read on. We think you’ll be inspired by these examples of Michigan organizations that are not only transforming their sense of business, but doing so with the wellness of those they touch as well. They are all winners of the Corp! magazine Best & Brightest Wellness Champions awards for 2012.

A.J. Danboise Son Inc.

Farmington Hills
CEO David Boduch believes he has the secret to helping employees at A.J. Danboise achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. “We’ve found that providing a constant message of health and wellness results in greater participation, even if you don’t always see it,” notes the leader of this plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical firm. With programs like Door-2-Door Organics, Healthy Vending Options, Subsidized gym memberships, subsidized Weight Watchers programs, and various exercise competitions like a Walk Across America Challenge and an in-house version of Biggest Loser, the firm strives to make sure there is something for everyone. Boduch acknowledges that actions speak louder than words. “We try to encourage people to take part in company wellness events, but also to promote their own health and wellness endeavors so that other people might join in.” He also says having strong company leadership support is key. It’s working, says Boduch, who adds one change to the firm’s wellness strategy came from an employee who hadn’t been involved in any of the heath challenges. “One day he shared with us that while he wasn’t taking part in the competitions in the open, he and his wife had been competing on their own at home.” By including spouses in the programs, Boduch says there’s been a dramatic increase in employee participation.

Altair Engineering

Altair has integrated a variety of initiatives and policies in an effort to encourage wellness among its employees. Altair Health Services, the firm’s onsite health care clinic, is located in its headquarters building, and is available to all employees and their families. Staffed by a full time nurse practitioner (also an Altair employee) the facility addresses common health concerns; allowing employees to avoid a time-consuming trip to the doctor and office-visit co-pays. Altair Health Services has facilitated more than 1,100 office visits since its inception in July 2011. Monthly wellness presentations cover a variety of topics including stress management and office ergonomics. A weight loss program-””Altair’s Amazing Losers”-”and an annual Altair Health Fair with sports/school physical and flu shot clinics round out the company’s wellness initiatives. Staff can also schedule a massage during work hours with an on-site massage therapist as well as yoga classes and a daily lunch walk program. The company also has in-house exercise facilities that are accessible on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week.

Altarum Institute

Ann Arbor
An organization devoted at its core to solving complex systems problems related to human health, Altarum is doing its best to do so in a way that includes helping the people it works with most closely: its employees. It does so by offering an atmosphere where individual growth in a comfortable and balanced work environment is possible. Among the initiatives Altarum has embraced: flextime, sponsor programs for new employees, fitness activities, time off for community service, and a focus on diversity in the workplace. Being able to achieve its mission, the leadership of the organization believes, is due in large part to being able to continuously learn, innovate and solve problems. But that can’t happen without promoting the well-being of its own employees.

Austin Financial Group

Bloomfield Hills
From the perspective of Austin Financial’s leadership, this benefits company takes a holistic view when it comes to wellness, integrating its importance into the culture of the company with events and opportunities during and outside working hours. Understanding that not every employee views or values the same initiatives, the company’s strategy is multi-faceted. One example: an eight-week yoga class, supported financially by the firm. The initiative was a great opportunity to bond and build camaraderie, plus it allowed employees to use flex time for making flexible choices. On a smaller scale, Austin Financial Group is offering healthy snack items and replacing the standard desk chair with an exercise ball. Believing that education is the first step in a healthy lifestyle, the company publishes a monthly newsletter on topics that are of interest to the team. And the firm has designed a three-tier wellness program to assist clients in adopting a wellness culture.

Brown & Brown of Detroit

Sterling Heights
When you start out with purpose, results follow. That’s the thinking behind Brown & Brown of Detroit’s wellness program, a long-term initiative that the insurance provider has built for its own employees as well as clients that sign up for its “Wellness 1-2-3” offering. For Brown & Brown of Detroit staff, a well-rounded program that includes an Employee Assistance Program, early closings for enrichment, and paid time off for annual physical and health testing is all part of a culture that supports and encourages a balanced life. The benefits to employees are clear, but so is the business advantage, where people are more motivated at work, productivity has increased and absenteeism rates have lowered. The program has been in place for at least six years, but it’s been in the last three that the momentum appears to have increased as more employees have become engaged in the initiatives over time.

Carson City Hospital

Carson City
Developing a healthier workforce would seem to be second nature to an organization with “hospital” in its name. And that’s certainly the case with Carson City Hospital, an affiliate of Sparrow Health located in western Michigan. Treating its employees with as much care as its patients, Carson City has implemented several of its wellness objectives over the past year, including introducing a smoke-free workplace and a program to diagnose and treat future medical problems. An on-site Weight Watchers at Work program (discounted to employees) and a Snap Fitness discount as well as a flu shot initiative are just part of what Carson City administrators have included in their plan. Add to that an Associate Wellness Clinic that’s available free of charge and you begin to get the picture. Participating Associates are also invited to complete an annual health risk appraisal/personal health evaluation in the clinic, which is staffed by a Nurse Practitioner. In addition, there are several resource materials available and a reduction in health care premiums is passed on to employees and their spouses for participation in the program. Next year, Carson City Hospital plans even more initiatives designed to improve the overall health and wellness of its staff.

Citizens Bank

The formal wellness program of Citizens Bank-”CBFit4Life-”has been part in place since 2009, but its goals remain solidly relevant even today. One of those is at its most enduring: encouraging Citizens Bank employees to participate in activities to maintain or improve their health. The program includes a variety of free wellness tools, including challenge competitions that promote fitness, healthy diet, stress relief and adequate sleep. Working with the bank’s medical insurance carrier, a “Commit to Get Fit” challenge provides a friendly competition that employees use to give fellow workers a bit of a nudge when needed. The bank uses a variety of communication tools to keep employees informed and motivated, among them an internal portal and a dedicated website, along with e-mail and direct mail pieces. The CBFit4Life program is geared toward improving health risk factors with a focus on outcomes. Employees and spouses can qualify for reduced contributions on the medical plan by completing an annual health risk assessment and visiting their primary care physician for completion of a Care Plan. To date, some 83 percent of Citizens Bank employees and spouses are active in the program.

Consumers Credit Union

Even as Consumers Credit Union boasts more than $370 million in assets and a growth rate of 18 percent annually for 27 consecutive years, the firm takes what it calls a holistic approach to wellness. With a focus on education, engagement and resources, as well as one-on-one coaching sessions and a voluntary reporting system employees can use to earn prizes, Consumers has nearly 80 percent of employees actively engaged in the voluntary program. Consumers says the idea of wellness has always been part of its culture. “We talk about wellness in every corporate communication and our CEO lives and breathes this as well,” says Shawn Premer, the firm’s vice president of human resources. “We talk to employees about taking a total approach to living healthy. Our management team is fully engaged with the program and they are leading the charge to support and grow our wellness culture.” Even before the wellness program was in place, the firm made sure its catered lunches were always healthy, the company provided fruit for employees and it paid 80 percent of gym memberships. “We truly understand that healthy employees are happier and more engaged overall,” adds Premer.

DTE Energy

DTE Energy’s 8-year-old “Energize Your Life” wellness initiative truly has the best interests of the firm’s employees at heart. “We want people to be healthy and well and bring their best energy to work,” said Susan Bailey, manager of wellness and health promotion. On the company’s website, an entire section (www.dteenergy.com/eyl) is devoted to helping employees explore their options and learn more about the wide-ranging program, which include incentives as broad and varied as a quarterly draw and the earning of “HealthyMe” credits. Earn at least 25 credits per quarter and an employee will get $100-”$400 a year. There’s also incentives not to start smoking and a “surcharge” for represented employees who smoke but opt out of a cessation program. The company’s wellness partner, RedBrick Health, operates a portal that gives employees tools they can use to systematically improve their health through various tips, and even coaching to make a difference. Employees can schedule a one-on-one discussion with a representative from RedBrick Health to begin their journey to better health. The purpose of the DTE Energy wellness program is as simple as it is effective: “Empower all individuals to live with high energy, good health and passion for life.”

Experi-Metal Inc.

Sterling Heights
This world-class supplier and manufacturer of prototype tooling and low volume metal stampings is just as committed to getting and keeping its employees in good shape as it is serving its customers. What company do you know that has its own company garden? And an onsite chef that uses those vegetables to serve to employees? It’s an excellent way, the company says, to use the grounds while providing an incentive for eating well to employees. Exercise is a key objective as well and Experi-Metal has a company gym for employees to use at their convenience. If that weren’t enough, the company holds a number of luncheons throughout the year as a way to show its appreciation for the good work and dedication of its staff. Sometimes wellness also means giving back to others, which Experi-Metal employees are encouraged to do. Last Christmas, staff partnered with Gleaners Food Bank of Michigan to raise money. The firm matched employee donations dollar for dollar, funds that were then matched again by Wal-Mart. Add to these activities a couple of team building exercises in the form of a golf outing and an ice cream social and it’s clear: These folks like to have fun while creating an atmosphere that promotes wellness all around.

Express Employment Professionals

Grand Rapids
The Grand Rapids office of Express Employment Professionals has less than a dozen employees but that doesn’t mean they don’t have big ideas when it comes to wellness. Indeed, those hard-working individuals have made it a point to compete in a quarterly 5K run as well as going up against one another for a chance to win a gift card redeemable at one of the local sporting goods or wellness related retailers in the area. Employees in the Grand Rapids office, one of some 600 franchised operations throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa, keep each other on their toes, earning a “star for the day” for logging at least 30 minutes of exercise, a goal that comes in handy when you consider how hard they work during the day. Healthy eating is also encouraged, but the wellness initiatives go beyond the physical emphasis-”employees also take time to concentrate on spiritual and mental wellness in addition to their physical health. As a result they’re better able to meet their workplace goals.

Family Victory Fellowship Church

This independent church of some 1,100 has gathered a team of health professionals to provide those who attend the very best tools when it comes to improving not only their spiritual health but also their physical well-being as well. Pastor Larry Jordan set the mark himself with the loss of 45 pounds, an initiative that he says had others asking questions about how he did it. From there the conversation moved on to how the congregation as a whole could make some life-transforming changes. “We’ve developed a congregational wellness plan,” notes Jordan of the initiative that has gained momentum. By partnering with Providence Hospital, Family Victory has been able to make a real difference in the lives of those who worship at the church, which has been serving its community for some 20 years.


Grand Rapids
Flexco, a firm with more than a century of experience in manufacturing conveyor belt fasteners and related products, has been actively pursuing a culture of wellness for the latest decade. With a nearly 90 percent participation rate by 2012, the momentum is clearly increasing, with more and more activities that support mind, body and a generous spirit being added every year. Some of the company-sponsored activities include monthly “Subway” walks, lunch and learns, onsite fitness classes and annual biometric screenings. The company offers several ways for employees to engage in the community, including a “Return to the Community” committee that coordinates fundraising activities throughout the year, benefiting local charities. Flexco also allows employees to volunteer with the Schools of Hope program allowing paid leave for employees to tutor local elementary students. Now focused on a results-based model for its wellness program, employees are making a one-year commitment to improve overall health by reducing their weight by at least one Body Mass Index level or 20 pounds. Onsite fitness and nutrition counseling is part of a strategy that has Flexco employees looking forward to many more healthy years.

Hastings Mutual Insurance Company

Fitness and wellness has become part of the culture of Hastings Mutual in the best possible way: from employees on up. “Employees have taken on the idea of wellness as a personal goal,” notes Julie Hutchins, the company’s human resources manager. With groups such as Weight Watchers, along with various fitness classes-”including yoga and Pilates-”employees have come on board in a huge way. “They’ve really created a spirit of health and wellness,” adds Hutchins. “They’ve taken control of their lives.” And the business is being transformed in the process. “Not only does it help in terms of keeping people healthy, they’re getting business done too-”the personal relationships that are being developed positively affect the way they do business with one another.” Hastings has brought in registered dieticians to help employees as well, with a personalized program in place. The fee for the 12-week program is rebated to employees that maintain their weight loss over time.

Hylant Group

Toledo, Ohio
A well-known insurance broker with a wide range of products, Hylant acknowledges that its strength largely comes down to how it treats its employees, notably helping them be well. Indeed, CEO Mike Hylant says even while he can’t directly tie his company’s wellness program to employee retention, there’s little doubt it has helped bolster retention. “Worksite wellness is one factor in fostering a positive work environment, where employees contribute and want to do their best. This type of environment helps retain experienced employees, which provides considerable value to our business.” With many employees passing even the 30-year mark in service, Hylant’s multi-faceted approach to wellness is seen as something that is a contributor. Having a multi-faceted approach is part of Hylant’s strategy to wellness. “While traditional programs tend to emphasize physical health, we take a broader view,” notes Hylant. “Our focus is on employee well-being, targeting the physical as well as emotional and social aspects of wellness.” Along with the ability for an employee to earn cash rewards for certain parts of the program, the company has also tied health premiums to wellness outcomes, with lower rates dependent on health outcomes. “This total well-being approach not only promotes a culture of well-being, but also provides more resources and opportunities for employees to become involved, which ultimately helps in appealing to and engaging employees in wellness,” says Hylant. Headquartered in Toledo, Hylant has Michigan offices in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School

When students graduate from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Redford, chances are they’re going to be one fit group of kids. It’s thanks to a wellness program designed to “raise the bar” on physical fitness through a variety of initiatives, including adhering to national and state standards for food service, an after-school walking/running club, health classes as part of the physical education program, and even a chef that teaches after school student cooking classes. The school provides a variety of incentives to students who meet stated fitness goals, including recognition for those “caught” eating healthy during lunchtime, a Golden Shoe award for physical fitness/teamwork, and “Toe Tokens” for miles walked as part of the after-school club. Others are taking note as well: Oakwood Hospital has recognized the school as a “fit model” institution and the school has received grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield for Healthy Communities and the NFL for promoting physical fitness. The number of staff participating in after school activities is on the rise and students are asking questions when it comes to the content of fat and calories in their school lunches.

Kapnick Insurance Group

This 60-year-old firm, now led by the founder’s grandson, is continuing to adapt to current times, says CEO Jim Kapnick. With a program designed to systematically improve the health and wellness of its employees and an online health portal for them to track their progress, scores are produced that give employees an objective measurement they can use to get and keep healthier. “We have found that financial incentives tied to health outcomes have kept our employees engaged,” says Kapnick. The STRIVE program, which uses data to assess an employee’s health risk, also features videos, regular e-mail and other types of individual communication to employees, and outreach communication to an employee’s family, all designed to improve the health of individuals in the Kapnick family. After the first year of the program, participants are asked to complete a screening; in order to receive an incentive, they must receive a health score of 71 or more, or improve from last year’s health score by five points. Kapnick employees are in the monthly wellness videos and two employees write a weekly blog about their journey to better health. In addition, corporate teams participate in local 5K walks/runs and the company reimburses registration fees for those who participate.

Lake Michigan Financial

Lake Michigan Financial has ramped up its already impressive wellness programs this year, adding several initiatives CEO Rich Lievense hopes will improve the health of employees. Lake Michigan, the holding company of two western Michigan banks-”the Bank of Holland (in Grand Rapids) and the Bank of Northern Michigan (in Petoskey)-”is tracking the results of the changes, which include incentives for participation and various educational sessions. By earning enough wellness credits throughout the year, employees receive a discounted rate on health insurance premiums, or those who opt out of insurance receive a “wellness bonus” at the end of the year. Taking part in onsite biometric screenings can encourage employees to visit their primary care physician for follow up. “Every year since 2009, we have had an increase in the number of employees participating in onsite biometric screenings,” notes Lievense. “This year, we had 80 percent participation, which included all employees, not just those who carry our benefits.” The health and wellness strategy covers nutrition and activity challenges, a wellness credit for weight maintenance and weight loss, and self-directed activity minutes tracking. Employees hear about the programs through a variety of methods, among them in-person meetings, e-mail, phone and computer-based presentations. In addition, wellness representatives at each location post fliers, generate e-mail reminders, and act as wellness champions, coaches, and cheerleaders.

Lifestyle Solutions

Carolyn Hopkins, who has put her “heart and soul” into Lifestyle Solutions, is clear about her purpose and sense of mission behind the organization. “My health and wellness program helps employees and individuals understand that in order for them to feel good, look good, and to live a longer healthier life, they must take it upon themselves to make those important changes and understand what it takes to be motivated, and determined to make those changes a daily part of their lifestyle,” says Hopkins, an author (“Prayer Pamper Peace”) and wellness coach. Weaving the spiritual element of wellness into the mission of Lifestyle Solutions is key, says Hopkins. “I teach people how to schedule time to focus on how to start a healthy eating regimen, how to start and plan a regular workout regimen, what it means to pamper the mind, body, spirit and soul in order to be healthy both physically and mentally.” The approach to wellness at Lifestyle Solutions, Hopkins adds, includes programs that focus on alternative and holistic health. There’s also a direct emphasis on how lifestyle changes can lead to a longer and healthier live. How to prepare daily meals, basic and simple ways to exercise to maintain optimum health, yearly visits to get exams and checkups to prevent potential life-threatening diseases are all part of the program.

McGraw Wentworth

Creating and managing innovative benefits programs is the business of McGraw Wentworth. But embracing the idea of lifestyle change and an attitude of wellness is just as important for making a difference, says CEO Thomas McGraw, whose firm has adopted an open door management approach to improving the health of employees. “We respond and implement ideas that people have, which has the effect of keeping current employees satisfied and engaged,” adds McGraw. One example is the weekly yoga class that takes place during work hours, the idea for which came from an employee who’s also a certified instructor. Another idea: a meditation space/time that could be used as a way to relieve workplace stress. Again, the company gave the idea a thumbs up. “Candidates are often surprised by the variety of perks and benefits that an employer our size is able to offer,” notes McGraw. “It intrigues them to ask: if McGraw Wentworth does this for their employees, what else do they do?” The wellness program stays fresh by continuing to incorporate new elements and setting new achievement levels. Communication is also key, both for existing employees and new hires. “We highlight our commitment to wellness in our recruiting efforts, including our designation as an American Heart Association Fit-Friendly Workplace and now as a Best & Brightest Wellness Champion,” adds McGraw. “We also communicate with our employees throughout the year, highlighting the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”

New Haven High School

New Haven
The good news when you’re designing a wellness program for a high school is that there are lots of opportunities to make a difference. The challenge, of course, is there are a lot of people who need attention. But New Haven High School is running on all cylinders, thanks to an attitude of inclusion-”bringing not only students, but also staff and parents together in a united front that is having a positive impact on the overall health of the school community. From a school café run by the school’s business classes and serving nutritious food, and a partnership with St. Johns Health System, which provides Web-based www.mynutratech.com software to track progress, the school is also identifying opportunities for improvement for its students and staff. In the 2011-2012 school year, New Haven began a yoga class, found to be a remarkably successful initiative. It’s also added a team building class led those at the nearby Selfridge Air National Guard base. Awards are a big part of New Haven’s wellness program, with a banquet for athletes and family celebrations as part of an ongoing initiative supported by local business. Students also get elective credit toward graduation when they complete the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge. Another plus to the wellness program is the partnership New Haven is enjoying with its neighboring district in Anchor Bay, with relationships developing among first responders, the health system, and even the faith-based community.

North American Bancard

From humble beginnings with one employee in a shared office, to over 600 employees in a 100,000-plus square-foot corporate office, North American Bancard is a true American success story and an emphasis on employee wellness is ensuring that the story continues to be written. Now an industry leader in processing of credit card transactions, the company is including its commitment to employee health as a key enabler. More high praise: The American Heart Association named the company as a 2010 Fit Friendly Gold Status company for its comprehensive wellness initiatives for employees.

North Central Michigan College

This educational institution takes wellness seriously, taking action in a variety of ways that include what some might consider esoteric: like the filtered water fountains throughout the campus. Still, the school’s president, Cameron Brunet-Koch, says it takes an approach that’s encompassing to make a difference. Having a tobacco-free campus is certainly on the list. As is a health insurance task force and leadership support of workday exercise breaks. Staff receives continuing education on such topics as osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity and nutrition. There are also worksite vaccinations and healthy snacks served at meetings and even a free running track for the entire community. An active wellness committee is in place, making sure information goes to all employees on health and nutrition, including sending healthy recipes by e-mail. The college even reaches out to the local farming community, providing fresh products with a low carbon footprint. And lest anyone think the changes aren’t being adopted by the school’s leadership, there’s also a series of “Beat the President” challenges in place at the fitness center.

Quicken Loans

There’s no question that Quicken Loans’ initiative in 2012 is paying off for the Detroit-based national lending organization. With some 6,000 employees in total (about 5,000 of whom are in Michigan), Quicken’s voluntary health screening program has already attracted an impressive 4,000 of those team members. Results of the screening will give staffers the opportunity to not only identify areas where they can improve their health but benefit from lower health care premiums. Initiatives such as on-site massages and yoga classes (both company paid) as well as the introduction of healthier choices in lunches that are delivered are part of the strategy. Quicken Loans is also partnering with local health clubs, all with a view to maximizing the health of those who work at the lender. Indeed, in some cases, employees have discovered undiagnosed health issues that they’re able to address as a result of the health screenings. Which is good news all around.

Rhonda Walker Foundation

West Bloomfield
Founded in 2003 by the eponymous morning anchor at WDIV-TV, the Rhonda Walker Foundation focuses on reaching inner city teen girls with a message of reaching their full potential. “Our teens cannot realize their full potential without also learning to care for their well-being,” notes the RWF website. “That’s why we stress physical exercise, self-defense, and a general awareness of observing a healthy lifestyle.” Among the initiatives are strenuous team building exercises during “Camp I Can,” dancing, Pilates, yoga and aerobics during “24-Hour Girl Talk” or walking in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure. RWF teens are frequently exposed to activities designed to reinforce the need to be active and stay fit. The girls also participate in workshops led by physicians, dentists, dermatologists, dieticians, and other health care professionals to learn the importance of physical fitness, proper oral hygiene, and good eating habits. They also learn to avoid the pitfalls presented by sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and emotional depression. “For our teens to become tomorrow’s leaders, they first have to take care of themselves today,” notes the foundation’s website. The RWF organized a health care fair featuring large group exercise activities and brought together people interested in taking better care of themselves with health care providers and other vendors specializing in physical fitness and wellness. The foundation says its Give & Get Fit Health and Fitness Fair and Run-Walk will become a mainstay for years to come.

Saint Mary’s Health Care and Advantage Health Physician’s Network

Grand Rapids
Increasing the “fun factor” is something Saint Mary’s has built into its wellness programs, along with using social media environments such as Facebook, Twitter and other Internet tools as well. Various challenges that encourage staff to adopt healthy lifestyle activities are, says CEO Phil McCorkle, working well, especially when it comes to helping reduce health care costs. “Based on the health care plan, employees are better off financially when they improve the specified health measurement parameters,” notes McCorkle. For example, if an employee actually goes to a health club at least six times a month, their membership fee is discounted. “We appeal to their desire to be connected. However, we also respect that health and wellness can be very personal and offer opportunities to engage independently and anonymously.” St. Mary’s also engages health care providers to share their time and talents in the creation and delivery of wellness programs. Other initiatives include a Summer Cycle Challenge, Weight Watchers membership and programs to help staff quit smoking. McCorkle says the programs in place are designed to work together for the benefit of all. “We are creating a work environment that supports total wellness, body, mind and spirit. We support the body by providing ready access with price incentives to both on and offsite exercise programs.”

Schupan & Sons

This recycler of plastic and glass does more than benefit the environment. It has a keen desire to improve the people who work there, so much so that it’s created a distinct website for that purpose. www.schupanshape.com has a theme that’s both compelling and pointed: “Get up and move.” The firm has put the same kind of commitment it brings to its industrial processes to the wellness environment, measuring its progress year over year (moving its “average population health score” up two full points and reducing the average number of health risk factors as well.) A company Schupan hired to do its individual employee health assessments reported a drop in those considered to be high risk in the areas of tobacco use, physical activity, nutrition habits and stress. A key objective of the wellness program, says the company, is to provide employees with the tools and support they need to achieve their personal wellness goals. Making it easy is a first step in that process and Schupan has included a points-based incentive program that leads to premium discounts on its health insurance.

Seco Tools

Bringing wellness to the employees of this Swedish-based manufacturer of carbide cutting tools may be about having fun, but as Jennifer Ostroff, human resources manager for the company’s U.S. distribution center explains, having top management on board was a key factor in itself. That means having at least one of the executive team at every event Seco organizes. “It brought a lot of people to the events that might not otherwise pay attention,” adds Ostroff. And then the fun begins. “We focused on fun rewards,” says Ostroff. A three-month summer exercise challenge that offered teams the opportunity to win a premium outdoor grill is one of the key events. But clearly, the wellness program is also about improving the reason people work at Seco as well. “It’s providing us with a win-win solution,” notes Ostroff. “We’ve seen over the last three years that we’ve had a decrease in incidence of diabetes and heart disease and that’s something that ends up costing everyone less money if we’re able to make those kinds of health improvements.” Which is one reason the wellness program will be getting even more emphasis in the coming year.

Serenity Christian Church

Hazel Park
Sometimes keeping things simple is the way to approach what might otherwise be a daunting task. That’s what Pastor Apostle John C. Harvey of Serenity Christian Church has found. The Hazel Park congregation does its best to keep people engaged by demonstrating that adopting a healthy lifestyle isn’t as difficult as one might think. “It inspires others to embrace a healthier lifestyle,” notes Harvey. “We believe in leading by example, even while acknowledging that it takes time to become committed to the process.” At Serenity gatherings, members and visitors alike may find themselves learning about how emotional healing or physical fitness impacts their ability to attain personal satisfaction and growth. Says Harvey: “Our members understand that they have to maintain overall health to fulfill their purpose in this life. If we are unhealthy, in any capacity, we will struggle to be effective in our various roles.” Open communication is encouraged within our faith community, which promotes sharing of ideas and tips. This communication creates an atmosphere that promotes empowerment; it shows members they have what it takes to accomplish their goals and that they have support. Harvey says the church’s role includes being able to help its members live more fully. “We believe the words of the Bible, therefore our culture is our lifestyle. Our bodies are temples and should be cared for. Being healthy is critical to our ability to fulfill our earthly purpose.”

SEI – Service Express Inc.

Grand Rapids
With more than 200 people located in 24 offices and 10 states, coming up with an integrated wellness program for Service Express was no small feat. But keeping it simple helped. “We took the approach that we wanted to get all employees motivated and active,” said Gretchen Murphy, the data center management company’s human resources professional who’s worked with management and employees to come up with a unique blend of initiatives. “We have some very competitive employees,” notes Murphy, with a hint of a smile in her voice. “We’ve found being able to compete, not only as individuals but on the team level, has helped to get and keep people active.” One of the key drivers was to make those initiatives regular. “We try to do something on a quarterly basis,” notes Murphy. From variations on the “Biggest Loser” TV show to a Monopoly-themed board game to a “Bucket List” of activities, with employees asked to send in photographs that could be shared, the energy around the wellness programs at Service Express are clearly evident. Murphy says while the company isn’t yet formally measuring the effect the initiatives are having on the firm’s bottom line, morale is clearly up. “And the rate of employee participation, which continues to rise, is a measurement in itself.”


This precision computerized numeric controlled (CNC) business has invested in a health wellness test for employees, hiring Wellco Corp.’s Scott Foster to educate TapeMaster employees on five fatal factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, blood sugar and smoking. TapeMaster CEO David F. Galli acknowledges that a tough economy has taken its toll on everyone at TapeMaster. “Teaming up with Scott Foster has only solidified our passion on life,” says Galli, who says his management team intends to lead by example. Looking ahead, the company is working with its health carrier to absorb the cost of flu shots and says it will continue working with employees on ways to improve their health and wellness.


When Walbridge moved its headquarters several years ago, it used the opportunity to make a difference in the ability of its staff to improve their lifestyle in a way that made sense from a wellness perspective. Says CEO John Rakolta Jr., “We realized we had an opportunity to make an impact. We chose the location for the abundance of activities and restaurants, with many healthy eating options, within walking distance. We also located our offices on the lower floors to encourage frequent use of stairs and placed lunchrooms on each level to make it easier to bring a lunch.” The new facility includes cubicles equipped with personal lockers and the building features showers and locker rooms that make it convenient for employees who want to exercise during the day. The response of employees has magnified that lifestyle change opportunity, with the springing up of lunchtime walking clubs and, yes, the use of stairs more frequently. “We make the same effort at promoting wellness that we must each make every day to remain healthy,” adds Rakolta, referring in part to a monthly wellness newsletter and even professionally taught stretching exercises designed to increase mobility and combat the effects of repetitive motion.

Wigs for Kids

St. Clair Shores
It’s hard enough when kids get cancer and find themselves fighting, quite literally, for their lives. But in some cases, the resulting hair loss makes the experience even more emotional. That’s where Wigs 4 Kids comes in, its charitable mission being to provide support in the form of a wig and support services. CEO Maggie Varney, who founded the organization, says every team member is engaged in that mission, knowing they’re making a difference in the life of each child or teen served. Flexible hours and a willingness to accommodate the needs of employees is one way Wigs 4 Kids adds to a sense of wellbeing. “When our employees have the opportunity of enjoying more free time, they are more likely to take better care of their health,” notes Varney, who adds that the mission of wellness goes deep to the heart of the organization. “We encourage healthy eating and provide healthy snack choices at our facility for break and meal times and we embrace a lifestyle where fitness is important as well.” Located in a building that features environmentally friendly bamboo flooring and non-toxic paint on the walls, Wigs 4 Kids offers natural product lines. But the focus is, truly, on the wellness of the team, guests, and most of all, on the children and teens that are served.