SUPPORT NOTES FOR: (RE) START YOUR CORPORATE WELLNESS PROGRAM
For more on the Hewitt survey and big company trends for offering wellness incentives see the document at this URL: http://www.benefitnews.com/subscriber/Article.cfm?id=37880855. For more on the actual effectiveness of cessation programs, go to google and type in – cessation + incentives + smoking – to find an array of reports with different reporting biases.
For more news and views on the Bush Administration’s efforts to create an "ownership society" through HSAs – for which pending legislation would provide additional tax credits for contributions made by both small businesses and lowest income people – go to google and search for: "ownership society" + HSAs.
For the long-term trend story on how health care costs are concentrated in the sick few, see this document: http://www.cop.ufl.edu/departments/phca/PAFooteWebsite/PDFs/concentration.pdf.
Weyco, a heath care company in Michigan, recently made the national news because they fired four people for smoking off-the-job. In 28 states and Washington, D.C., there are laws that protect smokers. But, in the rest of the states, companies can fire them for smoking off the job because it adds to health insurance costs. Weyco CEO, Howard Weyer, gave employees incentives and more than a year to quit because health care costs threatened to choke his business. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a smoker will cost a company on average $3,400 more in loss productivity and health care costs every year. If you are in a state that allows a company to fire smokers and all of your smokers are marginal producers, then you can give them fair warning, give them nicotine tests and fire them even if they refuse to take the test. At Weyco, employees who refused to show for the test were also fired. As more companies screen aggressively for smokers, could those companies that don’t be hiring closet smokers not realizing the long-term employment costs of hiring them?
ON "HEALTHY HYDRATION" AND PEDOMETERS. 70% of our total body weight is water. The brain is 85% water, the blood stream about 92%, etc. Why drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day between meals? Here are my personal conclusions: A) First, drink as little water as necessary for 30 minutes before a meal, through the meal and for 30+ minutes after a meal to allow the stomach to create a sufficient, but least amount of hydrochloric acid as possible to break down the food. If we drink a lot of water with a meal, then the body has to create a lot more acid to offset the water dilution and usually not successfully. We then will have incomplete digestion problems, and the extra acid ultimately has to be converted to an alkaline level in the small intestine and blood stream. B) Between meals, however, we should drink a lot of water to fully hydrate the body and help to flush out all of the intracellular waste that comes from cellular energy production, including the addictive toxins from caffeine, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, sugar, etc. Once we have been well hydrated for a few days, it is much easier to cut addictive consumables in a measured, gradual manner. (I cut coffee consumption in half after one week, in half again after the second week and then stopped all together the third week.) C) We should ideally drink "healthy" water. After extensive research, I have concluded that ionized water made within 24 hours is the best way to go for many reasons. For a short promotional pitch on the features and benefits of ionized water, you can read Bob McCauley’s promotional article at this URL. http://www.watershed.net/Ionized_water_Article.pdf
At Bob’s site you can also buy what I determined was the best-value, best-priced, water ionization machine, the Jupiter Technos. Put one of these machines at the employee break room sink and appoint a true believer, healthy hydration captain and see what happens! Every employee can at least drink more water and feel better for doing so very quickly. Bob is a "quasi-partner", because after I went to Lansing to visit with him and check out his distribution business, he agreed to give FOBs (friends of Bruce) $10 off on any machine that they buy and then give me a free bottle of one of the nutriceuticals that I buy from him J .
ON PEDOMETERS: Put this sign up at your company somewhere: "An apple AND a 10K per day will keep the doctor away!" 10K refers to 10,000 steps which is just short of a 5 mile, 1 hour walk for the average adult. 30 minutes of walking per day is the minimum exercise needed for maintaining health per the new government guidelines, but if you want to lose weight, then it may have to be 10K+/day. Good pedometers cost between $30 to $50 apiece, although you can buy them for less in bulk with your company logo on them. My assistant, Karen Green, is currently testing 4 models out of the top 10 that she identified on line. At some point, we will post Karen’s consumer guide conclusions. Any company can buy a few and lend them out to whomever might like to experiment with them, then start a walking challenge. See more on this in note #6.
Most health contests do not have to have big rewards. In one case that I read, the CEO of a firm with about 30 employees announced that he needed to go on a diet. His doctor had said during a recent check up that his weight had risen over the official "obesity" line. His self-image of carrying a "few extra pounds" was shot. He announced to his company that he wanted to lose 50 pounds within six months and that he couldn’t really do it without their help and hopefully some fellow participants. He put two charts on the wall. One had voluntary, optional entries for – starting weight, current weight (weekly entry spaces over 6 months) and net weight lost to date. The second chart had daily check-mark spaces for "did I do the minimal equivalent of walking for 30 minutes on that day." This changed to 30-minute-exercise "equivalents", because sometimes he was burning 500+ calories per workout at the gym and other days he would get in 3, 10-to-15 minute walks in a day: before work, during lunch hour and after work. His goal was to see how many and how long his days-in-a-row-streaks could be. His challenge to the others was this: if anyone else can lose whatever weight that they would like to during the "contest", he would treat them all to a "healthy lunch" at a nearby salad bar restaurant. 10 people signed up, and they all lost significant weight to win the lunch. During the contest, the 10 became a "committee" that evolved an on-going wellness program that had no big monetary outlays, but rather a big emphasis on maximizing personal contributions and participation.
How could you tune your company contributions to employee HSAs to attract and keep healthy, self-responsible, save-and-invest, long-term-thinking employees while dissuading unhealthy employees from starting to work for you or, if they are already on the payroll, leaving for another employer’s traditional health insurance plan? The math scenarios are a bit too complicated to detail here, but just assume that the healthy employee would get about $1000 or more per year of extra, tax-free, savings contributions from the company. But, the average, heavy-benefit user employee group might have another $500+ of annual out-of-pocket expenses before the insurance coverage would kick in. One group is getting a big, total compensation raise while the other is getting a pay cut. In an interview, a prospective employee may be a big health benefit user, but perhaps we can not legally know that before offering them a job. When we explain our insurance plan, however, big-user prospects can do the math and find out that they would be taking a compensation hit each year. They would hopefully decline our job offer and go find an employer that hadn’t yet figured out how to stop the cross-subsidies that have been going on between low benefit users to the high benefit users.
THE KINETIC CHAIN AS AN IMPLEMENTATION CHECKLIST. My "kinetic chain" is sprinkled all around our web site at www.merrifield.com. The first best place to read about it is under the "exhibits", #16, here’s the direct link: http://www.merrifield.com/exhibits/Kinetic_Chain_Ex_16.pdf
It is also written up in article form under "articles" (#2.1) "Achieving Sustainable Profit Power". And, it is covered in module # 5.10 of our video, "High Performance Distribution Ideas for All".
SPECIFIC CWP IDEAS. First, assess what types of unhealthful consumables are on the premise. Carbonated sodas are death. High-fructose sugar drinks have lots of calories and cause blood sugar rushes which causes insulin to kick in to take the extra blood sugar, store it as fat and then prohibit the burning of normal body fat when blood sugar drops along with brain effectiveness and body basal metabolism. The acid in a soft drink (pH 2.5) requires 32 equivalent cans of tap water to average the pH out to the blood stream’s average pH of 7.4. The chemicals in soft drinks stop the mouth’s continual rebuilding process of teeth for 8 hours. Either take out the sugar drink vending machines or put in a water ionization machine with a "healthy water" campaign. Or, crank the prices of the sugar/acid drinks and all sugar/natural preservative snacks as high as possible to cross-subsidize fresh apples and oranges for free in a bowl or for 25 cents a vending machine.
Once you decide what the best value pedometers are, consider buying some as loaners that employees can eventually win as their own if they log so many steps for so many days. The "10K per day" idea is getting good publicity by the US Health and Human Services department. The director has lost weight on the program and is checking people’s pedometer counts for the day. Once bad food is out and good food and water is in, then consider a "President’s Challenge" as described in note #6 above. You can also go to www.presidentschallenge.org to get ideas for setting up a CWP from President Bush.
The "challenge" does not just have to be about weight reduction goals. Some people might want to hit exercise goals; bad consumable cut-backs or as many days in a row as possible for healthy hydration. Whatever anyone can conceive and believe is possible and desirable for them. Let everyone set their own goal on their own timetable. But, keep thinking of clever ways to measure and promote how the entire company is progressing ("the team lost 48 pounds last week, our total weight is now about 7210 pounds", or "we walked 650,000 extra steps last week above our normal sedentary base;" or "our daily sales of sodas has dropped 32% from its original average level," etc).
Start doing small doses of wellness education by seeing who has ideas, theories, recipes, etc. to contribute. I would suggest that the company buy a couple of copies of the award-winning documentary "SuperSize" me. You might have a few employee showings and discussions on a volunteer basis with healthy, brown bag lunches. The video is 100 minutes long so it may have to be broken into two or three sessions. But, then let employees take it home to share with their families if they like. My 12 and 16-year old kids watched it; were blown away; and both watched it 2 more times with friends. They both gave up sugar water drinks completely, and we haven’t been to any fast food restaurant since the multiple viewings. Their health awareness ratcheted up three notches.
All of your CWP activities, metrics, new personal bests, health tips could be summarized in a periodic newsletter if you can find a volunteer editor and a simple reporting system.
After getting everyone, more-or-less, health conscious, you might consider investing in an on-site screening service for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. if the committee thinks that the cost/benefit and timing are right.
Want more ideas? Have questions or problems? Just contact me.
When we consider wellness "intervention" tactics that we might try, it is important to frame them as cheap, co-created experiments that are open for revision or replacement. Wellness solutions are highly personal affairs. Think about the statistics that major drugs only work in the near-term for about 50% of the human gene pool. The other half respond less to the purported benefits and more to the side effects, so that other alternative drugs/remedies have to be tried. Diets and exercise regimes are similar. So, flexibility in program design is a must. If you would like some "learning-how-to-learn" terms and tools, you might want to check out "the wheel of learning" and "making lots of cheap, smart, fast mistakes to fail forward" on our web site at this URL: http://www.merrifield.com/exhibits/Make_Lots_of_Good_Cheap_Mistakes.pdf.
Support Notes for Article 5.16 - (Re) Start Your Corporate Wellness Program
Link back to Article 5.16: http://www.merrifield.com/articles/5_16.asp".