Worksite wellness yields big gains for one employer

March 7, 2019

In 2009 when the economy was “in the tank,” Ancon Construction’s CEO John Place started looking at their finances to see where the company could save money. 

“Health care was our biggest cost,” he said. “We chose Get Fit Get Healthy, a worksite wellness program. We offered fitness challenges to get our employees to participate. The group that didn’t participate were in the poorest health. But by offering financial incentives, we got participation in the wellness program up to one hundred percent.”

To support employees, Place removed the pop machine from the office, made their worksite (including trailers at construction sites) tobacco free and asked vendors to quit bringing in donuts and other unhealthy snacks. Get Fit Get Healthy (GFGH) provided individual and quarterly coaching to help employees reach their wellness goals.

The results? Health premiums have gone up only marginally, from $157,600 in 2010 to $164,000 in 2018. And, claims, which were $338,000 in 2010 came in at $260,280 last year.

“We have healthier and more productive employees, fewer employees who smoke and we’ve kept our prescription drug costs down,” said Place. “Everyone benefits financially because the employees have stock in the company – and there have been no increases in their health premiums.” 

John Place shared this story at Get Fit Get Healthy’s annual Champion of Wellness banquet, where employees and employers are nominated for awards based on their progress at embracing a healthier lifestyle or creating a healthier workplace.

This year 14 employers and a record 120 employees were nominated for awards. Individuals distinguished themselves by changing their eating habits, exercising more and even inspiring others. Many had lost weight or lowered their critical numbers – cholesterol, blood pressure and A1C. Many commented on how much better they felt, how much more energy they had and how they had learned to forgive themselves when they slipped up.      

All nominees were invited to the banquet, held February 19 at the Bread & Chocolate Ballroom of the Bag Factory, Goshen.

Employees who took home awards were 

  • Greg and Julie Baumgartner, Jayco, for the Most Improved. Together, this couple made drastic lifestyle changes, improving their weight, glucose, triglycerides and blood pressure levels. 
  • Patty Nowlin, Midwest Energy & Communications, for Champion of Inspiration. Nowlin spent the year rediscovering herself and becoming holistically stronger through reading, journaling, praying and focusing on joy. 
  • Chantell Manhan, MSD of Steuben County, for First Runner Up. Manhan is a busy mom who made a commitment to be a healthy role model for her sons by eating a balanced diet and increasing her exercise.   
  • Michelle Smith, Wieland Designs, for First Place. She consistently encourages and motivates others while leading by example with healthy eating habits and exercise. She completed two marathons, two triathlons, over 20 mini-marathons, a Tough Mudder and a Spartan race.  

ABRO Industries won the award for the healthiest small employer; Wieland Designs won for the healthiest large employer; and Entech, Inc., won the Wellness Warrior Award. All have wellness committees that meet regularly to provide incentives, challenges and education to their employees. 

The GFGH wellness program is part of Business Health Advantage, offered under Goshen Health to help impact the health of the community.

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Michelle Smith (center), Wieland Designs, earns first place as a Champion of Wellness. Also pictured left to right are Get Fit Get Healthy’s Kristin Hicks, Kaylin Harkins, Samantha Claeys-Smith and Joel Conrad.

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On behalf of Entech, Inc., Middlebury, Emily Fitt and Jennifer Willey (2nd and 3rd from left), accept the Wellness Warrior Award. Also shown are Get Fit Get Healthy’s Linda Allen, Kristin Hicks and Joel Conrad.