Health e-News
March 2015


Is there room for improvement in your wellness efforts? This month we're featuring some tips from occupational health physician Dr. Brian Harrison on how to achieve a culture of wellness in your organization. It's a great read for every employer interested in improving employee health and productivity.


Also in this edition, look for articles on how you can support your wellness efforts with exercise on the job, healthier vending machine options, and training new managers for success. And as we watch for those first signs of spring, read about ways to save money by going green.


Please share this month's edition with your employees. A version designed just for them is available at:  


To your good health,   


Patti Groholski

Executive Director, Employer Solutions

Create a Cultural Change of Wellness

By Brian Harrison, MD


Want to achieve a cultural change toward wellness in the workplace? It can be done--in the same way you've achieved a culture of safety. Many of you have already accomplished that in your workplace. Employees understand a culture of safety, which they see all around them at work. They know it comes from the top down, which is reflected by values in the workplace ("Safety first!") and for which there are many visible artifacts (personal protective equipment, emergency stop buttons on machines, eye wash stations, etc).

Like safety, a culture of wellness is reflected in visual artifacts. Posters, healthy food choices in vending machines, a visibly smoke-free workplace, and stair wells that are decorated in a way to be inviting and welcoming are all visual examples of a culture of wellness.

Wellness Is for Everyone
Just like your culture of safety, you need a visible culture of wellness in order to give your program the "reach" that it needs. A wellness program that only focuses on people who are already sick or already at high risk is too narrow. While it's true that these employees require the costliest health care, there are few of them compared to the many more employees you have who are well and need to stay that way. That's the same concept as in safety; you would never only focus on the few people who have already had an accident. And you would not focus only on "damage control" for recovery from the accident. Instead, all employers nowadays are safety "pro-activists." They create systems, as fool-proof as possible, which are preventive and which apply to everyone.

Like a culture of safety, a cultural system of wellness applies to everybody. All employees come to understand that it is a key company value, which comes as a top-down directed priority from upper level management. For example, Dow Corporation put up posters to express its health commitment to its employees and customers. It showed a snapshot of each of the board members of this Fortune 100 international company. The poster carried a message of upper management's commitment to a well workplace, and the signature of each board member, indicating their personal engagement in this wellness program, and its core values (open communication, high energy, and caring about health). Consider doing that where you work.

Promote and Reward
Like safety, an organizational culture of wellness can be enriched by rites and rituals. The recognition awards and safety campaigns and competitions that many companies have can be adopted to promote wellness. Acknowledging employees who achieve 10,000 step-per-day milestones, private "recognition" by payment of incentive rewards, and the ritual of an annual health risk appraisal are good examples. Besides individual recognition, celebrating the achievements of high-performing divisions or departments is a smart way to build a culture of wellness. Dow Corporation gives each of its divisions a "Healthy Workplace Assessment" just like each individual gets a "Health Risk Appraisal." The divisions are recognized as gold, silver or bronze award winners, depending upon how well they live the company's wellness commitment. Criteria include adherence to smoke-free workplace policy, access to physical activity, healthy food choice options in the department including vending machines and at meetings, ongoing workplace environment safety and health improvement score, HRA participation rate, a workplace stress score, and employee opinion survey scores regarding the healthiness of the work environment.

Find Your Champions
Just like a culture of safety, a culture of wellness has its heroes. Many companies recognize employees who retire with two or three decades of accident-free work history. For example, there was a former Green Bay Packer quarterback who was known for 17 years without a lost-time accident (though many people around here now have trouble remembering his name!). In a culture of wellness, such heroes are Tobacco Free Heroes, "Biggest Loser" weight loss winners, and employees who can tell their stories about how they discovered and dealt with risks they first learned of from the health risk appraisal. Such storytelling especially of unique experiences, which circulate in a "cultural network" such as your wellness and safety newsletter, build an organizational culture of wellness.

Generate Buzz
You will know you have reached your cultural goal by the way employees talk, act, and what they consider is "the right way to get things done around here." Monday morning stories about how "I spent the weekend in my La-Z-Boy watching football and drinking beer" will be replaced by "my kids and I went for a bike ride then we had a healthy dinner." Each employee is a valued member of the organization, and everyone's life is different, but through a culture of wellness, each one can find their own healthy patterns, which let them build and celebrate a lifestyle that becomes increasingly vigorous and enjoyable.

Invest in Prevention
Finally, recall how often you've heard "Safety Is Free!" The truth of that slogan is obvious when the low cost of safety is compared to the unsustainable cost of failing to be safe. Likewise, "Wellness Is Free!" compared to the prohibitive cost of being unwell. To employers, those costs are medical, pharmaceutical, absenteeism and presenteeism. Like safety, wellness is ineffective and expensive if only done reactively. Safety interventions that are done only after workplace accidents are poor investments compared with proactive ones. So too are wellness interventions that focus only on employees who already have chronic diseases or high risks. "Investment Grade Wellness" refers to low cost, wide scope, high yield, proven strategies to help your company be a healthy work organization. These aren't easily done, but they aren't expensive. They aren't quick, but they are timely. They aren't possible in a "one man (or woman) show," but they are of benefit to every member of the organization. If that reminds you of safety, it should. Imagine how your culture of safety can become a culture of safety and health. Then it's better than free; it's an investment you can't do without.

smiling_factory_supervisor.jpg Coaching New Managers

Joe was a shining star. From the day he walked through the doors, his brilliant ideas and fierce enthusiasm for the job helped boost the bottom line and won your executive hearts. Naturally, you decide to reward him by promoting him to manager. Surely he'll take the company to new heights. But soon his team is in an uproar. Joe doesn't have a clue how to communicate, they tell you. He tries to take over everything and doesn't let us do our jobs, they say. We have no direction and no clear goals, they grumble.


Sound familiar?


"Often people are promoted because they're good at managing their jobs, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're good at managing people," says Patrick Hauer, Affinity EAP counselor.


So what's a company to do? Try these five tips for coaching new managers.


Different does not mean wrong. "There are many ways to approach a job, and just because someone does it differently doesn't make it wrong," Hauer says. Diversity in how team members think and perform can actually be an advantage. Conduct a work style assessment on the whole team, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or DiSC profile. Teach new managers to direct each person's strengths toward the goal.


Turn the tables. Remember when you worked for the boss? For many new managers, it wasn't that long ago. "Success has a tendency to shorten our memories," says Hauer. "Encourage new managers to consider the qualities they admired or disliked in their supervisor when they were in their staff's shoes. Then advise them to be the boss they really wanted."


Be a role model. Pair up new managers with an experienced manager in the organization who can serve as a mentor. Learning from another person's mistakes can help prevent mishaps.


Fill their tool box. Make sure new managers are trained in all administrative and leadership responsibilities of the job. Whether it's how to utilize employee rewards programs, guidelines for conducting performance reviews, or the right way to file HR paperwork, set them up for success by giving them the tools they need.


Back off. Just like employees need space to do their jobs well, managers also need some freedom to find their groove. Give them guidance, then step back and support them as they learn, shine, and occasionally stumble. "The leap from team member to manager may be one of the biggest changes in a person's career," says Hauer. "A little grace goes a long way when training the next generation of leaders."

Get More Exercise on the Job


Got your bottom glued to the chair? Inactivity can lead to headaches, back aches and brain drain. If your job requires long hours of sitting, try these tips for adding a boost of fitness to your day:

  • Set an alarm every hour reminding you to get up and move around. Just standing up, stretching and waving your arms will help you feel more alert.
  • Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. They're great for toning the abs and improving posture.
  • Use the restroom on a different floor or across the building. Extra steps add up.
  • Deliver documents in person instead of by inter-office mail.
  • Lift dumbbells while on the phone. Water bottles or soup cans work just as well.
  • Going out for lunch? Choose a restaurant within walking distance, or go to the mall food court and park furthest from the door.
  • Walking clubs aren't just for lunch hours. Why not arrive 20 minutes early and start the day with a brisk stroll?
  • Suggest standing or walking meetings. Be creative! Any extra movement is a bonus.
Give Your Vending Machine a Makeover


It's 3 p.m. Lunch was hours ago, and dinner is far from sight. You're hungry, so you scrounge for spare change and take a walk to the vending machine. But what awaits you behind the glass? Candy bars? Chips? Donuts? If your workplace is guilty of purveying high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks, it's time for a vending machine makeover.


One of the simplest things an employer can do to help promote wellness at work is to offer healthy snack options. Here are some tips:

  • Know your organization. Many people will appreciate having smart choices, but not all employees want to trade their Milky Way for a carton of yogurt. Begin by stocking your machine with 50 percent healthy options and test the response. You can modify offerings depending on which items sell best.
  • For snacks, opt for items containing no more than 5 grams of fat and 30 grams of carbohydrates. (Nuts and seeds are exempt from these restrictions due to their heart-health benefits.) Great choices include non-frosted animal crackers, trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, beef jerky and fat-free popcorn.
  • Low-fat milk, water and 100-percent fruit or vegetable juices are best. Aim for beverages with less than 50 calories per 12 oz. serving. Be sure to drink water while enjoying your snack. It's not just healthy for you, but it makes you feel fuller, too.
  • Be positive and non-judgmental. You're offering options, not acting as the snack police.
money_grass.jpg Keep Your Green by Going Green


Looking to save a few bucks? Want to be good to the environment? Do both! Here are some tips for saving the earth and your pocket change, too.


At Work

  • Carpool. Sharing rides can cut gas expenses and carbon dioxide emissions. Even if you can't carpool to and from work, try riding with colleagues to mid-day meetings or lunch appointments.While you're at it, obey the speed limit. You'll save money on gas, not to mention speeding fines.
  • Print on both sides. Or print your drafts on used sheets to cut paper costs in half.
  • Optimize computer settings. Only 10 percent of desktop owners bother to take this simple step. By optimizing the energy settings on your computer and shutting down when the computer is not in use, you can reduce PC energy use by 50 percent.
  • Meet by phone. Spare travel expenses and vehicle pollution by scheduling meetings over the phone or video conference.
  • BYO dishes. Rather than buying bottled water and brown bags, pack your H20 and daily lunch in a reusable water bottle and lunch bag. Landfills and grocery bills will thank you.

At Home

  • Turn off the lights. Save on utilities by flipping switches when you leave a room, washing laundry in cold instead of hot water, and unplugging idle appliances.
  • Grow your own food. Homegrown vegetable gardens are cheap, healthy and surprisingly easy to maintain. Don't have your own yard for digging? Team up with landowner friends, offering to plant and weed in exchange for a portion of the harvest.
  • Your grandma was right. Vinegar and baking soda really can clean just about anything. Forego expensive cleaners for the dirt-cheap, all-natural kind. And enjoy the spring sunshine by hanging your clothes to dry outside.
  • Choose rechargeable batteries. They'll release fewer toxins than the conventional kind and spare our landfills the extra junk, while requiring fewer trips to the store for replacements.
  • Buy consignment. If hand-me-downs are good enough for the kids, they're good enough for you. Many consignment stores offer barely-worn, top quality professional clothing for a fraction of the price. It saves textile resources, too.
  • Freecycle. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Check out for local listings of used items - anything from furniture to clothing to tools to toys, you name it - all up for grabs without paying a penny. Freecycling lightens our landfills and pads your wallet.


grapes.jpg Breakfast With the Experts

Work Related Injury Care & Prevention from an Occupational Health Doctor's Perspective

Presented by Randal Wojciehoski, DPM, DO

Wednesday, March 11

7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah

Join Dr. Wojciehoski for a presentation of prevention and care of work-related injury. Highlights of his presentation include:

  • Evidence-based treatment of back pain
  • How prompt treatment can impact injury
  • Utilizing ER with after-hours injury

Dr. Randal Wojciehoski is an emergency physician with Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital in Stevens Point and serves as medical director for several departments within Ministry Health Care, including Occupational Medicine, Employee Health and Cardiac Rehab.

He also serves as the medical director for Harley Davidson in Milwaukee, Encore Unlimited, LLC, and Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection and is the president of Medical Topics Unlimited, LLC. He is a nationally-acclaimed speaker and medical legal consultant, and has authored or coauthored a wide variety of articles in the field of Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Wojciehoski is the recipient of ten honors and awards, including the American Heart Association Good Samaritan Award, Wisconsin Hospital Association Employee Pride Award and the Ministry Health Care Circle of Excellence Award.


To register for this free seminar, please contact Jill Hernandez at

Contact Employer Solutions

To contact an Employer Solutions sales associate, call our office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail,,, or