By Thomas Skernivitz, CBC Editor
“We have all kinds of measurements from a wellness standpoint, but the bottom line is showing up at work,” Dave S. Mansfield, the vice president of employee benefits at Sherwin Williams, said. “People come to work every day — that’s a big deal for us, not only for productivity for our work but productivity for your family.”
Mansfield and three other executives representing prominent Cleveland companies discussed corporate wellness Wednesday afternoon before 150 attendees of the Amplify Speaker Series. Contempo Communications and University Hospitals sponsored the luncheon at the Metropolitan at The 9 hotel downtown.
Employees are more apt to arrive at work every day, Mansfield said, when they excel at four aspects of wellness — financial, physical, emotional, and social/community.
“You always think about health wellness, but if you’re financially poor and can’t make ends meet, you’re probably not eating well, probably stressed to a very high degree, and not exercising right,” Mansfield said. “We don’t want to forget about the financial side. It drives everything. When we think about lifetime of good health, it’s not good physical health, but it’s good holistic health.”
Physical wellness is an essential ingredient nonetheless, Mansfield said. He stressed the positive effect that annual physicals and preventive screenings have had at Sherwin Williams.
“I can’t tell you how many employees — and these (programs) are free from our employees’ standpoint — go and have a physical and find out they have high blood pressure or find out they have a cholesterol problem. And they find out that they have an opportunity to fix it before it becomes chronic. It’s a big deal, going and getting preventive screenings.”
In regard to emotional wellness, Mansfield lauded UH’s SMART (Stress Management and Resilience Training) Program, which teaches individuals how to be smarter about their approach to stress in their lives.
“UH comes in (to Sherwin Williams) and does the program three or four times a year over eight-week sessions to reduce stress,” he said. “They have better tools for coping with stress and have better tools of supporting themselves and their families from things that affect all of us.”
On the social level, “we always encourage employees to be part of a broader network and support local communities,” Mansfield said. “But I also suggest that if you’re not supporting your family and being family-oriented first, then this whole thing about community is kind of lost. I’d rather see you walk around in the neighborhood with your dog and meet your neighbors than get involved with things, and you can’t manage other things in your life, including your family.”
Fairmount Santrol started focusing on health and wellness in 2002. Since then the company has implemented a formal program that included a 2014 initiative in which the health environment at each of its worksites was analyzed.
“We’ve had a lot of success with our wellness program,” Daniel Schmidt, director of benefits and risks at Fairmount Santrol, said. “We’re really excited about it.”
However, since the company put the program in place, it has not seen a decrease in claims costs, Schmidt said.
“We’ve looked at this a couple of different ways. We tried to back out healthcare inflation. We’ve analyzed it vs. our health risk assessment and claims costs for those participants. We’ve struggled to try to find a way that proves financially that this is a great idea,” Schmidt said.
“In 2016 what we’re doing is that we realized we can’t continue to do things … that have gotten the wellness team to be good and hope to one day be great. We’re going to have to do things differently going forward … We want to move more toward a population health maintenance strategy in respect to wellness.”
Fairmount reviewed its annual claims costs and largest drivers. At the top of the list every year has been cardiovascular disease. In turn, the company is going to take identified claims data and have a group within its wellness team analyze that data to determine how it can reduce the cost on cardiovascular disease.
“By doing that, we’ll create specific programs that target populations that are at risk,” Schmidt said, citing diabetics as an example.
“We know that a non-compliant diabetic on average will cost a plan approximately $11,000 a year. That’s a stunning number, isn’t it? Schmidt said. “So we take a look at it. Why is that so high? We realized that 73,000 diabetics last year needed to have some portion of their leg amputated, and that cost approximately $70,000. Not to mention the fact that we now have somebody that needs a prosthetic, and we need to adapt the worksite for them, so the costs continue to go up.”
Which raised several questions: How could Fairmount get this population to be compliant diabetics? What are the obstacles for non-compliant diabetics? Are they copays for doctor’s visits and drugs?
“If that’s the case, one of the things that we’ll look to do is create a program that says, ‘Hey, if you go and get your hemoglobin A1c test and your lipid test and your foot exam and eye exam every single year, we’ll waive all of those office visit copays. And if you stay compliant with your medication and adhere to that, we’ll waive those charges as well. So it will be completely free for you to manage that,” Schmidt said.
“This is going to be a new addition to our wellness plan that is hopefully going to take us to the next level.”
Other speakers included Gordon Harman, the vice president of global benefits at Eaton,and Thomas Snowberger, the chief human resources officer at UH. Harman said his company, which is comprised of 100,000 employees across the world, has paid particular attention to corporate wellness since developing an integrated program in 2009. As part of that program, Eaton has focused on five core principals across each of its businesses: