Lean means green

Posted on Nov 9, 2015 :: Back Office Operations
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

The workforce doesn’t work as well when it’s not healthy.

Whether it’s an illness, overall health and fitness or personal challenges, production suffers when the employees on the floor aren’t at their best. Without tools to help in place, manufacturers risk losing both growth opportunities and high-
quality employees.

To keep the workforce healthy and humming along, manufacturers in Northeast Wisconsin are launching and ramping up their wellness programs. Whether it’s onsite centers where employees can get in a good workout or onsite clinics to help with illnesses and minor medical problems, manufacturers know they can only succeed with a healthy workforce.

For Miller Electric, its onsite ThedaCare clinic has been a resource for employees for the past 10 years. Besides a nurse or a health coach, the center features an onsite doctor who
is available four hours each week.

Linda Pintar, benefits manager for Miller Electric, says having a doctor on site helps employees address multiple concerns.

“Our doctor sees primarily work-related issues like occupational concerns,” Pintar says. “But if he has openings, he will see other patients for other health concerns as well.”

Miller Electric’s parent company, Illinois Tool Works, also provides a wellness program which Miller supports, and for the employees, the rewards of participating can make for some nice perks.

“If employees do health risk assessments, they get a reduction in their health premium,” Pintar says. “They are also entered into drawings where they can win $5,000 in travel vouchers, free premiums for a year, and gift cards that relate to wellness.”

Menasha Corp. recently received a Gold Level Well Workplace designation from The Wellness Council of America for its worksite wellness initiatives.

Even though it does not have an onsite wellness center, Menasha Corp. found another way to help employees get active and healthy — assisting with membership costs for gyms and health programs.

“Our initiative is to get people engaged in their health and wellness,” says Rick Fantini, vice president of human resources for Menasha Corp. “We want to give people the opportunity and encourage them to join a health club or a gym, so we pay 50 percent of their membership, up
to $250.”

Recently, Galloway Company opened an onsite health clinic, called Gallo-Care. The clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner from ThedaCare. Organizers say it’s a great feature to offer staff and families.

“We believe providing an environment that supports and encourages overall improvement in lifestyle for our employees and their families benefits everyone with better physical and emotional health,” says Amie Strange, human resource manager/wellness champion for Galloway. “This then leads to increased individual productivity, decreased health care costs and a stronger community as we strive for common goals.”

Impact on small companies

It might make sense to have clinics and wellness centers available for employees of larger companies, like Miller Electric and Menasha Corp. But these initiatives are not just limited to big companies. Smaller businesses are starting their own programs and clinics for employees to use.

Mary Felton, an independent HR consultant, has worked with companies such as Miller Electric and Tidi Products to help launch health and wellness programs.

Felton currently works with Health Payment Systems in Milwaukee, a company with 70 employees, which implemented an onsite health care clinic. A nurse practitioner and health coach are each on site two hours per week, and the company is saving money thanks to its new program, Felton says.

“For every dollar we invest, we are getting $2.78 back in return,” Felton says. “We were able to reduce our health care costs by 23 percent, which goes to show you don’t need hundreds of employees to make a program like this work.”

When companies are thinking about adding wellness programs for their employees, there are certain details that need to be addressed before unveiling a plan.

“Employers who are in the infancy stages of a healthy lifestyle and wellness initiatives need to know that achieving and maintaining healthy lifestyles is a journey, not a destination,” Strange says. “An employer needs to understand their employees and what they value in health and wellness.”


Healthy lifestyle coaching

Besides diagnosing a cold or other illness, nurses can also act as a health coach for those looking to change their lifestyle. Whether creating  an exercise routine or developing a healthier diet, some companies offer these services as part of their wellness programs. As Felton describes, a health coach goes beyond educating employees about a healthy lifestyle.

“Many health coaches are trained in behavioral modification, so they know how to work with individuals to help modify their behavior so they can be healthier,” Felton says.

It’s no secret that the work you put into keeping your employees happy and healthy, will in turn, affect the employee’s overall work ethic. Miller Electric continues to stay true
to this model.

“We understand that a healthy workforce is happier and more productive,” Pintar says. “We really believe programs like this are making a difference for our employees, and they in turn are taking this back to their families as well.”

Wellness Savings at Miller Electric

  • Over this past year, 87 percent of Miller Electric’s workforce participated in the voluntary HRAs
  • Over the past four years, 4.8 percent of Miller Electric’s workforce has moved out of the high-risk category
  • Lifestyle scores increased by 3 percent
  • Miller Electric is saving $3.50 for every dollar spent