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Why WellCert? The Journey of a CWPM

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Why WellCert? The Wellness Journey of Leslee McGovern, MS, RD, LDN, CWPM

I came to Worksite Wellness through nutrition. Early in my career as a registered dietitian, I held traditional clinical roles where I cared for patients who were experiencing the results of years of poor health habits. I knew then, I wanted to reach people before they were at this stage. I also wanted to reach a bigger broader audience about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. After going back to school for a master’s in nutrition and communications, I promoted the health benefits of food through foodservice marketing and public relations. In my position at a  foodservice contract management firm truly brought me to worksite wellness. There I developed corporate nutrition and dining programs for large corporations. I helped these organizations think strategically about the food environment at work and how to make it health promoting for their employees. In meeting with company wellness directors and their committees I also saw the bigger picture and I knew I wanted to be involved in the bigger picture. I wanted to help organizations develop strategic plans for employee wellness.

Here in Massachusetts, we know that only a small percentage of organizations have them. I wanted to help change that. My first step was to pursue the Level One Wellcert Program from the Chapman Institute. I learned about the basic skills required to design and implement a comprehensive and effective worksite wellness program. Now I could see the whole picture and take what I learned to help client organizations build their comprehensive plans. Next I signed up for Wellcert Level Two because there is always more to learn!  This level provided additional training on critical skills necessary a full time wellness program manager in larger more complex organizations. This training is vital to my work and I’m eager to take the next level. By participating in the onsite training, you gain knowledge and the opportunity to benefit from Larry Chapman’s 35 years of experience. 


Tags:  WellCert Certification  wellness  worksite wellness 

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The Power Of Great Leaders: The Chapman Effect

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why WellCert? A Letter From Philip Swayze, CWPD, HUB International

Since 2010 I have chaired the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Leadership Awards program.  The people I’ve met through this process and my 19 years in the field of prevention and wellness have underscored for me the positive influence and meaningful impact that one person can have on the practice of health and well-being. 

There are so many amazing men and women in our field I could write about but today I want to focus on Dr. Larry Chapman – an individual that I’ve known and respected since 2004 when he was the CEO of Summex.   I first met Larry when his company was selected to offer services through a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) wellness-infused health plan product.  I was a young(er) wellness communications strategist for BCBSRI, and we were creating this really amazing product that allowed participants to opt into one of several different wellness program options based on their risk profile, preferred communications medium and personal behavior change preferences.

Larry provided his years of wisdom and experience in the integration of his online programs into the HMPC product we were building.  Fast forward to 2017 and Larry is now offering his knowledge and expertise through the Chapman Institute’s WellCert® program.  Class participants receive full peer-reviewed articles Larry wrote for the wellness field in The Art of Health Promotion such as his Meta-Evaluation of Worksite Health Promotion Economic Return Studies (TAHP 2012).  Dr. Chapman’s WellCert® program offers four levels of curriculum that he’s carefully designed to provide a foundation of research-backed knowledge and offer a suite of tools to support the development and implementation of a successful worksite wellness program.

Over the past 3 years, I have reconnected with Larry and completed levels 1-3 of his WellCert program.  His field-tested methodologies have provided me with additional tools and strategies that have helped me grow my career and continue my success in the field of health and well-being.  I encourage anyone seeking to improve their knowledge and skills as a worksite wellness consultant to go through one or more of his certification courses. The WWCMA is hosting WellCert level 1 October 9 and 10 and level 2 on October 11 and 12 in Watertown, MA.  Sign up today for a chance to study under Larry and give your career in wellness a boost!

Like Michael Samuelson, Dee Edington and Vic Strecher, Larry Chapman is one of the many influential people from the state of Michigan who has had and continues to have a lasting impact on the field of health and wellbeing.  Thank you, Larry!


Philip Swayze, MS, Certified Wellness Program Director

Hub International, New England

Tags:  BCBSRI  HUB International  Larry Chapman  Philip Swayze  The Chapman Institute  WellCert Certification  Wellness  Wellness Certifications  Wellness Programs  Worksite Wellness 

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Millennials in the Workforce Webinar Recap

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, July 26, 2017

As the proportion of Millennials in the workforce surpasses that of the earlier generations, employers must be prepared to explore new ideas for programming, communications, and engagement. Nick Patel, Founder and President of Wellable, Inc., says that Millennials want three things from their employer: to deliver impact, to work for a company with purpose, and to have perks. But Patel also points out that even when Millennials have these needs met they still tend to be unhappy, and he cites four key influences.

First, this generation of workers grew up in the time of “participation medals”, meaning they may have been rewarded merely for participating in a team sport or activity. Some believe that this created a sense of entitlement which Millennials are carrying into the workplace. Next, they grew up with technology and social media. Patel describes this as making Millennials good at putting filters on things - that in the world of social media everything can appear “72 degrees and sunny.”  Third, a world where rides, television, and shopping can be accessed so readily has generated a level of impatience and desire for instant gratification. Finally, the work environment can be a challenge for Millennials who have to adjust to letting go of the “participation medal” mentality.

When thinking about programming for this generation, Patel points out that financial wellness, work/life balance, and mental health are common concerns. Unlike other generations, Millennials are more likely to define “healthy” as a lifestyle of eating well and exercising rather than the mere avoidance of illness.  Communications should be designed to tap into this mindset as well as cater to Millennials’ interest in reliable health content. Finally, taking a shift from some of the more legacy approaches to worksite wellness such as biometric screenings may pay off when engaging this generation of workers. Patel notes that novel wellness benefits (travel credits, 401(Play) Funds, etc) and consumer-grade technologies are more likely to drive engagement.

Athenahealth’s Megan Sireci is no stranger to the desires of the Millennial worker. Sireci, Manager of University Recruiting and Programs, believes that embracing this unique population starts with company culture. As an example of engaging Millennials in the workplace, Athenahealth has adopted the philosophy of “bring your whole self to work,” and this is accomplished by focusing on three components: Integration of life and work, societal impact, and constant growth.

Offering employee resource groups (ERGs) around topics such as diversity and women’s leadership, as well as providing extracurriculars (book club, running club) are just two of the ways that Athenahealth seeks to integrate life and work for their employees. Sireci knows that perks have become somewhat expected by this population, especially at tech companies, and sees extracurriculars and ERGs as a way of broadening the way they define employee benefits.

The second component to the organization’s philosophy is societal impact - seeing that daily work goes “beyond the desk.” Charity work and volunteering opportunities are offered to accomplish this. Finally, Athenahealth seeks to promote constant growth by creating a culture of teachers and learners. This is accomplished through a number of programs including “10x10” where managers and direct reports spend the first 10 minutes of a monthly check-in providing two-way feedback to each other. Sireci emphasizes that employees are given co-ownership to the future of their career which helps them to feel empowered.

Patel and Sireci provide a clear perspective for employers seeking to engage Millennials both in their wellness programming and their organization as a whole. While many employers should be considering these strategies, they should also remember not to lose sight of engaging older generations. Understanding what your employees want in a wellness program is an integral first step no matter their generational makeup of your workforce.

Register Now for the Annual Conference to learn more about strategies that engage and inspire your workforce.

Click here to listen to the full recording (members only - you must be logged in)

Tags:  employee benefits  employee engagement  engaging millennials  millennials  wellness  workplace wellness  worksite wellness  worksite wellness programs 

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Building A Career In Worksite Wellness: Panel Event Recap

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, April 26, 2017


An evening full of insight and inspiration, the panel held by the Worksite Wellness Council of MA and the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics had a clear theme: networking is everything.  Panelists included Valerie Machinist, MS, RD, LDN, Deborah (“Deb”) Gorhan, MS, MCHES, Philip Swayze, MS, CWPD, and Catherine (“Cathy”) Theodore, RN, BS, CWPC. Each panelist spent some time talking about what they do in their current role and the path they took to get there. Though the panelists all work in different areas of worksite wellness, they shared a similar message about persistence, passion, and getting involved.

“Follow your heart, follow your dreams.”  Catherine (“Cathy”) Theodore, Regional Director of Health Strategies for UnitedHealthcare of New England, shared these words of wisdom with the group. Cathy first entered the health and wellness field as an oncology nurse, knowing from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career helping others. She credits her success to have a passion for wellness, keeping an open mind, and never closing a door on any opportunity. Cathy also told the attendees to believe in themselves, encouraging them to apply for jobs even if they don’t feel they meet the qualifications. She emphasized making a connection with those in charge of hiring to separate yourself from other candidates.

Deb Gorhan, Wellness & Health Promotion Manager for Johnson & Johnson – Americas, says, “Don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do something.” When she first started at J&J, Deb had a vision for the job she ultimately wanted and took it upon herself to write out a description for the role.  Over two years, that exact role finally became her job. She feels that both culture and environment are key to building a successful worksite wellness program. Leaders should represent wellness, and the built environment should be constructed to encourage healthy habits such as walking and taking the stairs. Deb’s career advice is to, “go for it,” and to stay connected with people and groups in the industry to ensure success.  

As the sole Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) on the panel, Valerie Machinist spoke to the role of an RDN in worksite wellness and noted that opportunities for RDNs are growing in the field. Valerie is currently the Product Director for Optum’s On-Site RDN Services and the President of the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, previously working as a health educator and a consultant. Her path to her role at Optum began with a realization that she did not want a career in clinical dietetics, but rather a career where she could help others make the changes to stay out of the hospital in the first place. Valerie said that the importance of volunteering and being connected cannot be understated, and to “never burn bridges.” She also encouraged attendees not to feel “boxed in” by job descriptions, referencing a previous experience in which she crafted a new program assessing environmental factors and breast cancer risk. Finally, Valerie urged current and hopeful wellness professionals to do everything possible to meet people and learn.

A “meandering path” is how Philip Swayze, Director of Health and Performance for HUB International New England, describes his eventual entry into the world of worksite wellness. He credits that path for making him a better consultant and encouraged attendees to parlay their skills and interests into jobs as he did. Like Deb Gorhan, Philip also once created a new role for himself based on both his strengths and the needs of the company. He says, “it’s about being open to suggesting ideas and solving problems,” and encouraged attendees to not be afraid to speak up and raise their hand. Another recommendation was to volunteer to get access to more opportunities. Philip credited his personal and professional connections as being directly responsible for helping him secure at least three jobs in his career.

The panel, though made up of professionals from varied backgrounds, clearly had a consistent theme of networking for success. Each participant credited networking and volunteering as being integral to their success and noted their continued involvement in volunteer roles. Success in the world of worksite wellness, it seems, is about having a passion for the subject, the persistence to pursue your goals, and the personal connections to foster opportunities.

Tags:  wellness  wellness careers  wellness consultant  wellness coordinator  wellness director  wellness program manager  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  worksite wellness programs 

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WWCMA Strategic Planning Update 2017

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WWCMA completed our strategic planning process with the assistance of Health Resources in Action (HRiA), a public health nonprofit consulting firm in 2016. The goal was to develop a strategic plan to guide WWCMA work over the next three years and help guide organizational efforts to achieve the Council’s mission to provide high-quality effective and sustainable services for its members. HRiA helped us identify organizational strengths, areas of need, and build consensus and excitement around the Council’s goals and objectives. We were able to complete this important initiative with the input of our Board of Directors, WWCMA members, committee members, sponsors, and Council volunteers.

Participants provided input through one or more discovery mediums that included focus groups, online surveys, and interviews to explore perceptions of the internal strengths and weaknesses of the Council, as well as the external opportunities and threats in the environment in which the Council operates. The key findings from the data gathering were used to develop priorities and inform the goals, objectives and strategies for a day-long strategic planning session.

Through our strategic planning efforts, we have revised the WWCMA vision and mission statements and developed priority areas and action plans.The outcomes of our work are below.

WWCMA Vision Statement

The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) is the preeminent, independent and objective resource for health promotion in the workplace and champions wellness programs to help employers encourage healthy employees, healthy families, and healthy communities across the Commonwealth.

WWCMA Mission

WWCMA provides networking, education, tools, and other resources to help employers cultivate and sustain a culture of health and wellness for employees and their families. 

WWCMA Priority Areas for 2017 

We will be working to create and deliver innovative programs and resources that address the diverse needs of our audience to advance the best practices of worksite wellness. The marketing team will continue to position WWCMA as the industry leader to attract, engage and retain members, sponsors, and partners, and promote the advancement of worksite wellness throughout our state. We will work to strengthen and sustain a collaborative and diverse council governance structure and ensure financial sustainability and growth by delivering value to our community. 

The Council thanks, HRiA and our wide array of members, sponsors, and volunteers who provided their time and valuable insights and feedback to the Council to make our strategic planning process a success. The Council will keep our members, sponsors, and volunteers up-to-date on our progress in meeting our strategic goals and will communicate improvements and new initiatives in our four priority areas. We are looking forward to an exciting 2017!

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A New Perspective on Managing and Measuring Your Wellness Program's Success

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Imagine two local entrepreneurs are both opening new restaurants in the same neighborhood. The first entrepreneur, Sue, has decided to hold a soft opening to meet the community and see how her dishes are received. The second entrepreneur, Bob, considered holding a soft opening but wasn’t sure it would be worth the cost. He has lived in the neighborhood for a few years and hopes to bring in new customers through word of mouth.

One month after opening their respective restaurants, Sue and Bob both decide to make a change in an attempt to increase revenue. Sue sits down and analyzes her sales for each menu item with the intent to eliminate unpopular items. Meanwhile, Bob decides to ramp up his marketing efforts by launching a promotional coupon. He feels that poor visibility may be the reason for sluggish sales. Which restaurant owner do you believe has the greater likelihood of success?

Though restaurant ownership and employee wellness programs may not seem to have much overlap, many of the same principles apply. Just as a savvy entrepreneur would not open a new restaurant without research and planning, an experienced wellness program manager or director would not roll out a new program without appropriate data to guide decisions. Sue chose to collect data by holding a soft opening and then analyzed additional metrics after the first month to help guide her decisions about the menu. Bob, on the other hand, did not use data to drive his decisions and instead used his personal opinions about the customers to guide his choices.

While both Sue and Bob may ultimately be successful, only Sue will have the data to understand how she got there. The same is true for employee wellness programs. Successful programs should be thoroughly planned prior to implementation. The needs, interests, and preferences of employees should be taken into consideration. Additionally, a clear goal should be established from the outset. What do you hope the program will accomplish? How will you know if your program is a success? The most successful wellness programs are those which were implemented strategically, are assessed regularly, and have buy-in from employees at all levels of the organization.

Join our educational program, Workplace Wellbeing: Measuring and Managing Your Program Investment on February 7th to learn more about data-driven employee wellbeing programs.



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2016 Partner Blog Posts You Won't Want To Miss

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In preparation for 2017, here are some great blog posts from this past year from our partners and other industry professionals that you won't want to miss!

Advancing Wellness
Three Ways You are Doing Worksite Wellness Wrong, and How to Get It Right

Most wellness programs are designed while looking through the lens of money. Who are the most expensive employees? What can we do to change those employees so they will cost less? These are the wellness programs where very little changes in overall employee health and the money you were hoping to save goes down the drain along with the additional cost of your failing wellness program.
Here are three common mistakes companies make in their wellness program design and solutions to turn them around.

Read the full blog post here:


Soft Benefits Growing In Importance

The article reviews six emerging benefits that are increasingly being implemented as ammunition in the talent wars, and it should come as no surprise that five of the six benefits are related to employee wellness.  The five wellness benefits that made the soft benefits list were: Subsidized gym memberships, Activity tracker competitions, Incentives for bicycle commuting, Healthier food and beverage choices, and Flexible work arrangements.

Read the full blog post here:


Virgin Pulse
How To Build A Network Of Employee Wellbeing Champions

One of the key elements of a successful employee wellbeing program is a robust network of Champions. More often than not, programs with defined Champions result in higher levels of enrollment, engagement and sustained participation thanks to the involvement of these vital contributors who promote their wellbeing programs and actively rally their peers.

Read the full blog post here:


The Value of Mindfulness & Meditation at Work

If you haven’t been seriously considering mindfulness and meditation as an initiative, it might be time to think about it. Here today to give us insight is Noel Coakley, an independently licensed mental health counselor, yoga instructor and trainer and consultant for mindfulness and meditation practice. Noel provides meditation training to a variety of companies across the Greater Boston area.

Read the full blog post here:


Wellness Workdays
3 Key Benefits of Worksite Wellness Programs

There may always be individuals who don’t believe worksite wellness programs provide a return on investment (ROI), but those individuals are missing out on major benefits for their employees. While ROI is important, and a well-designed program can deliver a solid return, keep in mind that worksite wellness programs are all about employees. These programs generate invaluable results and have a real impact on bringing teams together, fostering trust, and boosting morale and motivation.

Read the full blog post:

Tags:  mindfulness  wellness  worksite wellness 

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Are Your Employees Sleep Deprived?

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Top 3 Signs Your Employees Need More Sleep
It's no mystery that sleepy employees are often less productive than their well-rested counterparts. Make yourself familiar with these signs that your employees need more ZZZs:

1. They make more errors than usual. 
When a productive, reliable employee begins to make more frequent mistakes this may be a sign that they are not getting adequate sleep.  While no organization would knowingly welcome mistakes, the possibility of them should be especially concerning to the healthcare industry. The Joint Commission reported that medical residents working 24-hour shifts made "36% more serious medical errors" than those working 16 consecutive hours.

2. They are dependent on caffeine. Though caffeine in small doses (100-250 milligrams) has been shown to increase alertness, a dependency on caffeine may be a sign that an employee is fatigued.  Look for employees consuming energy drinks or multiple cups of coffee, especially in the afternoon. Once daily caffeine intake exceeds a certain level (usually 500-600 milligrams), adverse effects, including irritability and insomnia, can occur. This can lead to a worsening of the sleep/wake cycle and further dependency on caffeinated beverages.

3. They are late to work or calling in sick more frequently. Identifying patterns of behavior can help pinpoint employees suffering from sleep deprivation. A 2015 analysis of data from an employee wellness program found that higher levels of sleep disturbance were associated with a greater likelihood of absenteeism, and that over time this was directly correlated with a decline in performance and an increase in health care costs. 


Want to learn more about how to help your employees sleep?  Attend our webinar on January 12th: Maximize Your Employee Health and Performance - Help them Sleep!


Tags:  Lack of Sleep  Sleep Deprivation  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs 

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Q&A with 2016 Bronze Level WorkWell MA Award Winner, Flexon Industries

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, December 14, 2016


2016 WorkWell MA Bronze Award Winner, Flexcon Industries
Interview with Kim Smith

Tell us about yourself and your organization. 
Flexcon Industries, a member of the Swan Group, is a world leader in the design and manufacture of pre-pressurized diaphragm tanks used in water storage applications. Focusing on quality, innovation, and customer service since 1989 they have positioned their products at the forefront of the industry. Flexcon is the first company to offer a stainless-steel water connection on a well tank, a union connection, the first flow thru tank for constant pressure systems, and the first diaphragm composite tank.

I am the Administrative Assistant/Wellness Coordinator and, along with Vicki Scopa, run the wellness program.  We organize seminars, challenges and bring in vendors from the health and wellness industry. We also handle all program communications including newsletters, postings and emails.

Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for team you/your team?
We have worked hard to organize and maintain our wellness program so this means a lot to us and shows us that our efforts are worthwhile.  Vicki and I both do this in our spare time so winning an award is validation that our program is on track and working. 

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?
Wellness programs are important because it reflects on the company. It shows that they care for their employees, not just for the work that they do for the organization, but also on a personal level.  The program is not enforced and it’s not a numbers thing, meaning it doesn’t tie back to our insurance. No one is punished or rewarded for participating or not in the program, rather it is done to engage employees and help them on all levels.

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
Our ongoing programs include the healthy snack of the month, we are involved in the Nourish to Flourish program, and we have a weight loss program called Weigh-to-Earn. 

We don’t currently have anything new planned but we are hoping that in conjunction with our new insurance broker we will be trying out some new programs.  We would like to bring in a vendor each month for a workshop or class for our employees to take advantage of such as a fitness classes, an ergonomics class, a nutrition workshop, etc.

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 
We believe the program is good for morale. Giving people knowledge and ways to help them be healthier is the first component and then some of our wellness challenges bring everyone together so it’s great for employee morale and engagement.

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 
The healthy snack of the month is unique because we provide our employees with different types of food that they might not normally eat. In the past, we have given out different kinds of fruits, veggie cups and we recently have teamed up with Snack Nation, who will be providing us monthly with unique options such as plantain chips, sweet potato chips and other healthy alternatives.  We have a diverse group of people so we try to find things that are beneficial for everyone.

Who are your wellness champions? (CEO, division leader, HR leader, an employee, etc) 
Just myself and Vicki, who is our Document Control/Wellness Coordinator.

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 
Keep it simple to start. If you make it to elaborate to begin with it is hard to keep up.  But don’t give up – you might get a lot of resistance in the beginning but it will pay off!


Tags:  AwardsMassachusetts  Employee Engagement  Flexcon  HR  Human Resources  Q&A  Wellness  wellness ambassadors  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs  Workwell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards  WWCMA 

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Q&A with 2016 Silver WorkWell MA Award Winner, athenahealth

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2016 WorkWell MA Silver Award Winner, athenahealth
Interview with Kate Farren


athenahealth was featured on our blog on June 8, 2016 during a Q&A session about being a 2015 WorkWell MA Award Winner.  Much of the information remains the same about their wellness program which can be found here, however, there was one additional question that was answered this year. 


Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for you/your team?
Being recognized among so many top Massachusetts organizations is a true honor. Our fellow award winners are strong innovators who clearly have a passion for the health and wellbeing of their employees; a passion demonstrated in the programs these employers create and experiences they provide for their population. Partnering with the WWCMA and getting to engage with so many other likeminded individuals and organizations is such a benefit and provides a platform from which we can both teach and learn from one another.


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