ENTRY FROM: 2016 Top Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Emily Elrod

A Genius with 10,000 Geniuses

"The kiss of death is to think you are a genius with 10,000 helpers, instead, be the genius with 10,000 geniuses." Even though I classify myself more as a good ‘ol country girl over a genius any day, only being in the wellness realm for 5 years, I do believe this saying has steered me to much success in life. In 2015, Hamilton Health Care Systems brought me on board as a Wellness Coordinator to create and execute a wellness program for 1,600 covered lives. Even though, I came from the textile industry as an ergonomical engineer, I knew my passion was to help people become the best of version of themself. With tenacity and drive, Hamilton has far exceeded its wellness expectation and we are so excited for the future of the company and our Associates.

Emily A Elrod

1. Professional Development 

I received a Bachelor's degree in Exercise and Health Science in 2010 from Kennesaw State and then went on complete my Master's degree in 2013. I have certifications in Leadership Essentials and Health Coaching Fundamentals and am working to become a WELCOA Faculty Member.  I attribute much success to the WELCOA Courses and Certifications.  My Master's program talked about the psychology behind health changes but the WELCOA gave practical tips for success that I could apply in my work. 

2. Demonstrated Success 

At Hamilton Health Care System, a self-insured company, we were facing the crisis of the exponential growth of our healthcare cost.  A corporate decision was made in 2015 to create a wellness program to address these alarming costs.  For 2015, Associates participated in biometric screenings and a Personal Health Assessment.  In 2016, we upped the difficulty with an incentive structure allowing Associates to choose relevant activities to earn 600 points for a $600 premium discount in the following year’s medical premium. Since the institution of the program, we have seen the following accomplishments:

  • A 6% reduction from Associate in high risk to moderate risk.
  • Over 100 Associates have lost 10 pounds or more or quit smoking since November 1st of 2015.  Together losing over 2000 pounds. 
  • Policy changes allowing Associates to take walking breaks on Wednesdays. 
  • Associates turnover is down by 16% for Associates that are participating in the Program
  • A 97.3% Participation Rate (had to complete Screening and PHA) for 2015.
  • Currently, a 72.5% Participation Rate (Had to earn 600 points through various activities) in 2016, but trending towards 80% completion rate program with Nov. 1st deadline. 

The 7 benchmarks WELCOA discusses were SO important to the success of the program. I believe the top 3 which I seen the most effect this year was CEO Support, Cohesive Wellness Team, and Appropriate Inventions. 

CEO Support- This was a given for me. The C-level team actually was the ones that had already got the ball rolling before I came on board.  They have been excited about the program and are actively participating.  A C-level Associate has been in the top 10 of each of the 3 challenges offered and one has even lost over 25 pounds since Nov 1st of last year. 

Creating a Cohesive Wellness Team- Since the first benchmark was kind of a given for me, the wellness team is where I decided to focus much of my time finding my "geniuses."  As I stated above the success of the program, I believe, is around this one concept.  “Be the Genius with 10,000 Geniuses.” We sought out Associates that had influence, smiled, and were eager to learn about being healthy or were already living the healthy lifestyle.  We had a wellness committee made up of 16 Associates that we described as our think tank. Then we selected 24 Associates to be the wellness champions for their areas. These Associates were the eyes and ears of the program.  Without the two groups, I could have never had the success because they allowed me to “walk in the shoes” of their Associates to see where the pros and cons of the program were.  

Appropriate Interventions- I kept the mindset that the best intervention was the one the Associate will do.  We sought out activities that would allow autonomy for the Associates and were relatable to them no matter where they were on the continuum of health. We had education sections, points for being physically active or eating healthy, challenges around physical activity and water drinking, Wellness Webinars, and so much more.  This allowed Associates to have no excuse when it came to receiving the points.   As an organization with the average participating Associate age of over 50, we also created paper trackers to assist the less technologically savvy Associates.

3. Leadership

I think the best compliment an Associate has given me to date was from an older maintenance man, “People have been telling us to be healthy, but you show us how to be healthy and I want to thank you for that!” “Actions speak louder than words” run so true for an effective program.  Yes, I want to eat a box of cookies some days or take the elevator, but I do not because I know eyes are watching me and I have to hold myself to a higher standard. This does not mean I claim perfection; however, I strive for it while preaching to Associates to allow 6 cheat days a month.  This lessens the perceived burden that perfection places on oneself.

4. Innovation

I would not classify any of the ideas as innovative.  They were wise words spoken to me.

Finding my 10,000 geniuses.  
Finding Interventions all could do. Using C.A. R. Method- Competency, Autonomy and Relatedness based on Self Determination Theory by Deci and Ryan.  
Trust the Associates…if they said they did something, they did it.
Allowing Associates 6 cheat days so people are not hindered with perfection.

I think all of these contributed in a way to the accomplishments listed in the demonstrated success section.  

5. Vision

I think the biggest threat to healthcare is ourselves.  At the beginning of this journey for our program, it was a very me orientated program. A genius looking for helpers and the Associates knew the program was for the companies benefit only. But when we changed our mindset, they changed theirs. It was their ideas we instituted.  It wasn’t big brother looking out over them. It was a unified group where they were allowed to become happy and healthier Associates. In return, Hamilton received more engaged Associates. In the next 5 years, I want to continue this simply designed program out to the community. Allowing for more people to enjoy the effects we have accomplished from our program by finding solutions that will work for them. 

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Emily A Elrod Art of Chocolate Event- Exploring healthier options 1 of 100 Associates that have lost 10 lbs or more 1 of 100 Associates that have lost 10 lbs or more 1 of 100 Associates that have lost 10 lbs or more 1 of 100 Associates that have lost 10 lbs or more Associates participating in Walking Wednesday A Group of the 100 Associates that have lost 10 lbs or more and received recognition at Annual Benefits and Wellness Fair
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And an update... we had an 84% Complete earning of the incentive and a 11% reduction in high risk category, 17% increase in low risk category,and over $900/per claimant savings for Associates in the program.

Emily E. on 1/25/2017

Thank you so much. I am lucky to work at an organization that supports the wellness cause.

Emily E. on 1/24/2017

Enjoyed reading your entry, and sounds like you are making a real difference.

James H. on 12/14/2016

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