Lincoln Electric System
Top 100 Health Promotion Professional
Andy Link, Wellness Coordinator for Lincoln Electric System.
I received my Bachelor's degree in exercise science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1993. I immediately continued my education by receiving a Master’s degree in health education also from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1996.
I currently am the Health and Wellness Coordinator for Lincoln Electric System in Lincoln Nebraska. Before I started working for LES I worked for Healthbreak Inc. as the Director of Health Promotion for Alegent Health in Omaha, Nebraska. I am certified as a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) with the American College of Sport’s Medicine and 2013 Certified WELCOA Faculty member.
The main health and wellness concern that we faced at LES was lack of a strategic plan and the lack of consistent programming from year to year. In addition, there was a lack of trust of employees in the wellness program. All of which led to low participation rates. I was hired in 2011. Prior to my hiring the employee participation in 2009 was 70% and in 2010 was 45%. Since 2011 we are averaging 86% employee participation and an overall participation rate in the wellness program of 77% for both employees and spouses. We have created a consistent program that does not deviate from the core structure. We have linked our wellness program and the incentive structure to our benefits in the form of premium differentials based on participation/engagement in the wellness program and one’s personal health and health outcomes based on our annual health screening.
With the help of our wellness program partners Healthbreak Inc. and SimplyWell, our wellness program now provides individual action plans and targeted education for each participant’s health risks based on the annual health screening and questionnaire. In addition, wellness challenges are offered to target the leading health risks of the group.
As a result of our wellness program …
58% of LES’s participants have a biometric health score in the optimal range
On average, 22% of LES’s participants increased their biometric health score by at least five points every year of the program’s existence.
Approximately 77% of LES’s employees and spouses (n=662) participate in the wellness program.
LES has been able to decrease the annual health claims by 13.3% over the past four years.
As a representative in field of health/wellness and face of the wellness program at LES, I have to “walk the talk.” One of my philosophies of life is that my words have to match my actions. If they don’t match, I have damaged my integrity and the integrity of the wellness program. One of the ways that I have “walk the talk” is by improving my own personal health. Since I have started here at LES four years ago, I have improved all my biometric markers to our “target” category including my weight. I have lost 32 pounds in these four years.
My work experiences have helped me to be where I am at today. I was fortunate enough (or too stubborn enough to do anything else) to be in this field for as many years as I have. In these I worked in many different fields in the health and wellness industry. My two years prior to me coming to LES I worked for Healthbreak Inc and in conjunction with SimplyWell helped me the most for where I am at today. In addition, being connected organizations such as WELCOA, WELLCOM, and WorkWell have always kept me up-to-date on the ever changing world of wellness.
The advice that I would give other wellness practitioners hoping to move into more leadership roles is to follow one of my other philosophies that I have learned over the years. Create a wellness program that increases access to health and wellness programs for all participants and decrease barriers the prevent participants engaging in health and wellness programs.
One thing that I have done differently that has helped the overall participation in the program is to increase and improve our communication methods to all of our participants. I try to gather as many home email addresses that I can get. This was in the effort to increase the targeted communication to all participants including our spouses and employees who do not check their work email. By increasing our targeted emails we have been able to increase our overall participation by 1% each year.
From a programming aspect, I have implemented two reimbursement programs. LES now has a tobacco cessation program that I run and a reimbursement program to help employees pay for cessation products/medications to help them quit. Finally, I was able to get passed a fitness center reimbursement program to help participants improve their physical activity.
I agree with the example that was provided, I think it is very important that we all continue to work together to share best practices, successes, advise, and mentoring. I feel that over the past two years there have been a couple of issues that have come up that has in some respects taken the attention away from the development of innovation in our field and has created more time spent defending our field both externally and internally. In my opinion, I feel the way these issues are being discussed is like watching cable 24-hour news channels pairing individuals of opposite opinions of a controversial issue go at it on TV. All it is doing is creating bi-partisanship in our field. I believe this is not good for our industry. There has to be better ways communicate these issues without being so polarizing.