ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Dan Newhoff

Using Employee Wellness to Drive Organizational Health Improvements

Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) is a critical access hospital in the panhandle of Nebraska and serves as an employer of 300 individuals. The mission of the Hospital is to "Lead and innovate in health care delivery and community wellness". Fulfilling our mission to community wellness, BBGH has had an employee wellness program for 16 years and have made improvements every step of the way. In January 2012, BBGH hired me as its first ever full time wellness coordinator. For almost 3 years, I have spent time structuring an employee wellness program that would drive health outcomes by implementing policy and environmental changes, providing on-site wellness interventions, strategic planning sessions annually, and creating a culture of wellness within the organization, as well as opening our events to the community. Through this process I have spent much of my time analyzing and evaluating the wellness program status and outcomes using much of WELCOA’s information and resources to help. In 2012 the Box Butte General Hospital Employee Wellness Program was the recipient of the WELCOA Well Workplace Gold Award.

Professional Development

I have bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in program management from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.  I am also a certified wellness culture and health coach and currently working on my National Strength and Conditioning Certification. I was recognized as BBGH’s Employee of the Month Nominee two times and having the biggest body transformation companywide in 2012.  Box Butte General Hospital has received recognition for our employee wellness program on regional, state, and national levels, receiving the Governors Excellence in Wellness Award in 2011, WELCOA Well Workplace Gold Award in 2012 and also a Visionary Award from the Panhandle Worksite Wellness Council in 2011. As the Wellness Coordinator, it is my duty to lead by example and make the healthy choice the easy choice.  I have a strong desire to help people accomplish what they feel is the most important to their health.  The thing that has been the most helpful for me in my position has been my college education and Wellness Culture Coaching Certification.

Demonstrated Success

The most effective strategy in our organization is the creation and implementation of wellness challenges that address different areas of wellness with the purpose for health improvement.  For instance, if we do a walking challenge the minimum requirement for completion would be the recommended amount of steps per day.  If we do a physical activity intervention, the minimum requirement is the CDC’s recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.  If it is behavior based program, the minimum requirements include meals per day, snacks per day, physical activity, hours of sleep, and water consumed are included into the intervention.  Additionally, these interventions are longer in length to help develop a habit so that the behavior changes are carried over after the challenge is complete.

With these types of programs, we have seen a significant improvement in our organizational health status and participation in the wellness program.  Currently we have participation of 64%.  Last year, 82% of our participants met a health outcome goal by either improving their health score by 5 points or more, or meeting the recommended health score of 85 set by the National Standards of Health (determined by 6 biometric measures).

Additionally, we have been able to change the culture of the organization due to these outcomes as well as policy changes.  These cultural changes include:

  • Created an “Eat Right Menu” which is an option in our cafeteria that includes a lighter option than the regular special.
  • Healthy options are marked with the “eat right” light bulb in our carry out cooler and vending machines.
  • A healthy meeting policy that allows catered meals provided by the hospital to be selected from the “eat right” menu.
  •  A walking work station
  • Smoke free campus
  • Designated breast feeding rooms, pumps for our employees, and fridge’s available for storage
  • A wellness incentive policy that discloses the qualifications, requirements, and purpose of the wellness program

We used the 7 C’s to success to help in our organization in the following ways:

  1. Capturing CEO Support- Our CEO was involved in our strategic planning sessions for the organization as well as served on our wellness committee.
  2. Creating Cohesive Wellness Teams- We have a wellness committee comprised of employees from many different departments.  We created a team charter with expectations, roles, and responsibilities for all committee members.
  3. Collecting Data to Drive Health Efforts- Yearly, we have all wellness participants participate in a biometric screening process and have them complete a Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) provided by a third party vendor.
  4. Carefully Creating Operating Plan- We use information gathered from the biometric screening and HRA and evaluate it in a yearly strategic planning meeting to come up with new goals, objectives, and rationale to implement over the next wellness year.
  5. Choosing Appropriate Interventions- We use information collected in our biometric screenings, HRA, and also an employee interest survey to implement interventions that will be effective in addressing organizational health risk.
  6. Creating a Supportive Environment-We have created several new policies and made revisions to existing policies to make it easier for employees to make healthy choices such as the eat right menu, tobacco cessation programs, nicotine replacement therapy, breast feeding room, walking workstation, fitness center, and onsite fitness classes.
  7. Evaluating Outcomes-Each year, all of our data is collected then compared and trended against years previous.  Through this, we can see if the changes we made have been effective or not and determine the next steps needed.


I think the best way I can demonstrate the importance of living a healthy lifestyle is by doing it myself.  Just like many people, there was a time when I looked at myself and said “What happened”?  At that point in time I had ballooned up to 219 pounds and was 26% body fat.  I knew that someone in my position would have to walk the talk to be motivational and inspirational, so I decided to improve my health through continued diet and exercise.  Over the course of 3 years, I have lost a total of 56 pounds and decreased my body fat percentage by 11 percent.   I have been able to build on my leadership in the organization by participating in appointed leadership roles such as our service excellence program and new employee ambassador program.  I get out to talk to people as much as possible to encourage them to partake in programs offered and opportunities presented.  I would advise anyone in my field to do some of these very same things.  Be what you are helping others to be and take any opportunity possible to serve in other leadership roles in the organization.


We have created or implemented interventions that are

  1. Longer in duration
  2. Engaging/not just education based
  3. Social in nature and often are team events
  4. Have a goal that has been shown to contribute to better health

These four things have been critical to the outcomes of the program in terms of health, behavior, and culture.  Since the goal of each intervention is supported by evidence to contribute to health improvements, we have seen a shift in that direction in our organization as a whole.  Behavior wise, the duration of each program being longer helps make the behavior a habit, rather than something new to try.  Lastly, with the interventions being social based or team based, there are more people who participate in the organization.  This helps hardwire a culture of wellness into the company because everyone can see it and everyone is doing it.

Compelling Vision

I believe one of the biggest threats, but also a great opportunity in the wellness industry is incentivizing with the purpose of driving health outcomes.  I believe that incentives can be a great motivator.  I also feel that employee wellness is about improving the health of individuals.  Educating organizations about how to use incentives to drive health outcomes is a must.

In the next five years, I will continue to provide wellness programs that drive outcomes.  However, a shift of focus more towards the individual through health coaching and peer coaching will be emphasized.  Health coaching empowers employees to be accountable to what they would like to achieve and to take action in their own lives, their families, coworkers, and community members.  The most powerful thing to inspire others is our own personal stories, success, and struggles.  With this approach, we are better able to make the program fit the individual rather than making the individual fit the program.

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Daniel N.
My name is Dan Newhoff, Wellness Coordinator of Box Butte General Hospital, I am native to Western Nebraska. I earned a Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science with a Minor in Program Management. In December 2010, I took a Rehab Tech position at Box Butte General Hospital. I enjoyed being a part of the Rehab team and in January 2012, I started my current position as the first full time Wellness Coordinator at Box Butte General Hospital. I love what I do and have a great passion for helping others improve their health. BBGH is a great place to work and the culture here is obviously one of wellness. View Daniel N.'s Profile.
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