ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Sharon Morfeld

Helping Employers and Employees on Their Wellness Journey: An Employee Benefit Consultant’s Goal and Hope

As a Senior Client Service Consultant in Employee Benefits with Holmes Murphy & Associates, I have the privilege and opportunity to assist client employer groups with their wellness programs. I’ve spent 36 years in the insurance industry and 12 of those years have been in the wellness arena building wellness programs. The last 4 of those years have been with Holmes Murphy, based in Des Moines, but I am in the St. Louis, MO office.


I have a MBA and Bachelor of Science in Management/Marketing from Maryville University in St. Louis.  I am a WELCOA Faculty member for the last few years and obtained a wellness certification with the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU).  Seeing employer claim experience for many years and the upward trajectory of health care expenses, employers need help to get their employees healthier – to get preventive screenings, reduce medications and be aware of the impact health has on their daily lives.  WELCOA gives me the foundation with the 7 Benchmarks to help employers begin and continue their wellness journey.


As an employee benefits consultant, I’ve built and assisted in the building of employer wellness programs so below are a few examples of my accomplishments.

  1. I lead a 6-session nutrition program for an employer based on “YOU On A Diet” by Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen.  At each meeting, sections of the book were covered, informational handouts provided, experiments conducted and samples of healthy foods such as green tea and dark chocolate were distributed.  I designed the meetings to be fun and informative – the attendees were very attentive and engaged.  As a result, 36 out of the 40 participants reported an overall weight loss; 21 of them reported weight loss greater than 5 pounds; 9 participants reported weight loss greater than 10 pounds and the total weight loss for the group was 338.5 pounds!
  2. A City I am working with had very limited success with previous wellness initiatives – their past health fair and biometric screening events were low attended; the participation percentage was in the single digits.  With my guidance and work, they issued an employee survey, established a Wellness Committee, branded their program with a logo, built an employee intranet site, held a very successful health fair and biometric screening event with participation at 39% and just had a mammogram event with 18% of eligible female employees participating.  We have an operating plan into 2016 with the next event being a LunchNLearn and anticipate high attendance – there will be a free lunch!  A significant percentage of attendees at the biometric screening had not had an annual test in recent years and was going to use the information they received to make behavioral changes.  Best of all, the Wellness Committee is engaged and enthusiastic, wanting to help their colleagues.
  3. A large School District has been involved in wellness for the last few years.  With my work, we conducted an employee survey.  The results indicated a frustration with the ability to attend events due to various dismissal times and workload.  As a result, biometric screenings are held at various times over a 2-week period, a diabetes testing van was available for an entire day and the health fair is held all day on a Saturday.  The last biometric screening participation percentage was 92% and the health fair attendance was 20% (the group is over 3k so that is really very good).  A monthly newsletter and employee intranet site provide wellness information. 
  4. A not-for-profit organization has had no wellness program.  With my work, they issued an employee survey, established a Wellness Committee, issued a brand logo, working on a newsletter, setting up a walking program and are having their first on-site flu shot clinic and blood pressure check. 

The WELCOA 7 Benchmarks have played a role with all of these employers with branding, establishing a wellness committee, having an operating plan offering initiatives/incentives based on survey results.


I believe in wellness.  My co-workers in the St. Louis office consider me a wellness expert and ask me for information for their employer clients.  I am a member of the Clinical Risk Management Team for Holmes Murphy and this allows me to work with other offices and find out about best practices to share with our office.  With my goal everyday to “walk the talk” by eating right, moving, etc. (for example, I order healthy options at lunch meetings, have had a standing desk since January 2014, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get my annual preventive screenings) I show my co-workers and clients how important it is to have good health.   My enthusiasm for wellness assists employers with building their foundation and program by making it a fun project.  Gaining knowledge, talking to WELCOA members, taking courses/certifications and knowing what wellness area you want to pursue are good ways to gain leadership.


The two most important things for an employer’s wellness program is considering the data and making the program as customized for the employee as possible.  Asking the employees what is important to them will greatly assist the employer with having a successful long-term wellness program.  Many employers I start to work with have done a biometric screening and maybe had a health fair and then aren’t sure what to do next.  They haven’t asked the employees for input and therefore have put in programs that are not well attended or have low participation.  For example, an employer had no wellness initiatives and did an employee survey, receiving 74% response - employees were glad to be asked and are enthusiastic to participate.   Reviewing data gives an overall picture of the group but a customized program brings better results.  Following this strategy also shows the employees the employer wants to help them.


There are so many changes in the wellness arena that it is often difficult to keep up with the incoming information.  A big opportunity will be in the area of wellness electronics – gadgets, portals, etc.  In my daily role, I interview and work with a variety of wellness vendors to see how they can help our clients, not just for our office, but for all of Holmes Murphy.  As a member of WELCOA Nation, I have support and resources to help me help my clients.  It will continue to be important to help employers help their employees get healthier, not just from a cost savings perspective, but because it’s the right thing to do.  My goal and hope is to continue to assist employers with their wellness initiatives – to have healthier and happier people.

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Sharon is very passionate about wellness. She walks the walk and talks the talk. She will open her heart and mind to everyone in your organization from the new kid on the block to the CEO. I believe she has no peers in the St. Louis market when it comes to knowledge of what works in the wellness space.

mike k. on 10/31/2014

Sharon is an amazing mentor, innovator and leader in wellness! Her commitment to helping others help themselves is second to none. I am proud to be her associate and have her on my team!

Julie H. on 10/27/2014

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