ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Linda Feiden

From Heels to Sneakers, One Person at a Time!

I currently work as the Corporate Wellness & Fitness Administrator for CDS Global, a technology-driven company that provides end to end business process outsourcing. CDS Global employs 1,900 individuals in the U.S. across multiple locations. In an effort to improve the health and well-being of employees and curb rising healthcare costs, CDS Global implemented a worksite wellness initiative in November 2006 which included creating the Corporate Wellness & Fitness Administrator role. I have held this position and been in the wellness industry for the past eight years.

Professional Development
I graduated from the University of Iowa with a BBA in Marketing and a MA in Journalism. Wellness has always been part of my DNA and my current position draws from both my education and passion.  In 2011 I became a Certified WELCOA Faculty member - the most valuable training I've received in the field of wellness. I am also a Certified First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor and ALA Freedom From Smoking Instructor. Additionally I have received five corporate Make a Difference Awards from CDS Global for work related to improving the lives of our employees.    

Demonstrated Success
We have implemented various wellness programs over the years to address physical activity, weight, stress, smoking and other risk factors. Aggregate results of our annual wellness screenings help determine our wellness program emphasis.  Areas of recent concern were high blood pressure, waist size and high body fat/BMI.  We determined that a Biggest Loser program could be used to measure those risks, keep employees accountable, and give them tools to be successful in reducing their numbers. The 8-week program was tested at our corporate office with 101 employees across 24 teams.  At the beginning and end we took everyone's weight, BMI, body fat percentage, waist and hip measurement, blood pressure, and resting heart rate. Participants were required to weigh in weekly and those weights were recorded.  They were given a food journal, weekly tips, motivational emails, and challenges.  At the end of the program we celebrated their success.  Certificates were given for completing the program.  The top two teams (based on total percentage of weight loss) and individual men and women were awarded trophies, medals, and prize money.  The winner's pictures were posted across corporate video boards, creating wellness champions.  

Results: 86 out of 101 participants completed the program.  Those 86 lost 843.4 pounds.  Eighty-one percent lowered their BMI, 75 percent lowered their body fat percentage, 80 percent lost inches from their waist, and 65 percent lowered their blood pressure.  Teams formed walking groups, shared healthy recipes, and brought healthy snacks for corporate meetings.  Many continued with a follow up maintenance program.

Use of 7 Benchmarks: 1. Our CEO is supportive of wellness. She sends out corporate memos encouraging participation, approves our wellness budget, and participates.  She sent a personal email to all Biggest Loser participants congratulating them on their success.  2. We have an onsite wellness team made up of employees and have wellness champions.  3. We use tools such as wellness screenings, HRAs and interest surveys to collect data to help drive our efforts. 4. We have a budget in place and work with vendors to implement a time line to roll out activities. 5. We use data collected to help determine programming across physical activity, nutrition/weight, stress, smoking/alcohol, financial, etc.  6. We have an ergonomic program in place, offer smoking cessation and weight management classes, work to reduce on-the-job injuries, offer EAP, promote walking programs, offer flex time, tuition assistance, fitness reimbursements and more. 7. We measure participation, satisfaction, and results when possible.  

As a side note - these benchmarks helped our Harlan CDS Global site receive the Blue Zones designation recently.

I always try to "walk the talk" by following the same criteria I preach.  I stay fit by running and using our onsite fitness facility.  I participate in 5K events with other employees.  I make healthy eating choices; participate in onsite programs and show up to work with a good attitude ready to tackle the day. In my role I lead our wellness committee made up of a dozen employees and oversee our wellness coordinators across all U.S. CDS Global locations. I work closely with both our Occupational Health and Human Resources departments. I have spoken at events such as the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative about wellness initiatives and was a part of the Gray's Lake Connector Trail fundraising program which helped build a walking/bicycling path between the South Side of Des Moines and Gray's Lake, giving our employees easy access to trails.  My advice to others interested in wellness is to lead by example and get involved.

My goal is to keep employees engaged with wellness.  This begins with our annual biometric screenings.  A corporate directive does not allow us to offer premium incentives so we have to be creative to drive employees to participate and become active in their results. We use the following formula:

  • Pre-register employees for their wellness screening.  They may use their Healthy U wellness web portal to reschedule or cancel their appointment if necessary. 
  • All screening participants receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win prizes.  In addition each new person who participates and anyone who brings someone who did not participate the year before is put in a drawing for a chance to win additional prizes.  We also hold department competitions and serve a free healthy breakfast.
  • Once an employee's biometric screening results are downloaded to their web portal they automatically earn points toward a gift card.  They also earn points for completing their electronic HRA and if they have a risk such as high cholesterol a Well Tracks program pops up with fact sheets and quizzes which they can complete for additional points.  Employees receive a printable report with their HRA and biometric numbers.

Our participation numbers increased this year to 79 percent.

Compelling Vision

The rise of chronic disease and the role our sedentary lifestyles play continue to threaten our well-being, and advances in technology can help or hinder this trend.  I believe that we as wellness professionals must search out ways to take the best technology has to offer to enhance wellness while not losing sight of the importance of person-to-person interaction.   

In the next 5 years I see more emphasis on using mobile apps to monitor our health, track our fitness, and incent us to make better health choices.  Putting an application on PC’s to remind employees to stand up and move every hour, using fitness tracking devices to input activity into a walk/run program, or using a patient app to share health information with a medical provider.  But I also see a continued emphasis at our company on getting our annual preventative exams, holding walking or standing meetings, attending health presentations, and encouraging movement through corporate team events and fitness room enhancements. 

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