ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Randy Westman

Come on in, the water's great!

I am currently the Human Resource Manager at Johnson Machine works, a small family owned steel fabricator in southern Iowa. I have been in my position for 17 years and we have been doing wellness for 14 years, for 8 years well. We currently have 90 employees.

The Flying Anvil 5k

We feel it is important to promote wellness in our community as well, therefore annually, on the 4th of July weekend we hold the Flying Anvil 5k. We create excitement and a feeling on wanting to be involved by the cool way we start the race and carry on a company tradition of "Shooting the Anvil" to start the race. This video was from our race it's first year.

Professional Development
I have a BGS from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the University of Colorado-Denver.  I hold a PHR designation from the Human Resource Certification Institute and a Faculty Designation from WELCOA.  I am a certified Financial Peace University facilitator  My role as a wellness coordinator and champion for Johnson Machine Works began with my own wellness journey 7 years ago.  Since that time I have taken every opportunity to include and encourage work friends, family and community to join me in activities to promote their health and wellness via walks, stair climbs, relay races, running, bike events and the like.  

Demonstrated Success
We look a lot at the overall cost to cover the health of our employees.  It is at least one way to quantify our progress.  While  we have had good years and bad years on our health plan over the past 8 years, the cost per employee is a good measurement of the trend on the cost of care.  Over the past 8 years our average increase in the cost of care per employees has been 1.7% per year.  Over the same 8 years the US Inflation Rate for Medical Care has increased by 4.1% per year.  Therefore, we feel we have gotten on top of some chronic medical conditions our employees and dependents present and tamped them down and saved money for all of us on the health plan we have.

My style is "lead by example".  I try to walk the talk so I am the first one over the wall so to speak and encourage everyone to join me.  It started for me with the Fight for Air Climb in 2008.  At that time I looked in the mirror and wondered who that fat person was.  With our group I completed the first stair climb, as ugly as it was, and really didn't like the way I looked going up the stairs, but I just kept walking, running once in a while, very briefly.  I started to participate in 5k and 5 mile races.  Running became easier and training runs became very therapeutic and stress reducing.  5k's gave way to 10k's and 1/2 Marathons and finally my first full marathon 2 years ago.  By the end of this fall I will have completed 6 marathons.  But better yet I have been able to convert co-workers including several production welders to join me.  We have continued the stair climbs, we sponsor our own 5k, the Flying Anvil 5k, and we have an employee team in the Market to Market Relay in Iowa.

We have actually taken wellness in a different direction than most organizations. We started out with a Spiritual aspect to the program with the EAP, but then 4 years ago added a Chaplain program where a male and a female chaplain visit our employees every week and provide an ear to listen or guidance if asked.  

The second aspect of our program is Financial Literacy education.  We use a 12 week program and every employee goes through the program.  Topics include creating an Emergency Fund, eliminating debt, making a budget and go on to education on insurance, investments, real estate and retirement plans.

The third part of our program is more traditional physical wellness.  In addition to the community events we support and encourage participation in we always have a campaign in progress.  Events range from walking and physical activity to weight management, sleep and water consumption.

Not satisfied with telephonic health coaching we have an on site health coach visit with our employees monthly in their work areas and encourage them to continue the dialogue with her as they need assistance.

Compelling Vision
When I first started the Wellness Program I experienced frustration that while we worked so hard to develop and introduce fun, engaging programs and events, participation grew slowly.  What I realized was that whatever  we do we can only engage employees when they are ready.  Until then we should keep working, sharing, incenting and encouraging participation in events and programs.  Over time we have engaged more people but only after they got "it" deep down that this is something they wanted to do.  We strive to be there when they are ready to make the change and want the help.  So we aren't discouraged, we just still have opportunities.

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Great idea that you started with an EAP and built on that as a foundation. Keep up the great work!

Brian J. on 10/28/2014

I would like to add that I enjoy multi-tasking as evidenced by the picture of me relaxing with a glass of wine while running a marathon. I'm proud to report I completed both successfully!

Randy W. on 10/24/2014

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