Anne Polacheck is a part of the wellness program management at StayWell, a health and productivity management company. StayWell employs over 800 employees and delivers wellness programming and services to organizations nationwide. As a Wellness Program Manager, Anne has served in the wellness industry for over 10 years.
1. Professional Development
Anne holds a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Wellness from Benedictine University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Illinois State University, where she earned Cum Laude honors and a National Wellness Institute Scholarship. She is a Certified Ergonomic Evaluation Specialist (CEES), a Certified Health Fitness Instructor (ACSM) and an Intrinsic Coach. Anne's passion for science and creativity lead her down the path to a career in wellness. The most valuable asset to Anne, personally and professionally has been the completion of her master’s degree from Benedictine University. Anne's passion for science and creativity lead her down the path to a career in wellness. The most valuable asset to Anne, personally and professionally has been the completion of her master’s degree from Benedictine University.
2. Demonstrated Success
Anne's most successful program to date has addressed the nutritional needs of her client's warehouse population, specifically with hydration. The Drink Up! campaign was developed and used a sports nutrition approach to build awareness around staying hydrated and energized during the summer months for a mostly male, warehouse population. The positive health improvements from the program were related to increased access to water within the warehouses and hydrating fruit was offered during break periods. Behaviorally, there was a 34% decrease in vending machine sales, thereby reducing the intake/purchasing of sugar sweetened beverages and snacks. Culturally, leaders witnessed the impact of healthy food and beverage offerings on the productivity of their employees and are continuing to improve and increase the healthy options offered to employees.
The framework of the program was based off of the 7 Benchmarks; Capturing CEO Support: Gaining the support of the leadership teams who head the safety committee was integral to the success of the campaign. Creating Cohesive Wellness Teams: Wellness Champions were encouraged to leverage their local wellness teams for ideas and resources on how to best implement the campaign at their location. Collecting Data to Drive Health Efforts: Wellness Champions tracked participation based on the number of hydration trackers submitted at their location and the number of times they offered a hydration event. Carefully Crafting an Operating Plan: A best practice tool-kit and campaign training were provided to the Wellness Champions to help them implement the campaign at the local level. Choosing Appropriate Interventions: The Drink Up! Campaign was implemented during the summer months to reduce the risk of heat-related illness, specifically for the warehouse based employees. Creating A Supportive Environment: Environmental Prompts: The prompts are designed to build awareness of feeling dehydrated and to promote water as the beverage of choice, as opposed to a sugar or caffeine beverage. Carefully Evaluating Outcomes: The outcomes of the program were measured by the number of hydration trackers submitted, the impact on the company vending machine purchase, and positive feedback from employees on the campaign.
Anne is an active participant in local community and client sponsored physical activity events, even winning 2nd place female in a recent 5K! Anne also serves as a community resource, teaching group fitness classes and leading onsite physical activity programs (running clubs and chair yoga sessions, etc.) for her client. For several years Anne has volunteered for the American Heart Association, serving as the Heart Walk event ‘warm-up’ instructor, leading hundreds of walkers through a fun warm-up activity to help kick-off the walk.
Anne's passion for wellness is attributed to her training with the Totally Coached® intrinsic coaching training. The training has helped Anne to motivate individual participants to be healthy, and improve communication skills with clients and in her personal life. With that, Anne believes it's important to look at the picture for the population you are serving. Each population will benefit from wellness in a different way, and they will take those positive feelings and leanings into their homes and the community; hopefully the messages spread to others and the result is a healthy, happy society.
Anne has a knack for data analysis, she has created client specific participation reports, based on age, gender, job type, location etc. The results identify opportunities to increase participation; by using the reports Anne has been able to increase participation by 14%.. The reports allowed the wellness champions to focus on job types with lower participation. This motivated the wellness champions to change their behavior in how they communicate the wellness program and encourages them to reach out to those remote populations in a new way. The reports also allowed upper management detailed information on the participation rates at their locations, resulting in an increase in support from the upper management teams to promote the wellness program and engage the populations with participation gaps.
Anne's development of a culture of health assessment tool, which is able to quantify the health of a culture within an organization (analyzes culture at multiple locations within a company) has not only brought value to her client, but has been a resource for all of the clients that StayWell serves. The assessment scores can be compared within an organization and be used to demonstrate the value of offering health-related activities and environmental tools to promote behavior change and a shift over time in the health culture of the location.
Anne's programming creativity has come through in her implementation of a Wellness Champion incentive-based points program. The program is designed to motivate her client's wellness champions to offer high quality programming and implement healthy culture changes. The system also encourages internal networking, and measures the activities offered by each wellness champion, providing the client best practices for within the organization. Since the implementation of the program, locations offer an average of 3 wellness activities per quarter, compared to 1 per quarter in the previous years.
5. Compellilng Vision
As wellness incentive strategies become more aggressive and focus on outcomes and penalties, the perception of wellness becomes negative and it becomes difficult to leverage the program from an employee moral standpoint. To maintain a positive perception employees need to feel like the program is there to help and not punish. It’s important to give people options on how they would like to address their own health needs and let them be in control of the health outcomes. In the next 5 years Anne hopes to take on more StayWell clients, thereby reaching a great population and helping companies integrate intrinsic motivation, health care consumerism and positivity into their culture.