In 2011, Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (“Diplomat”) saw a need to incorporate wellness into the workplace. At that time Diplomat had 250 employees; Diplomat now employs nearly 1,000 in the Flint area. At Diplomat, we blend clinical excellence with a personal touch – for happier lives and health that lasts. Phil Hageman, CEO saw the need to bring that personal touch for healthier lives back to the employees who offer it to their patients. Diplomat began their formal wellness program by hiring Wellness Coordinator Becky Foerster. Becky came to Diplomat with no formal wellness training, but had been a leader in Child Development, empowering parents to be their child’s first and most important teacher. Becky took her ability to empower people and create a culture of heath in the workplace at Diplomat. She began by creating a mission statement and developing objectives for company-wide wellness. Since then, she has allowed the program to be shaped by offering formal and informal activities for administrators and employees. Her goal is to integrate a combination of activities promoting awareness, education, and behavior to enable healthy living.
In 2013, Diplomat won first place in the Commit 2 Fit / Fall 4 Fitness Video Challenge, highlighting wellness at Diplomat.
I, Becky Foerster, received my bachelor’s degree in business communications in 1994 and went on to earn my associate’s in Child Development in 1998. In 2011, I made a career change when taking on my role as Wellness Coordinator for Diplomat. I had already earned certifications in yoga, Color Me Healthy, and Parents as Teachers, but knew I needed more in order to bring a culture of health to Diplomat. WELCOA has shaped my training. Their membership, interviews, newsletters, webinars and certifications has had the greatest impact on my success here at Diplomat. Through their certifications program, I became WELCOA Faculty in 2013. That same year, for the first time, Diplomat was also named a Healthiest Employers Finalist by Crain’s Detroit Business and one of Michigan’s Best and Brightest in Wellness.
Diplomat saw two major factors leading to unhealthy lifestyles: Inactivity and trips to the vending machines (Diplomat has no formal cafeteria). We determined we needed to bring a work-life balance by providing means to move more at work and bringing healthy food options to the workday. To address these issues I first gained the support from our executive team and set out to find key employees who would sit on my wellness committee. Challenges were created, pedometers were passed out, and an athletic room was developed, complete with cardio and strength training equipment. Dumbbells, kettlebells, stability balls, resistance bands, and jump ropes were added to the group fitness room to allow for full-body workouts. Group fitness classes have become a part of the culture here at Diplomat along with implementing yoga and workout breaks led by personal trainers. We found the most successful initiatives were the most fun. We started by introducing the “Diplomat Mile,” where employees find themselves walking laps of our lengthy hallways. Challenges to “Walk across America” led employees on virtual trips across our nation for a chance to win prizes. “Bringing Recess Back” led to full-body workout breaks, yoga breaks, Wii gaming, Ping Pong tables, pickle ball courts, and 10-minute workout blasts.
I reached out to local restaurants and our vending machine provider to ask if they would offer healthy food options both for lunch and snacks. Our employees now have access to healthy vending options, and food specials brought to them daily by a variety of vendors. We wanted to do more than just provide options: We wanted to educate and help employees who were at risk for diabetes. We wanted to help employees learn how lose extra pounds and manage a healthy weight. We partnered with a local medical center to offer a diabetes prevention program on campus, eight-week nutrition series, and a Weight Watchers at Work initiative. What we found were champions among us: employees who took the programs by storm and made great changes to their health and life. They continue to lead and empower others to do the same.
In 2013 I completed the 7 Benchmarks certification. Since its completion, our program has become more robust. Capturing CEO support was easy: Phil Hagerman not only endorses wellness in the workplace, he also participates. His participation in the Diabetes Prevention Program increased registration and led to ability of the program coming to Diplomat’s corporate campus. I lead the wellness program independently; I rely on the opinions and empowerment of my committee to lead our programs. Most of Diplomat’s wellness program had been activity-based until 2013. In 2013 we moved into a results oriented program by partnering with a local medical center. Together we initiated Diplomat’s Annual Health Fair, encouraging health screenings and, this year, adding health assessments. This partnership will allow us to collect data and implement appropriate interventions. Continually looking at our environment and culture helps shape the programs. Diplomat will continue to lead employees to optimal work-life balance.
I am honored to bring about culture change and positive life balance at Diplomat. I empower others by being willing to share both my success and failures and the ultimate growth in my own life. I not only lead, I participate. My WELCOA membership allows me to stay connected to the latest research and education to share with employees. WELCOA resources are often distributed among employees, along with a quarterly distribution of the Spark 16 newsletter. I feel it is vital to stay connected with community health initiatives. I sit on the Greater Flint Health Coalition’s leadership committee. We meet to not only network and share ideas, but to lead the community in countywide wellness programs and challenges. The best advice I can give someone hoping to become a leader in wellness and to truly help someone create change for their own life: You have to be willing to listen, provide resources, and the follow up to celebrate their success.
When moving our program from activity-based to results-oriented based, I needed to show that wellness was working at Diplomat. I found that you don’t need large payouts to find success in programming; small incentives, creativity, and ways to show you care continually bring about change. That change brings success stories and testimonials. As more and more employees came to me with their success stories, I knew I had to share them with not only the executive team, but our staff as a whole. I called them the first of many “Wellness Champions.” I scheduled photo shoots and with the help of our Marketing department, created posters of their testimonials. These posters now shine throughout corporate headquarters and are highlighted in our corporate newsletter. The result: Our “champions” felt celebrated and now lead many efforts for continued programs. Ultimately, the people embracing change create the culture of health that will not only improve the health of our employees but the community we live in.
At Diplomat, there is a motto we use internally: “Be a Force for Good.” With the right approach, Diplomat can give both our patients and our employees “more moments, more milestones, and more memories in the making.” (This comes straight from our company philosophy.) We live in a society where stress, inactivity, and portion distortion consumes the media, our schools, and households. As the promotion of health and wellness appears to be an uphill battle, it is vital to our industry to network and share ideas while we take our health and wellness to the next level. With each step, each success, we can create not only a culture of change in the workforce, but in our communities as a whole. Over the next five years, it is my goal to continue to find ways to improve my workplace, community, and home; to lead others, to be the change, to be a force for good.