Andraya Carson: Can Workplace Wellness Programs Fix What Ails Us?

There is always so much discourse about the condition of our country’s healthcare system. Wouldn’t it be refreshing, and perhaps more rewarding, if as Americans, we were to focus as much energy on the state of our wellness?

Some could argue that we are a rather sickly nation. According to a recent report issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, among Americans there is an especially high prevalence of risk factors such as tobacco use, high cholesterol, obesity, and insufficient exercise, which are associated with chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. In fact, 45 percent of Americans, almost half the entire adult population, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Even more frightening, 13 percent of Americans have two of these conditions and three percent are struggling with all three. It’s no wonder our healthcare system is so taxed.On a brighter note, however, these conditions can improve with lifestyle changes. To that end, more and more progressive employers are creating workplace wellness programs that promote, and sometimes even reward, healthier lifestyles.

Corporate wellness programs are nothing new. Traditional programs help employees maintain their health and prevent illness by providing education, fitness regimes and regular health screenings to ensure early detection of problems. Many corporate wellness initiatives even include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help employees cope with personal or emotional issues that may be affecting their work and family lives.

In addition to delivering positive health benefits to employees, wellness programs yield employers significant benefits as well. Successful programs have been proven to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and decrease healthcare costs.

Of course, to be effective wellness programs have to be utilized. Poorly-designed programs can miss their mark if they don’t take into consideration the health needs and interests of the employee population. One Midwestern company, for instance, launched its wellness program by opening a fitness center and implementing a campaign to combat prostate cancer. The gym was a big hit among employees, many of whom already participated in regular exercise, but the prostate screenings were largely ignored. When the company did some after-the-fact analysis, they learned that some 70 percent of their employees were women of childbearing age. They also found that many of their employees were smokers. Obviously, prostate cancer was not a concern for this workforce, but women’s health issues and smoking cessation were.

Conversely, Volkswagen is breaking the mold with a highly-customized wellness initiative designed to take their employees’ performance to the next level. At the company’s new $1 billion assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, newly-hired Volkswagen employees are undergoing on-the-job training in advance of the facility’s production start early next year. As part of their training, assembly line workers are being required to participate in two hours of fitness training each day. The fitness program, which is specifically-designed to help individual workers develop the strength and endurance necessary to meet the physical demands of their particular job, is intended to create “industrial athletes” who are able to grip, lift, bend and push without tiring. (Volkswagen has no intention of instituting a weight threshold for assembly line jobs, but some workers who initially resented Volkswagen’s required fitness training have lost as much as 30 pounds in a matter of weeks.)

Corporate wellness initiatives are usually voluntary, so mandating that employees participate in customized fitness programs so they can better perform their jobs is a provocative concept that could gain traction over time, especially if American’s persistent health issues, such as obesity or high blood pressure, make physical labor difficult or even dangerous. For the time being however, companies are doing well if they can build a wellnessprogram that permeates the corporate culture and genuinely advocates for and promotes employees’ health and wellbeing.

When creating or redesigning a program, employers should try to adopt several best practices: 1.) assess your workforce’s health needs and put them before any personal cause or passion; 2.) consider the whole employee to address all areas of wellness, including physical fitness, disease prevention and detection, and emotional wellbeing; 3.) create a work environment where wellness is pervasive, going beyond the fitness center or health fair to include snacks and drinks available in the vending machines; and 4.) consider incentivizing employees to take advantage of wellness initiatives by holding workout or weight loss contests or offering small give-a-ways for participating in health screenings.

Corporate wellness initiatives cannot fix our healthcare system, but cultivating a more health-conscious culture, not just within one company but throughout our country, could certainly lead Americans to be less reliant on our already over-taxed healthcare system.

Original Post:

John Allen, is President and COO of G&A Partners, a Texas-based HR and Administrative Services company that manages human resources, benefits, payroll, accounting and risk management for growing businesses. For more information about the company, visit Andraya Carson is a business advsisor for G&A Partners and can be reached at for a consultation.


Andraya Carson: 7 Steps to Cold Calling

Hello all you sales people who hate cold calling!!! I read this article and it helped me, so I am passing it on to you!

(MoneyWatch) A reader writes:

Will you share strategies that work best when breaking the ice with new prospects over the phone? I have to make some 20-30 calls within a 2 hour period and most clients are rushed and hurried and I find myself racing to get to the point, leaving very little time to build rapport. How do I build rapport immediately in these circumstances? I am genuinely interested in building a relationship to learn as much as I can about their core issues so I can build proposals that directly address their objectives and needs. What’s the best way to engage them (in 30 seconds or less I imagine), which would cause them relax somewhat so they want to share information with you. If you would be willing to share this, I would appreciate it very much.
Before we get started, though, you need to be aware that there’s a vast difference of opinion, among experts and sales pros alike, about the effectiveness of cold-calling.
Many sales experts think cold-calling is a waste of time and prefer other forms of generating leads. Others see cold-calling as a last resort, while still others see it as a mainspring of any effective sales process.
Later, I’ll discuss some of those other viewpoints. For now, let’s just get the basics down. Andrea Sittig-Rolf, author of “The Seven Keys to Effective Business-to-Business Appointment Setting” is an extremely well-known proponent of cold-calling as a lead-generation technique.
When I spoke with Andrea a couple of years ago, she observed that cold-calling is all about getting the appointment. She therefore gears the entire cold-calling process toward achieving that end. Here’s a summary of her approach:
Research a list of prospects. Before making your calls, research your prospects. Look for prospects who have a similar profile to those who have bought from the past. They’ll be easier to sell. Next to each prospect, note any of your current customers in the prospect’s industry, region, job classification, or anything else that might help you to position your offering. Don’t spend a lot of time on this, just find out enough so that you can pitch using terms that the prospect can understand.
Build your script. Once you know whom you’re going to call, focus on what you’re going to say. Write a brief script (no more than three or four sentences) that introduces who you are, what you do, and what you provide. An effective script asks for the appointment early. Please note that the purpose of the script is NOT to communicate substantive information about your offering. Instead, the purpose of the phone call is to win the right to actually sell to the prospect.
Anticipate objections. Each time one of them materializes, you’ll need to handle them appropriately… and then ask for the appointment. Most objections are common to all sales situations, so you should have little or no trouble listing them out. The trick here is to practice handling objections until the response is automatic. Note: the most important part of handling the objection is asking for the appointment.
Get positive and get calling. Attitude is everything. If your offering has value to the customer, you’re doing the prospect a favor by giving him or her the opportunity to meet with you. Therefore, have confidence in your ability to provide value. That confidence not only helps you communicate more effectively, it provides the motivation that will drive you to actually sit down and start making the cold calls.
Leave a message (if necessary). If you end up in the contact’s voice-mail system, don’t despair. Leave a very brief message based upon your calling script. However, rather than setting a time for an appointment, say that you’ll be calling back on a certain date and time, but would appreciate a callback. The next time you call, ask the admin if the contact is in. If not, tell the admin that you’ve been trying to connect with the contact and would like to know when would be a good time to call.
Handle the objections. Once you’ve got the contact on the line, execute the script. Don’t read it! Put it into your own words, with enthusiasm. In almost every case, you will get at least one, and probably more, objections. Since you’ve anticipated these objections, you should respond to them as necessary and then ask for the appointment again. If you receive more than 3 objections, it’s fair to assume that the prospect is not going to meet with you, so thank the prospect and politely end the call.
Repeat the process on a daily basis. if you’re determined to excel, commit to an hour a day attempting to achieve two appointments. If it takes fifteen minutes to get the two appointments, then you can quit early. Practice this regularly and, according to Andrea, you’ll very quickly have a calendar full of qualified prospects.
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ByGEOFFREY JAMESMONEYWATCH Originally posted on: September 20, 2012, 1:49 PM