Public – Private Partnership Gets Results [Video]

We are honored to be featured in a new video by Prevention Speaks, which documents public-private efforts to help Minnesotans live healthier. Click the video to check out our progress!


Fortune 500 employers engage in community health

Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota members Target, UnitedHealth Group and Cargill discuss why their Fortune 500 companies are engaged in public health. This panel discussion and took place as a part of the national Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 14 – 16, called 2011 Making it Better: Creating a Healthier Community Together.


Watch highlights from comments on why these employers are engaged in the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota and working to promote health and wellness in their communities where they do business.

Having trouble? Watch this video on instead. 


Watch the the entire panel discussion session.

Having trouble? Watch this video on instead.



6 ideas for a successful workplace wellness program

Great suggestions on how to help employees get and stay healthy this winter:
  1. Get moving. A simple walk will do.
  2. Encourage exercise. Exercise reduces stress.
  3. Make a fitness goal challenge. Introduce some healthy competition.
  4. Implement an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Check with your health care provider – they may provide one at not additional cost.
  5. Organize annual on-site health screenings and vaccinations. Make it convenient for employees to take care of their health.
  6. Makeover the vending machines. Make healthy snacking easier for employees.

Custom Alarm reduces absenteeism and keeps insurance premiums flat


Custom Alarm employees prepare for a team walking event

Rochester-based Custom Alarm has been a pioneer in workplace wellness since CEO Leigh Johnson banned smoking inside his plant more than 30 years. And over the years it has paid tangible dividends. The company didn’t experience an increase in insurance premium last year and doesn’t expect one this year either.

To help their 70 employees eat healthy at work, Custom Alarms’ executives offer healthy options at employee events. They replaced vending machines with a refrigerator full of healthy snacks like yogurt, fruit and string cheese that employees purchase on the honor system. Competitions help employees stay active and achieve a healthy weight. For the company’s Biggest Loser campaign participants paid a dollar towards the winner’s pot for each pound they gained.

“It’s not a quick weight loss (competition), we just feel it’s healthier to lose that weight over a long period of time,” says HR Manager Dawn Rainey.  Over the 2010 and 2011 challenges, Custom Alarm employees lost a total of 377 pounds during the 18-week competitions.

Custom Alarm recently expanded its tobacco free policy to the outdoors of their workplace grounds, company vehicles and even employee visits to client facilities.

The tobacco policies help employees quit smoking, one of the goals of Custom Alarm’s employee wellness program. After all, according to the American Cancer Society, just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, heart and blood pressure drop. As months and years of not smoking accumulate, a former smoker’s risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer decrease.

To help tobacco users prepare for the change, Custom Alarm’s wellness committee announced the tobacco-free grounds policy six months before the planned implementation.

“Initially there was a little bit of buzz around the office about us trying to control their lives,” says Rainey. “But that blew over pretty quickly. I would say we had more positive feedback, from our nonsmokers.”

Custom Alarm employees can now open the windows in their lunchroom and conference room areas without cigarette smoke wafting in from outside. “It just wasn’t very pleasant,” added Rainey.

The company’s wellness activities have also brought on a significant reduction in absenteeism. Custom Alarm uses its annual associate appreciation event to present “well-pay” bonus checks to employees who accrue more than 120 hours of sick time. “We’ve steadily seen increasing numbers,” Rainey says. That’s an increase in the number of employees receiving the bonus as well as the number of hours they’ve earned.


Livestock feed manufacturer reduces health care premiums by 4% with wellness

Ralco employees enjoying healthy snacks at work

The Ralco Challenge 2009 Walking Program was born when Jon Knochenmus, president of the Marshall-based livestock feed manufacturer concluded that many years of double-digit annual increases for health insurance had become unsustainable. He decided to fight back through employee wellness.

Ralco started with a simple message: walking is good for your health. Each of its employees received bright green pedometers to count the number of steps they took each day. With participation from 90 percent of the company’s 120 employees, the hot green pedometers created buzz in the community. HR manager Shelly Gniffke  even received requests for pedometers from non-Ralco employees.  By the end of the 6-week program employees had tracked a total of 38,241,565 steps, roughly 14,500 miles – more than half way around the world.

Continue Reading …


Minnesota Twist Drill renews commitment to wellness, sees early gains in employee health

When the economic downturn hit Hibbing-based Minnesota Twist Drill, employee wellness programming was among the first things to see the budget axe.

The previous program was fully coordinated by a consulting company, focused on Know Your Numbers biometric screening. Employees voiced appreciation for the programming and were disappointed to see it get eliminated.

Nearly three years later the cry for a wellness program grew louder. CEO Scott Allison, the company’s owners and HR Manager Jeannie Nobens decided to approach health in the workplace again. “We were looking at our rising health care costs, says Nobens. “And we want our employees to be happy.”

Continue Reading …


Documentary: Interviews on Obesity, Health and Wellness

When it comes to information about the current state of health, our documentary Too Much to Lose, A Minnesota Story shares just the tip of the iceberg. Select the hyperlinks below to watch extended interviews with some of the experts we talked to as they delve deeper into the issue of obesity and how we can improve our overall health and wellness. This video was recorded in the process of developing the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota’s documentary, Too Much to Lose, A Minnesota Story.
Continue Reading …


Documentary: Too Much To Lose, A Minnesota Story

The documentary, Too Much to Lose, A Minnesota Story, features a look at the problem of obesity in Minnesota and what‘s being done about it. Footage in the segments below include an in-depth look at the Alliance, and the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which is a nation-leading effort to make the people of Minnesota healthier. Click on the titles of each section below to watch each of the six segments of the documentary. Additional bonus footage recorded in the process of developing this documentary is available. Check out Alliance Roundtable Discussion and In-Depth Interviews on Obesity, Health and Wellness.

Personal Struggles from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Meet Minnesotans who have battled their weight for much of their lives. Find out what it took for them to finally win the battle of the bulge.

Community Cooperation from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

A healthy lifestyle can be contagious, and Minnesota’s communities are spreading the word. From school gardens to fitness centers and health fairs, a good number of Minnesota communities are making big strides on the path to health.

Public Partnership from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

A groundbreaking program is setting Minnesota apart when it comes to health and wellness. Learn how the SHIP program is laying the foundation for healthier communities in every corner of the state.

Wellness at Work from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Healthy employees are effective employees – and that’s good business. The members of the Alliance set an example with innovative programs that help their employees live healthier lives.

The Alliance from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Meet the members of the Alliance, first-hand, in this roundtable discussion that addresses why they’re involved, why it’s important, and how they want to make Minnesota healthy.

The Future from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Find out what the Alliance is doing right now to get this initiative underway and how it’s helping a local charity at the same time.


Documentary: Alliance Roundtable Discussion

The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota brings some of Minnesota’s most engaged and forward-thinking employers together to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Minnesota. Select the links below to watch the full hour-long roundtable discussion with key members of each of the Alliance companies (broken into seven shorter segments) as they talk about why they joined the Alliance, what they hope to accomplish and why we have to act now. This video was recorded in the process of developing the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota’s documentary, Too Much to Lose, A Minnesota Story.

Participants in this roundtable include:

  1. Calvin Allen, Senior Vice President, HealthPartners
  2. Gen Barron, Senior Wellness Manager, Medtronic
  3. Dr. Tim Crimmins, Chief Medical Officer, General Mills
  4. Dr. Marc Manley, Chief Prevention Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  5. Cara McNulty, Initiatives Manager, Statewide Health Improvement Program
  6. Dawn Owens, CEO, OptumHealth
  7. Dr. Joshua Riff, Medical Director, Target
  8. Beth Zenisek, Benefits Wellness Specialist, Cargill
  9. Moderated by Rick Kupchella, founder and partner, Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota

Guthrie part 1 from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Guthrie part 2 from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Guthrie part 3 from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Guthrie Part 4 from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Guthrie Part 5 from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Guthrie Part 6 from MN Alliance on Vimeo.

Guthrie Part 7 from MN Alliance on Vimeo.


Easy tools for staying (or getting back!) in charge of your weight during the holidays

Check out 7 Healthy Apps to help you avoid gaining holiday pounds – or at least reverse all the turkey, gravy and pie consumed this weekend!

Social Times recommends: MyFitnessPalFooducateNoom Weight LossDiet AssistantDiet PointLibra and Weight Watchers Diary.