Letter From The President

The primary mission at the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota is to make 2014 the Year of Worksite Wellness in Minnesota. We will collaborate with Minnesota’s Department of Health to produce a series of diverse, relevant and highly visible public events related to worksite wellness that will help inform, inspire and guide employers – of all sizes – to integrate and sustain effective wellness policies into their cultures. Rather than bringing another layer of wellness options to Minnesota’s worksite professionals, these will be designed to indirectly enhance the market demand for people and organizations already in that business.

We are working to build an agenda of activities that incorporates the following basic attributes:

• Publicity. Every activity will be designed to attract media attention at every level.

• Action. Participants should leave each event armed with an easily-implemented way to act upon the information received.

• Follow-up. The website will store all information and success stories in easily accessed formats.

• Equity. All activities will be designed to incorporate participation that represents ethnic and geographic diversity.

We inaugurated this process in early November 1 when we convened 70-plus key activists in worksite wellness in Minnesota for an informal half-day summit at the Capitol. This diverse group included employers, employer organizations, health activist organizations, insurers, providers, health companies, and public health officials. We organized small group brainstorming sessions designed to ensure that participants would interact with people outside their current social groups. The results were interesting, some showed off-the-charts creativity. I’ll post more when we get them organized into a strategic response.

The Year of Worksite Wellness will extend the effectiveness of its efforts by always considering the market needs/wants/deliverables of each member of its coalition.

• Champions. Human resource professionals comprise the primary target audience for all of the Year’s activities. They (or their proxies) will invariably steward wellness policies and programs throughout worksites. It is worth repeating: No element of the Year of Worksite Wellness will make a difference if it doesn’t inform, inspire or instruct in-house wellness champions. Therefore, the most meaningful asset the Alliance can bring to the Year is to aggregate this group. Likewise, CEOs and the Minnesota chapters of the Society of Human Resource Management should receive top attention because of their great influence among HR professions. CEOs

• Government. Elected officials, especially at the state and federal level can enjoy a two-way communication by learning the non-partisan benefits of worksite wellness, while also using their bully pulpit to extend those lessons. Minnesota’s Department of Health provides the state’s most extensive clearinghouse of information, program’s, policies, and relevant contacts regarding worksite wellness. The Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) endows $37 million in grants to public health entities statewide, a part of which must be devoted to worksite wellness. Local public health authorities also provide significant information and leadership.

• Non-profits and government, which constitute about 25 percent of employment in Minnesota, frequently bring a slightly different (and more amenable) attitude toward worksite wellness and deserve presentation of activities that is suited to their situation. Unions may or may not be included in this group.

• Small businesses employ the largest number of people in Minnesota and have the greatest diversity of need. Therefore, they require the greatest care and the most extensive peer-to-peer exchange of information. Third party conduits to them will include the state chamber, local chambers and a wide assortment of statewide business organizations.

• Large businesses probably need the Year less than any other outreach group, since their resources and HR sophistication put them at the national forefront of wellness activism. Our objective will be to provide a podium that enables them to showcase their achievement on behalf of other end-users. In addition to one-to-one networking, the best way to communicate with them is through the Minnesota Business Partnership.

• Allies consist of every organization that has some kind of mission related to worksite wellness. They include: providers, insurers, health associations, and consulting groups.

• National observers include outside groups, with him we have standing relationships, whose interest and endorsement will give us statewide credibility. They include: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Trust for America’s Health, The Clinton Foundation, and the National Chamber of Commerce, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations.

We’d love to work with you. Don’t hesitate to email me with questions or comments.

To your health,