When DaimlerChrysler worked with the United Autoworkers' Union to develop their National Wellness Program, strategy was key.
Wellness Advisory Council
The Wellness Advisory Council includesrepresentatives of DaimlerChrysler management, UAW, and health-care and fitnesssuppliers. It meets quarterly at corporate headquarters to discuss strategies,problems, and outcomes. The council develops the overall guidelines andframework for the wellness program. It sets the standards, designs the program,and plans the budget. Everyone on the team benefits from improved employeewellness, which creates an atmosphere that is productive rather thanadversarial.
On-site wellness coordinators
The StayWell Company manages programsat 26 DaimlerChrysler sites. The American Institute of Preventive Medicinemanages seven. On-site coordinators are responsible for administering theprogram within the framework outlined by the advisory council. They then developactivities to target health concerns or high-risk areas at their locations. If asite has a large number of employees with high cholesterol, for example, thehealth-care coordinator delivers screenings and activities to help diminish theproblem.
Constant, informal interaction withemployees encourages a high rate of participation in the seminars and workshops.Site managers communicate with each other frequently via telephone and e-mail.They share ideas and challenges and discuss ways to improve their program.
Volunteer employee delegates helppromote wellness activities in their work groups. These delegates helpdistribute promotional material and inform their colleagues abouthealth-promotion and risk-prevention seminars, workshops, and campaigns at theirsites. They also provide feedback to the Wellness Advisory Council. Word ofmouth is essential and the program standard is 18 participants per session.
These delegates also promote site-waycampaigns, which help to make health promotion and risk prevention fun.Employees might track their eating habits throughout the day and earn vouchersto redeem for health-related items like pedometers or "veggie friends"stuffed animals.
Effective measurement mechanisms arekey to the partnership, because they uphold the case for the program. Managementwants to see the return on investment, including increased employee satisfactionand lower health-care costs. UAW aims to provide employees with a benefit thatimproves their work lives. The health and fitness suppliers want to strive todeliver effective programs and create benchmark wellness initiatives.
Health-risk assessments are a keycomponent of the program. Voluntary questionnaires assess factors such asstress, diet, fitness, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.Employee-satisfaction surveys measure the success of the programs. Employeeparticipation is also carefully tracked.
The DaimlerChrysler/UAW NationalWellness program has been the subject of several studies. The University ofRochester study involved 38,318 employees from 10 sites. Results showed thatcompletion of the health-risk assessment is associated with significant costreductions. Research not only helps to evaluate the program's effectiveness butalso is the basis for developing improved wellness approaches.
The DaimlerChrysler/UAW wellnessprogram has applied for and won several awards. These accomplishments help tounify and celebrate the efforts of all parties involved. The program has won the2000 C. Everett Koop award, 29 WELCOA gold-medal awards, and the 1997 Governor'sCouncil on Physical Fitness award, and was named the 1997 Healthiest CorporateCafeteria by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.