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Healthy Workplace Award Winners!


The first week of April was National Public Health Week. To celebrate, Washtenaw County Public Health selected five local businesses for their investment in employee health to receive the 2013 Healthy Workplace Award.

The Healthy Workplace Awards recognize small and large businesses that are promoting healthy behaviors in the workplace, such as physical activity or healthy eating, through wellness programs or other strategies. Since employees spend a huge part of their day at work, it’s easier to follow through on healthy habits and weight loss efforts if these can be practiced throughout the workday with the help of wellness programs. Employers also benefit when their employees are healthy, as this can lead to lower health care costs.

Winners of the 2013 Healthy Workplace Award

  • Bank of Ann Arbor
  • City of Ann Arbor
  • Growing Hope
  • Kaiser Optical Systems, Inc.
  • Whole Foods Market

These organizations are all offering creative ways to encourage their employees to make healthier choices - from offering incentives, providing resources, supporting group efforts and simply just making it fun!


Tips for Success

  • Get support from the top. James Miller, Director of Human Resources at the Bank of Ann Arbor advises, "Make certain that your program is supported and led by senior leadership."
  • Find and use "Wellness Champions" in your organization. Linda Reiher, Senior Systems Engineer and Wellness Champion at Kaiser Optical Systems says, "Our site has two employees who serve as Wellness Champions to help facilitate and deploy the corporate wellness initiatives."
  • Ask for employee feedback. Casey VanNest of Growing Hope advocates for surveying staff. "Staff were able to give their recommendations . . . to help them achieve their wellness goals such as classes or on-site health screenings and workshops. They also gave their opinions on topics they would be interested in learning more about." She concludes, "Listen to your staff. You may be surprised at what they have to say."

Return on Investment

National Public Health Week is observed annually during the first week of April. This year's theme was Public Health's return on investment, or ROI: "Public Health is ROI - Save Lives, Save Money." Workplaces that invest in employee health improve productivity; reduce the risk of chronic illness; and ultimately, save money.

"Our efforts to promote wellness in the workplace are having positive benefits to our cost structure," notes Miller. "Even with the exponentially rising cost of healthcare, our year-over-year health care costs per employee have remained flat."

Healthcare costs will undoubtedly continue to rise, and unhealthy behaviors and resulting illnesses are contributing to these costs. In Washtenaw County, the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese has increased significantly over time. Worksite wellness programs offer a promising approach to curbing this trend by integrating regular physical activity or other healthful behaviors into the workday.

Images of the Winners

Bank of Ann Arbor

(L) Richard Fleece, Health Officer, Washtenaw County Public Health; (R) James Miller, VP & Director of Human Resources, Bank of Ann Arbor

City of Ann Arbor

(L) Richard Fleece, Health Officer, Washtenaw County Public Health; (C) Kelly Beck, Employee Benefits Supervisor; (R) Jessica Bueter, Employee Benefits Coordinator, City of Ann Arbor

Growing Hope

(L) Richard Fleece, Health Officer, Washtenaw County Environmental Health; (R) Casey Van Nest, Operations Manager, Growing Hope

Kaiser Optical

(L) Richard Fleece, Health Officer, Washtenaw County Public Health; (C) Linda Reiher, Sr. Systems Engineer; (R) Charlene Cach, Customer Service Manager, Kaiser Optical Systems, Inc.

Whole Foods

(L) Richard Fleece, Health Officer, Washtenaw County Public Health; (R) Susan Bellinson, Marketing Director, Whole Foods Market

Congratulations to all the winners!

For questions about the Healthy Workplace Awards, please contact Kathy Fellabaum, Registered Dietitian and Health Educator with Washtenaw County Public Health, at 734-544-2969 or

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