Engineering Influence kicks off 2020 with an interview with April Leonard and Lindsay Simone at the ACEC Life Health Trust with tips for a healthier year for you and your firm.

Here are some of the resources mentioned during the interview:


Host: Welcome to another edition of engineering influence, a podcast by the American Council of Engineering companies. Very pleased to be welcoming back the ACEC Life Health Trust. And we have April and Lindsey back on the show. Last time we spoke to them was at our conference in Chicago in October. We've talked about the general benefits and what the trust offers, but now that we're in a new year, everyone's kind of focused on those resolutions that we all make to be better people to lose the weight, get healthier. And you know, everybody's looking and seeing what they might be able to do to prepare for a spring of 2020. So Lindsey and April. Welcome back to the show. What kind of tips and tricks do you suggest that our members take advantage of the new year?

Guest: Sure. And the new year, as you stated, is a great time to focus on your health and wellbeing and specifically resolutions that you have and things you want to achieve during the year. My number one suggestion is always to start and understand where you're at today. To be able to then have very specific goals in mind, you need to at least have an a general assessment or baseline of where you're at now. And so what we typically recommend is using your preventive visits doing a biometric screening, a checkup with your doctor to get a just a full list of all of your measurements and where you're at today also it doesn't hurt to look and do it a health assessment as well, just to see if there's any habits that you have that you may want to tweak. And I think the important part about setting goals is finding something that's meaningful to you. But it's also achievable. I think a lot of people say, I want to lose the 10 pounds or if they had the same goal over and over. So maybe just looking at it in different light and breaking it down into very specific goals that are achievable.

Host: Yeah, I'm, I'm guilty of that. I think everybody is of trying to bite off more than you can chew or, or just keep on coming back to the same ideas. And, and that's a good point. Kind of doing an assessment early on and trying to figure out where you are. Everybody kinda has that tendency to look towards the end point and you know, the things OK, this is where I want to do and they push themselves. But they kind of do that without actually seeing what they're capable of or where their health is at the start. So that's a, that's a very good tip.

Host: A lot of our firms should have already received or they should be expecting a new year's wellness kit from the trust. What is in that kit and what can they do with it?

Guest: Sure. So ACEC Life Health Trust offers a comprehensive wellness program to every single one of our firms that has a medical plan through us. And we really wanted to help our firm get off on the right foot this year, help them to promote wellness and create a culture of health. So to help them do that, we did send later in December, 2019 we sent a new year's wellness kit and it's really just a nice package of tools and resources that firms don't have to create from scratch either or they can just use to get the message out to their employees and spouses about the wellness resources available to them. And add a kit included some things like a monthly wellness calendar, which shows a general health observances during the year. Create awareness around that. We have some cards to help direct people to their online wellness account and to be able to access those resources. And we're doing some promotions just to encourage people, you know, get off on the right foot in quarter one of 2020 get started now versus waiting until the end of the year and setting the resolution for 2021 instead.

Host: Absolutely. So that's, that's a good, that's a good set of resources. If, if firm doesn't have one in hand, how can they get one from you guys?

Guest: They're welcome to reach out to us. We can be reached at our email address, or if you've received a kit and you need more materials, we're more than happy to send more to you as well.

Host: That's great. So if, if a firm wants to take advantage of the offerings that the life health trust has for their employees, what are some of the basic costs for the wellness programs? From the life health trust?

Guest: Sure. Part of the mission and vision and the life health trust is to support the health and wellbeing of our member firms and employees and spouses that are covered by our medical plans. And so towards that end, we have invested in all of these wellness resources on the behalf of our firms, meaning everything in terms of the comprehensive wellness program is available to firms and members at no out-of-pocket costs. And so I always like to say it's a risk free trial of a wellness program. Definitely take advantage of those resources that are available to you. On top of that, the trust funds monetary incentives. So individuals that participate in engage in the program can be winning up to $400 per year, depending on their plan that they're in. And that's an individual. So an employee in South can walk away with that money for their engagement in the program.

Host: Okay. So what - something that we talk about a lot is the idea of wellness. And what that means, not just for the individual employee, but also for the employer. From your perspective in the work that you guys do at the trust and the employees and the, the firms that you serve, how do you define that? Both individually and from the firm perspective.

Guest: It is different for each group. I think wellness is, can be a very customized thing depending on your organization. So we serve a large number of engineering firms across the country, and they're all at different stages when it comes to what they're doing with wellness. I always like to say the first piece in wellness is awareness. So maybe you're not ready as an employer to have a full comprehensive wellness program, but simply just creating awareness around health awareness around the medical benefits that you offer that support health and wellbeing. So if you're, hopefully you're all members of the life health trust, but if you're not, I highly recommend just exploring all of those benefits you're enrolled in and seeing what resources you can pass along to employees. But truly within a wellness program, the intent is to help create a stronger, healthier organization. And I, I don't think I come across many employers that don't want that for their company.

Host: Yeah. And there are a lot of different ways to do it. Like I mentioned to you guys before we went on air, that we're kind of finishing up - in at the end stages of our Fitbit challenge at ACEC headquarters. Which was an idea to kind of just spark out of the staff and, and, and Rose up. And we decided to do it and everybody got Fitbit trackers or they're using their phones and you know, even have a map with photos of pretty much where everybody is on the chart and it's a good little competition but it's all good natured, good fun and is getting people to get out there and walk a little bit more to, to get outside of the office and get active and take the stairs instead of the elevators. And little things like that can help not just individual fitness but then also just general morale and organizational wide kind of wellbeing.

Guest: Absolutely. The more you can create an environment that is supportive of health and wellbeing and more productive, your employees will be like you said, that camaraderie that you're helping to encourage healthy habits. And then there's that team element that you can all encourage each other. It doesn't necessarily have to come from the top down always. But one thing we always like to say is that within leadership, having very strong leadership and encourage people to take advantage of these resources and be healthy, that speaks volumes to employees.

Host: Yeah. And as you know, you've in the past, you know, health benefits in general are one of the top three expenses for a firm. So it's, you know, the bottom line wise it's, it's, it makes sense financially to encourage employees to engage in wellness programs. And then you'll also mention that that wellness plans, especially for younger employees or it's critical, critically important to have those in place to attract and retain employees. Have you, what have you seen about that, that trend for firms to stay competitive by offering kind of wellness programs, and how that's kind of fit into the employment market?

Guest: Sure. In terms of the engineering firms that we serve, but we typically see are very rich benefits packages. There are engineering firms are very generous when it comes to helping take care of their employees and the families that they have. I think it's those added values that really speak volumes to just set your firm apart. So wellness being one of them, telemedicine products, anything that's considered innovative. Those are usually what millennials are looking for. And it's, it again shows that you care about your employees, you're invested in them and in their health. And to your point it could make or break a new hire. Someone could say, well, I'm getting some additional incentives and additional tools and it's a great culture in a different company that can be, you know, a turning point. So really trying to demonstrate that you value your employees is a, can be a significant game changer. And having values added services like wellness and health, medicine, those types of things can do just that.

Host: Yeah, absolutely. It's that changing mindset of, of wanting to have more of a, just I guess the financial compensation, but then also that that feeling of you know, mental and physical wellbeing that goes along with the job. Since it, it does occupy so much of our time and our mind space, we want to make sure that we have the tools and resources to be able to, to to help in those areas as well.

Guest: Exactly that. We spend, as you said, we spend so much time at work at, we want to have that be a safe space, one that we're able to be our best possible selves and bring our best work to the table. So the more that you can create that environment, the better off your company will be in the long run.

Host: Yeah, absolutely. And then you have supplied us with some great resources on the importance of of wellness plans and, and, and how companies can go using wellness plans. We're going to include those into the show notes so that everybody can have access to them. Is there anything else that you want to kind of hit on, on the the issue of what kind of wellness and, and the new year?

Guest: I think the key takeaway is if you're not doing anything as an organization now, it's definitely the time to start considering offering a wellness program. And I mentioned this before, that the firms we work with are at all different stages signed somewhere. That's a good start. Even if it's just simple, see what resources you have available now and start getting the word out because what you may find is there's a lot of people that are very interested in it and maybe even interested in taking over and helping you promote these types of things. So I think just putting that foot out there, I put in that put in the door is a great takeaway to getting started this year and setting yourself up for the long term success.

Host: Yeah, it's a great point. And then I think the, the point of polling in the staff or, or, or getting them engaged is very well taken that a good way for a firm management to figure out exactly what a health and wellness program could be is to ask the staff and to see what really rises to the top is the most pressing issues. And then to create a plan that really addresses those and, and keeps those employees engaged. That's a really good point that you raise.

Guest: I love that you brought up a survey. Having a needs and interest survey to get things started is a great way and having that be an ongoing process. How are things going? We did introduce this. What more do you want? That it should be a two way conversation between you and your employees so that you can constantly evolve your efforts to supporting their health and wellbeing?

Host: Well, this is great information for from owners and employees. Again, the ACC life health trust has a lot of resources available for starting up or improving an existing wellness program. Again, if you have not received their wellness kit contact them at Check out the show notes for some resources on what you can do to set up your own wellness program. And again, you've got to walk before you can run. So don't, don't, don't try too much at the start with these resolutions. You know, longterm success sometimes takes off with a slow pace. So you know, start with an assessment and kind of ramp up from there. So all very good tips to start off the new year. Lindsey, April again really wanna appreciate you coming on the show and look forward to having you on again soon. I think we have a lot of topics that we can cover.

Guest: Happy new year.

Host:  Great. Can't wait to talk to you again. For now. This has been engineering influence from ACEC.

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