By Chuck Gillespie, executive director, Wellness Council of Indiana

On February 5, the Wellness Council of Indiana partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Indiana Chamber Foundation to host the Indiana Health Means Business Forum. During the half-day event, leaders from across the state came together to answer the following question: How can Indiana continue its trend of being a great place to start and run a business when our health rankings are in line with Third World countries?

Jim Clifton, chairman of the board for Gallup, states that the biggest deterrent to creating good new jobs is the high cost of health care. Forward-thinking and successful economic development professionals, business executives and government leaders will focus their community’s attention to becoming a place where health care gets reinvented as well-care.

As a byproduct, these communities where well-care happens will be the future winners for creating good new jobs. After payroll expenses, the largest cost for most workplaces is health care. Just as manufacturers shift production to low-cost manufacturing centers, industries will be attracted to high-value health care centers.

Is Indiana a high-value health care center? I’d say that we have the foundation, but lack the commitment. We need businesses throughout Indiana to understand that we must align our health and well-being with economic growth and development. Gallup’s research indicates that the No. 1 reason for stifling job growth is high health care costs. Companies that focus on employees’ well-being are seeing a positive impact through lower absenteeism, lower turnover and lower health care costs. What is the difference between these companies and your initiative’s impact? Chance are, they are these three specific items:

  1. There is a lack of focus. How many hours per week do you spend focusing on making sure your employees are being treated well, have the resources they need to do their jobs and have been trained properly? How many hours per week do your wellness champions get to work on managing a wellness initiative?
  2. There is a lack of commitment. The best employers with the most robust wellness initiatives champion them from the top; it’s what’s expected as part of the management team’s performance metrics. They might outsource to the same vendor you do, but have committed time and resources internally to building a wellness strategy that works within their organization.
  3. There is a lack of comprehension. For most employers, wellness equates to nutrition, physical activity and disease management. While important, these three tactics comprise only one of the five essential elements of well-being according to Gallup. What strategies have you developed and implemented to align with your company’s mission?

Join our movement by getting involved with the Indiana Healthy Community Initiative to not only make Indiana a state that works, but a state where people want to live, work and play! Why? Because health means business and we are all in the business of health!