By Chuck Gillespie, executive director, Wellness Council of Indiana

“Wellness works! If not, it’s your programming that is failing you!” – Dr. Dee Edington

If you missed the 2016 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit, you missed 37 AchieveWELL organizations recognized, two counties designated as Indiana Healthy Communities, outstanding breakout sessions, extraordinary exhibitors and three keynote addresses. Each helped attendees walk away thinking differently with powerful tools to act accordingly.

When the dust settled, there were four items I took away from the summit that I believe must be addressed for Indiana to be an even better place to live, work, learn and play!

1. “Indiana does not have a jobs problem; we have a people problem” is a quote directly from our first keynote speaker, Michael Hicks, distinguished professor of economics at Ball State University. Hicks unveiled the Healthy Wealth Wise Index, which provides data that shows a direct correlation between the health outcomes of Hoosier citizens with their education and lifetime earning power. Creating jobs is one thing, but having people healthy and happy enough to come to work every day to perform is a critical success factor, and the health and well-being of Indiana’s citizens are diminishing these opportunities.

2. The tools and resources are available to workplaces across the state to design, develop and manage a workplace wellness initiative, but there is a lack of focus and understanding about what needs to occur strategically. We have organizations that are considered some of the best in the nation regarding workplace wellness, but too many have not tied their wellness planning into their strategic plan. You cannot simply hire an outside vendor to “do wellness.”

3. Employees who are internally tasked with managing their wellness initiative are still too focused on implementing programs rather than assessing their strategy and developing systematic processes to deliver the right programs that will positively impact their chosen metric. Choose metrics that are controllable (hint: There are many costs of health care that are out of your control), impactful and simple to measure. Then choose programs that will help you reach those goals.

4. Your community matters. The biggest influencers on your employees are friends and family. Understand the impact the community has on your workforce. Understand that your next employee will likely be hired from within a 50-mile radius of the job site. Know that the health of your community directly impacts the health and well-being of your employees. Know that the community is equally as important as your employees in the determination of your health care cost increases.

These ideas are not new, but we have to adopt a higher level of thinking to change Indiana’s current health status. What are you doing to change the health status of employees? “Know Your Numbers” campaigns tell employees where they are and where they should be. Does your wellness initiative provide them a blueprint for how to get there? Are you offering employees the right tools?

Look at wellness as a business strategy for making your organization a best place to work – a place where people want to bring their talents. This requires focus on purpose-driven workplaces, corporate social responsibility and engagement by people.