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The Benefits of Wellness in Your Manufacturing Plant with Joan Enoch
Episode 239th May 2022 • The Manufacturers' Network • Lisa Ryan
00:00:00 00:26:13

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Lisa Ryan: Hey, it's Lisa Ryan. Welcome to the Manufacturers' Network Podcast. I'm excited to introduce our guest today, Joan Enoch. Joan has been working with Lift-All company as the HR manager since January of 2004. Lift-All company manufacturers load-secure products in five plants in the United States. Joan has a degree from Penn state in industrial psychology. Throughout her career has worked in banking and consulting for various nonprofits and for-profit companies.

She enjoys the no-nonsense and practicality of working in manufacturing and has a heart for people who work hard for their money to support their loved ones. Joan, welcome to the show.

JOAN ENOCH: Thank you. I'm so excited to talk about something I'm very passionate about - manufacturing and who our employees are. They're hard-working, and excellent benefits they deserve to take care of themselves and their family members.

Lisa Ryan: Well, awesome. Please share your background with us because it sounds like you've done many things before you got into manufacturing. What got you here?

JOAN ENOCH: Well, I started in human resources and, like most folks, ended up initially on the recruitment edge of things. Not too long after doing recruitment and banking. I ended up in the compensation arena. Unlike most HR people in my niche, I love compensation and salary administration. With that came some benefits and just a broad breadth of many different things that I've been fortunate and unable to do over my career.

I started in banking, and after banking went through lots of mergers and acquisitions, of which I was on a team doing some of that. Next, I found myself doing control consulting work for an employee assistance program and working with many companies. Then, finally, I landed in manufacturing, and, as you mentioned at the onset, I like the no-nonsense nature of manufacturing.

We can tell it like it is. We can have good conversations. There's not tons of politics and playing around with how we want to say thanks.

Lisa Ryan: When I think too when you and you mentioned employee assistance programs, which I think is so important, especially considering the last couple of years, with everything that we've gone through. What have you seen as far as how benefits have changed?

JOAN ENOCH: Well, you know, federal legislation has changed things. When the affordable care Act came out in 2010, that changed many things. A lot of good came out of that in ensuring employers provide all kinds of preventive services for their employees. Those benefits are covered on dollar one. Also, obviously during Covid the last two years, there's just been a change in how people orient to benefits. There was a complete stoppage when Covid first hit, and the medical world had to figure out how we safely deliver services. So there's been a lot of creativity around telemedicine visits.

Paired with more focus on mental health, most folks sit back and revisit how they got through Covid. There were some mental health and spiritual changes or emotional changes. That happened for folks over the last couple of years. What is life really about? We're all faced with Covid. It changed things, so it's been good to have that focus.

Not just on our physical health but recognizing that there are so many layers to us as human beings, and how do we take our physical health, mental health, and emotional health and make sure that all of those are getting addressed. Our health care system can do that.

Lisa Ryan: Well, it's not only important from a legal standpoint that we pay attention to mental health but there's always that if somebody has a physical disability, it's easy for us to see that. It's easy for us to notice it and empathize with it because we can see it.

But when it comes to mental health, and we have somebody who is now suffering from depression, or you can't necessarily look at them and see what's wrong, you want to say snap out of it. Put a smile on your face and get back to work, but that full awareness of mental health in the importance of taking care of our employees has come to light in the last couple of years with Covid.

JOAN ENOCH: Absolutely, and when you think about different physical ailments that happened to individuals, whether it's an incident of an accident or a diagnosis of cancer when that happens, there's also an emotional and mental component. When we think about general life cycles, if we're dealing with marriages and divorces and adolescent children and or aging parents, there's a physical component. Still, there's also that mental health and emotional health. And, in some cases, medication can help us through certain situations, and in others, we might need to talk with our best to work through my triggers and how do I, you know, manage those a little bit better.

Lisa Ryan: Well, and it's been interesting to see the changing of the health care that no there is more accessible access to. Number one to mental health, to therapists but also who would have thought we'd be doing what we were doing with our phones with Telehealth know what do you think this is Doc year ago nobody would even thought of it, and I think that that's a huge change right now.

JOAN ENOCH: Absolutely, and I love that, from a federal standpoint or not just federal perspective, but some legislation that has gone through. We recognized, hey, let's try, let's have a no copay for some of those services so that people can get that treatment. Get that connection. Try out what Telehealth looks like telemedicine for physical health, for you know, behavioral and mental health, and it costs less because we're not saying we're not sending someone in their car to drive somewhere to sit in a waiting room. For those services, so there's been some great strides, and I'm hopeful that that continues.

Lisa Ryan: Well, and we're also looking at the fact that many people on the planet don't think anything about a $30 or $50 copay because they got to go to the doctor, and that's just part of it. But a percentage of the population doesn't go to the doctor because of that copayment issue, so giving them the flexibility with Telehealth gives them even more access than they may have taken advantage of before.

JOAN ENOCH: Exactly, and when I think about what we have done from a benefits standpoint in the last 15 years that I've been with the company. We recognize that we have a broad range of employees in our company. We've got entry-level unskilled labor. 30% of our population uses English as a second language. We work 24 hours a day now. We're not a seven-day operation; we're five days with some overtime on Saturday. But all those challenges make it harder for people to go to the doctor, and that component of what's the sweet spot, so we put things together, where we have a $10 copay to see your family doctor.

Lisa Ryan: Well, so speaking of the changes over the years that you've seen, but with the all the different kinds of employees, you have their help you decide what changes you're going to make to your benefits every year.

JOAN ENOCH: While I look at data now. I'm not allowed to see individual health care claims, so I don't know what prescriptions people are on or what medical diagnoses they have. But I get collective data, and I can look at the information that tells me how many people are getting preventive visits and who are not. Who is going to urgent care? Are they going to the emergency room? So we look at all of those touchpoints and try to develop the best way to encourage people to get treatment at the right time, with the right providers. We have a $10 copay for your family doctor, primary care physician, or pediatrician and a $40 copay for urgent care. There are times that that's warranted. We've also structured things where we go above and beyond what's required for 100% pay for some of those preventive services.

We've got employees at all different levels of the organization. They get medical screenings from their doctor, and they order blood tests. And next thing you know, it's coded diagnostic instead of preventive, and you know they're subject to like a $400 bill well, that's ridiculous. It happens across all organizations due to coding and how hard it is to understand it. So first, we've done some things and said there's no copay for your first mammogram of the year because people are not trying to get multiple mammograms. There's no copay for your first colonoscopy because people are not trying to get multiple colonoscopies.

Lisa Ryan: And just the education process because I can't tell you how many of my customers, as well as podcast guests, mentioned that employees would just go that instead of going to a regular doctor making an appointment, they go to urgent care, that is their go-to versus having the choices like Telehealth like wellness. At Lift-All, you are huge into wellness and that education. Please tell us a bit about your wellness program and what that entails for your employees.

JOAN ENOCH: Well, thanks, Lisa. It is something again we're passionate about. It's part of our culture. Our journey started back in 2007, a little bit before the time that wellness programs were the thing to do. I was fortunate at the time that the President of our company, when I went in and said hey, I'd like to spend about $20,000 on doing onsite wellness screenings, and explained that we have all these people not going to the doctor. We have people going to the emergency room. If we do this onsite wellness screening, this will work so our first year. I needed to know what was going to get people to participate in screenings, so at the time, this probably sounds a bit odd, but flat-screen TVs were in. We bought 37-inch flat-screen TVs. We bought so many for each plant location, our corporate office, and our sales team. So if you participated in the onsite screening, you're in a drawing for a flat-screen TV.

We had over 80% of our employees participate. I'd almost say wellness and flat-screen TVs watching TV health. It's not a great connection there. However, that was the motivation to get people in. The second year, we did T-shirts. In the third year, we did water bottles, so we wanted people to trust the system and trust the process.

We learned that people weren't going to the doctor, so suddenly, once they got hooked, they said, " Wait, this is my blood pressure. This is normal. I have high cholesterol. Maybe I should talk to a doctor, and, over time, people started wanting to know their numbers because they wanted to compare year over year. So if you ask most of our employees now do you know your cholesterol level, most of them probably do because that's been part of our culture. Then over time, in addition to you trying to give trinkets, we incentivize using more of a stick approach. We charge a little more for insurance, but you get a credit if you participate in wellness, so the cost is reduced significantly. I went back, and before our conversation today, I went back and looked and said, Well, how have we done on our costs? Overall in the United States, if you look at the per capita spending on healthcare, for the last 12 years, it's gone up about 40%.In our case, our costs have gone up 18% over the previous 12 years.

Well, I went back and looked and said, " Okay, over the last 12 years, when have we increased the cost that our employees are paying, and when have we decreased the price. So in those 12 years, we had only four years where we increased the cost of insurance, and when you think about how expensive insurance has been and how expensive medications have been, we had a couple of years of a 2% increase, 4% the highest was around 9.8%. But we also had five years where we were pleased to go to the employees at their annual open enrollment and say, guess what, you have no increase in your costs. No increase and the same co-pays loaded up to them, which we have a low deductible plan and even had two years where we decreased the cost.

And said you're going to pay less next year, and you've had the prior year, and I know a lot of it is because we've got this wellness program in place, and we have people getting connected to a doctor.

Lisa Ryan: When I think that you're doing the best, though, is your level of communication. In many organizations, the employees hear about benefits on day one. When they hear about them during the open enrollment, maybe it's time for open enrollment to fill out the paperwork. But that constant communication with your employees and even starting you know when you talked about flat-screen televisions. Because employees, when you're talking about medical, they probably didn't trust you at the beginning, so you have to come up with something creative that you spent some money on because back in the day, 37-inch flat-screen televisions were not the $287 that they are now at BestBuy.

JOAN ENOCH: Now they were over $1,000 exactly. It was on. Wow, I can win a flat-screen TV.

Lisa Ryan: But, after they started to see the benefits, but it's communicate, communicate, communicate. And then the little incentive, so it's not like you had to begin with flat-screen TVs and go bigger. You started big, and then you could keep the conversation going from the financial standpoint and from that knowledge. Think about the amount of pain and anguish you're saving your employees because they know their cholesterol and blood pressure, and know if they're at a problem level. And because of your wellness programs, you're avoiding many things that otherwise they may be subjected to.

JOAN ENOCH: Exactly, and again, not just with the wellness program but the medical benefits aside, we've had employees who we cover PSA testing for a man with no copays. And invariably, every year, I have one or two people say, hey, I've got my PSA test, and Sure enough, I have prostate cancer, and they catch it early. And same with colon cancer. We've had a lot that was caught early.

I continually say to our employees hey, I cannot prevent every accident. I cannot even prevent every illness. For some of us genetically, it will happen to us based on what we got from our parents or maybe lifestyle issues. But, if we can get there as soon as possible. Then, we can reduce the pain associated with those treatments and that recovery piece.

Lisa Ryan: Well, even believe that you also provide financial incentives like non-tobacco use and talking with a health coach, so talk about some of those additional steps that are, you know, lifestyle choices.

JOAN ENOCH: Sure, so with our wellness program and, again, I have a wellness committee, this is not me doing all of this. I've got champions out there that. In open enrollments and wellness meetings, they'll look around the room and say you know you're crazy if you don't participate in this. This is a good thing, not just financially, but you'll benefit from it. So our first level, you have to do a screening and complete a rapid survey. And if you do that, you get $400.

Our biometric screening includes normal blood pressure, cholesterol, height, and weight, but we also cover much other bloodwork. Once you do your screening and your survey, you get a score, and if your score is 70 or below, you need to have one phone call with a health coach. That health coach they're available all different times of the day, we've got in there English speaking non, and it was speaking translators available for all of that. They'll go through your results and explain what they are, and then there's a button on the phone or your phone APP or if you're in the portal that you can click, and you can send that right to your doctor because we want the doctors to have that information.

We do screen for tobacco and blood work, so if you test negative, you get $600. If you test positive, you can take a cessation class that we have people taking cessation classes to earn that money. If you need to talk with a health coach in our final tier, you get the point for that, depending on your coaching score. The last thing we do is ask people to upload one document showing that they had a preventive visit so that it can be for a mammogram. It could be your annual checkup with your doctor. Any preventive services you take a picture of that you upload, you get points, another $400. So all in all, it's 1400 dollars a year.

Lisa Ryan: Well, it's so interesting with the smoking cessation because I was speaking at a conference over the weekend, and one of the people there was talking about how they were paying when you had a smoker, and they stopped smoking, then they would test them and everything they got 1500 dollars and then if they continued for a year, or something they got $3,000. But then all the nonsmokers were like, hey, why don't I get any cash, so I think that rewarding the excellent behavior like you're doing.

It's so many of these things. First, you think it through, and it's a great opportunity. Then you look at its ramifications where you're rewarding the nonsmoker, to begin with, and then giving the smoker the opportunity, through the cessation program, to one day be a nonsmoker and help them for the rest of their lives.

JOAN ENOCH: For those that use it, tobacco is hard to quit. Whether it's smoking or chewing, I'm perfectly fine if someone does that cessation program for three years in a row because I never know that that may be at the right moment in time. That may be just exactly what they need to quit that year.

Lisa Ryan: yep, exactly. So what are some of the other needs that you see? What are some of the other things you've been doing that we haven't talked about yet?

JOAN ENOCH: Well, one of the things that I've come to understand, not just for our company, but hey, the United States has an aging population. We've got all these hard-working individuals that are steady Eddie as they come to work. They're of that generation where they'll keep coming, but they're close to social security and retire. Medicare is so complicated most people don't understand there's Medicare Part A, there's a see there's a Done to sign up. If you delay your social security, what does that look like in your income? What does it look like if you have a spouse?

We have an outside company that we've partnered with, and we provide that service at no cost to our employees. It's free. The name of the company is fed logic. They provide that guidance for people, so it's one phone call away you call you to schedule an appointment for you or anyone in your household, and they'll walk through all of that. It blows my mind that we have this complicated system, and people don't know what's available to them.

For instance, someone can retire at 62 and draw on their spouse's social security. Then, when they're 67 or 68, they can change to their social security.

Lisa Ryan: Well, well, I know, to even with Medicare as much of a pain as it is to go through, and you know, good for you for providing that information, but that is something that I've had some people that they want my employees to look at that, as a government handout just like unemployment and they don't want any part of it, because they don't understand that Medicare is