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The ACEC Wellness Champion Forum: Snapshot of our March 4 Meeting

“Champions are the lifeblood of the ACEC Life/Health Trust Designed Wellness Program”


Regular online meetings that support firm Champions are a key part of the Designed Wellness program. Such meetings include interactive webinars on Champion competencies (see recordings here) and training on how to deliver simple “Lunch & Learn” programs in their firm (see recordings here).

We  find that Champions learn a great deal from interacting with each other — sharing tips and insights to overcome Challenges. Earlier this month, we launched a more unstructured forum and invited participants to talk about recent successes and challenges and to also ask for help. Prior to the forum, participants were asked to contemplate these five questions:

  1. What are your biggest challenges?
  2. What has been your biggest success since implementing the program?
  3. Are you getting the most out of the program?
  4. How can ACEC better help you?
  5. Are you willing to “buddy” with another Champion to help each other in a monthly call?

As a result, we had a highly interactive experience that met its purpose of sharing ideas. Several Champions volunteered to buddy up as well. Lindsay Simone, our Manager of Wellness Program says:

“Champions are the lifeblood of the program and the more we can get them talking together, the better. It is one thing to have easy access to recordings and webinars. But, in a pinch, and when you need some quick help – someone to run ideas by – we hope Champions will rely on and support each other. We are definitely building a community. Today’s call was proof of that.”

Champion Interaction and Sharing

Below are some examples of items discussed during the forum. Please let us know if you have any additional thoughts or solutions to help or add to those contributed below.

JanaJana Bloebaum (RVW, Inc.; Columbus, NE) has her champion strong suit in the area of solid program planning and understands that good  planning takes time and thought. Right now, she has the challenge of reaching out to and gaining the engagement of field staff (inspectors)  who never or rarely come into the office. Everyone agreed that this is a challenge. Suggestions were made to create a wellness committee  or host a weight loss/pedometer challenge and select teams and a team leader. (Reminder: see wellness committee tips).

Discussion also focused on really understanding their needs and that maybe the staff does not need a physical activity program, but  something else from the wellness wheel such as nutrition. Jana currently does a bi-weekly email to all staff. Another idea was having  magazines on health diet and lifestyle available to them in the lunch or break room. Any other ideas are welcome.


Clark DietzJoanna Cabaj (Clark Dietz Engineers; Chicago, IL) has been working on multiple fronts to take the wellness program to the next level with a special focus on engaging spouses. Joanna shared that her company tied participation in the wellness program to receiving discounts off of health insurance premiums. That was a big driver that also seems to encourage spouses to participate; participation was required for premium reductions.

Joanna also shared having a wellness committee and having a contact at each location also helps to coordinate the program better and to be sensitive to the needs of local groups.

Clark Dietz also offers 5K Challenges where the company reimburses for registration costs and provides trophies for winners of specific age categories and at different offices. In fact, one of the employees designed the trophy plaque. Whenever Joanna sends out communications to employees, she includes an encouragement to forward to the spouse.

Addressing Specific Needs

During the forum, Tim Bayer (Bayer Becker; Cincinnati, OH) asked about any particular ideas for a nutrition education program. As it turned out, we had an expert in the house!

DES SoftballErin Horwege (DES Architects + Engineers; Redwood City, CA) discussed ideas around nutrition, including: healthy cooking classes, an innovative seminar on how to help children eat their vegetables, fruit available every morning during the summer, and every month they have a healthy salad bar where the company pays for lettuce and dressing and staff brings in their own toppings to share. There is also a healthy Thanksgiving cooking competition where managers are judges. One key criteria is that the meal has to be healthier than the standard version and the contestant has to demonstrate how it is healthier.

This is similar to the television show “Recipe Rehab” on CBS. Erin is also planning on a healthy oatmeal bar for breakfasts. This special focus on nutrition is just one of several key strategies that has led DES Architects + Engineers to be recognized in the Top 10 Healthiest Places to Work in North America.


Tim BayerOne other purpose of the forum is to brainstorm about new ideas that can help all Champions. Specifically, Tim Bayer (Bayer Becker; Cincinnati, OH), who is very new to the Designed Wellness program, thought that is would be a great idea to have a list or repository of best practices organized by standard wellness categories.

In particular, he focused on the ‘program component’ of the “Know Infrastructure” competency, as reviewed in the third Champion Training session (see graph). Tim wants to know what is working in areas of stress management, physical activity, diet and nutrition, and all the other key program areas listed. Everyone thought this was a great idea and we have already set-up ways for Champions to share their ideas (see below).

Know InfrastructureFinally, everyone shared about the importance of timing communications so as not to overload employees and to avoid appearing too intrusive. It is important to find the right balance and type of communications across three areas: Upcoming Challenges, Periodic Newsletters or Awareness Campaigns, and Annual Surveys, Incentive Reminders, and Biometrics.

Everyone agrees that it is best to pace these out so employees are not bombarded but — at the same time — they have ongoing awareness of the importance of health.

Please Join the Champion Community! Share your Questions, Ideas and Best Practices

There are a number of ways that you can let others know. Check any and all of these below:

LinkedIn: ACEC Life/Health Trust Designed Wellness Group

– Email: Send an email to Lindsay at [email protected]

-Upcoming Annual Designed Wellness Survey: we conduct annual surveys that ask Champions and employees for their perceptions and needs. Let us know what you would like to see included in the program.

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