GREENFIELD — Some bosses offered gift cards to employees who lost weight. Others reimbursed entry fees for activities that got their people up and moving. No matter the incentive, the goal was the same: get healthy and have fun doing it.
Those success stories were among the highlights of a celebration this week among business leaders and health care officials touting their work to make Hancock County one of the state’s healthiest places to live.
This year, Hancock County is one of two counties in the state named an Indiana Healthy Community, a designation from the Wellness Council of Indiana, an organization dedicated to increasing work-site wellness programs and community well-being in Indiana.
The award honors Hancock Regional Hospital’s work with area businesses, schools and governments to encourage healthy eating, exercise and wellness initiatives among county residents, said hospital spokeswoman Amanda Everidge.
To receive the healthy community designation, officials had to gain the support of leaders throughout the county and involve at least 20 percent of the county’s workforce, or about 4,000 people, in wellness programs.
On Wednesday, the hospital recognized six local businesses that have earned a star rating for their robust workplace wellness programs.
Business leaders are influential in the community, and when they focus on health, that effort can trickle down to their employees and families, Everidge said.
Six businesses — Covance, Inskeep Ford, the City of Greenfield, the Hancock County Public Library, NineStar Connect and the Greenfield Daily Reporter — earned the star rating from AchieveWELL, a branch of the Indiana Healthy Community program.
The businesses took different routes to increase their health outreach to employees. Covance offered weekly yoga classes and treadmill workstations, while Inskeep Ford provided all employees with electronic step counters.
The city of Greenfield offers workout classes, “lunch-and-learn” events and participates in annual friendly weight-loss competitions, said Ellen Kuker, Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department superintendent.
Over the years, Kuker has witnessed a night-and-day change in the city’s approach to getting its employees to participate in healthy activities, she said.
As community leaders celebrated those businesses that have received their workplace wellness rating, Everidge also recognized several up-and-comers.
Seven other area businesses, including some of the county’s largest employers — like Tsuda USA Corp. and Keihin IPT Manufacturing, have nearly met their requirements for an AchieveWELL star rating.
The Wellness Council created the Indiana Healthy Community initiative based on research that ranked Indiana 41st out of 50 states for health four years in a row, according to the council website.
The hospital looked into a variety of community health programs and decided to try to attain the Healthy Community designation because it was the most cost-efficient way to get county businesses — which pay a small fee per employee for an assessment — involved, said hospital CEO Steve Long.
Getting 10 businesses to sign up seemed a daunting prospect at first, Long admitted. But business leaders across the county surprised him.
“I’m ecstatic to be here,” Long said on Wednesday. “Making Hancock County healthier is vital to our success as a business and as a place to live.”