Emily Kolakowski’s Strategy for Bringing Wellness to Work

Wellness Corporate Solutions makes staying healthy just another day at the office

When Wellness Corporate Solutions (WCS) first went into business, a lot of time was devoted to explaining the importance of wellness to potential clients. Much has changed since then. Wellness programs have become such a standard component of most companies’ HR packages, and many job seekers often won’t consider an employer without them.

Despite all the changes, WCS remains an industry leader by providing biometric screenings, health coaching, and comprehensive wellness programs. Those services are supported by a staff of 8,000 nationwide and more than 1,700 health coaches. All coaches are registered dietitians who provide expert advice to help employees address chronic health issues and set practical goals for adopting healthy behaviors.

Emily Kolakowski, Wellness Corporate Solutions

“One of the driving factors of our company is a commitment to educating people about their health status and empowering them to reduce their health risks,” says Emily Kolakowski, the organization’s chief operating officer. “We’ve positioned ourselves to offer comprehensive resources to do just that.”

The journey for each individual and their employers typically begins at on-site biometric screening events. Employees are scheduled for individual appointments and assessed for vital statistics such as height, weight, blood pressure, and glucose and cholesterol levels. (More in-depth screenings are available for blood chemistry panels, A1C, and cotinine.)

Overall participation rates and rates of various risk factors are aggregated and anonymized before being reported back to employers. A variety of associated follow-up activities—such as working with a health coach, participating in wellness challenges, using fitness and nutrition trackers, attending seminars, or accessing health education resources—are also available.

WCS’s transparency and agility set it apart from its competitors, Kolakowski says. Its ScreenSmart tablet technology is the first solution capable of capturing and transmitting all screening data in real time. This enables the company to provide clients with on-demand information and for on-site event staff to be notified about special circumstances, such as when an expected VIP has arrived.

ScreenSmart also gathers immediate feedback from participants. If someone gives a screener a low rating, program managers and event leads are automatically notified so they can address the situation. “We have contingency plans in place for nearly every conceivable situation at our events,” Kolakowski says. “We also always use our own staff—never subcontractors—to ensure that we maintain quality and that everything is handled properly.”

That commitment to quality is the same for every client, from the smallest organization to some of the largest Fortune 500 companies. WCS has screened more than 1.5 million people to date and has held more than six thousand events this past year.

Throughout all of its offerings, WCS focuses on customization for consumers.  This means the organization has expert program managers design comprehensive plans to coordinate with existing wellness programs, to support clients’ internal cultures, and to accommodate employee needs. No detail is too small. Should participants be addressed as “employees” or “associates?” How can event marketing reflect client branding?

Resulting strategies range from carefully preparing staff to meet desired protocols and adjusting IT architecture, to creating entirely new equipment.

In one instance, a large healthcare client wanted to improve participation and satisfaction rates over previous screening events with another company. One of the challenges was that the majority of participants were clinicians who couldn’t leave their units to attend an event in a different location. WCS built a screening cart that was able to go to them instead. Participation rates increased from less than 30 percent to more than 65 percent, and satisfaction jumped from 80 percent to 98 percent.

WCS also publishes biographies of all its health coaches so that employees who want to pursue follow-up activities after their screenings can address their own personal needs and preferences. They can choose a coach by gender, health specialty, and even according to language abilities and their familiarity with other cultures.

In addition to ScreenSmart, WCS has developed other custom technology innovations. WellConnect Plus is an online portal that makes it easy for participants to schedule screening and coaching appointments and communicate directly with health coaches. If they can’t attend a
screening event, they can find the closest CVS store or LabCorp location, with whom WCS has partnerships for providing screenings. Employees can even download forms directly from the portal for their personal physician to provide screening information. WellConnect Plus can be branded for each specific client, along with customized email and text reminders for employees.

In addition to being responsive to clients, WCS has a strong connection with its own employees. Its daily newsletter includes a “Wall of Wow” where they recognize colleagues who have gone above and beyond to support clients, the business, and each other. Annual awards are given out to individuals and teams who have done exemplary work embodying the company’s core values.

Each year the executive team develops new annual goals represented by an acronym. In 2017, it was BE BOLD: bring your best, exceed expectations, believe in the team, own the innovation, love the data, and drive engagement and revenue. Among other accomplishments, it resulted in the logistics team developing a new inventory management system that tracks event inventory in real time and integrates with UPS.

With revenue expected to grow 25 percent in 2018, Kolakowski highlights the importance of WCS’s culture. “Even though we continue to grow, we’re still a very grassroots organization,” she says. “A big part of that is nurturing relationships with peers. Recognition is very powerful in maintaining those connections and lifting up the entire industry to best serve employers and employees across the country.”

The Commitment Continues

Wellness Corporate Solutions’ commitment to healthy living doesn’t end with its clients. That’s why the company has built its Bethesda, Maryland headquarters to reflect the company’s core value of equipping people with the tools and knowledge to improve their well-being. To do that for employees, plenty of standing desks and treadmills can be found throughout the office so that individuals may stretch and move around, and there is a large communal kitchen space that encourages fresh food preparation.

Photo by Eric Taylor

Alere is now Abbott. Abbott is a global leader in rapid diagnostic tests that deliver the right care, at the right time. Our comprehensive portfolio of tests for infectious disease, cardiometabolic disease and toxicology provide fast, reliable and actionable information that enables better clinical and economic health outcomes.