Dear HERO Members, Stakeholders and Friends,
On behalf of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Board of Directors and all of our HERO members who are so actively working to advance excellence in workplace health promotion, the HERO team is proud to share our 2017 Annual Report of Accomplishments. What follows are some best examples from this past year about how we are partnering with members, collaborating with allies in our profession and joining with kindred organizations throughout America to advance HERO’s vision: “All workplaces will positively influence the health and well-being of employees, families, and communities.” Achieving this vision depends foremost on how engaged our members are in sharing their insights and success stories. This equates to attendance at committees and networking events, studying together and contributing to HERO’s research, education and publications agenda.
It should come as no surprise that, as a research organization, we track metrics related to each variable in the above paragraph, and we’re delighted that, in 2017, we reached new heights in each of these engagement opportunities. As HERO members, you benefit from our services but also double as volunteers, and you surpassed prior years’ numbers in committee involvement (235 active members) and co-authorship in journal submissions. Between co-authorship with our members and lead authorship by the HERO team, we published 19 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 7 articles in trade publications. Your HERO team also delivered 18 presentations around the country. These speaking and writing efforts combined netted visibility for our field via nearly 3 billion media impressions following our articles, consumer press bylines (13) and mentions. And, no, 3 billion is not a typo, to be exact: 2,992,973,391 impressions! It is this influence and visibility that may explain why financial support to HERO from our sponsors has also surpassed our goals. This confidence in us is heartwarming, humbling and deeply appreciated as we couldn’t do this work without these benefactors.
As much as HERO’s Annual Forum and regular Think Tanks have long set a high bar in satisfaction, usefulness, and relevance, 2017 also saw the highest levels we’ve recorded yet on these ratings. What’s more, we had record attendance at the 9 public webinars (907 attendees) and 5 members-only webinars (117 attendees) with HERO members and professionals from multiple disciplines interacting with leading experts on topics ranging from “Integrating Big Data” to “Awakening Compassion at Work.” We preferentially draw many experts and faculty from our member ranks, so this serves as another testament to how effective HERO volunteers are in moving our vision forward. We have summarized our Proceedings from these events in this report, and we are already deeply ensconced in organizing 2018 events that build on these learnings. Positive psychology, love, and joy were concepts we featured in 2017 with an aim of advancing psychologically healthy workplaces. Wondering how we will build on our learnings from 2017? We were delighted to recently announce that we completed our new HERO website that includes state of the art social networking features and updated membership management features via “NEON CRM.” Our website will keep you connected to our growing resources and member events. Watch for our next members-only Think Tank, “Overdosed,” where we’ll examine how pain management begets addiction and how the opioid epidemic mirrors the viral, desensitizing influence of social media and smartphones.
HERO is anything but a trendy latecomer to these vital issues of employee engagement and well-being and, besides thanking our many longstanding members for enabling this past year’s achievements, this is also a year to celebrate our legacy leaders. On a Tuesday in November twenty years ago, Roy William “Bill” Whitmer was sitting in Suite 100 of an office building on Valleydale Road in Birmingham, Alabama, likely reflecting on the nascent state of employee health promotion. It’s safe to say this was on his mind because that day he signed the articles of incorporation for HERO, an organization he hoped might one day lead in the development of evidence-based best practices in worksite health. The next day, November 5th, 1997, Whitmer paid $26 dollars at the Office of Probate at the Jefferson County courthouse and got HERO’s first stamp of approval from probate Judge George R. Reynolds. Though the long-range strategic plan that is summarized in this 2017 report shows that much has changed over the two decades since Whitmer founded HERO, the essential vision from those articles of incorporation is essentially unchanged: “… to develop health promotion, disease prevention, and productivity research … and to disseminate education about health promotion and disease prevention research.”
We dare say Bill would be quite pleased to know that in addition to the growing metrics about our member’s engagement in leading in well-being, the HERO team has also had another banner year in representing the views and needs of our members. Based on extensive member input on our Five-Year Strategic Plan, one HERO goal we set in 2016 was one to “increase collaborations and partnerships between and beyond HERO member organizations.” To this end, in 2017, HERO staff have been advisors to the National Academy of Science’s “Business Action Collaborative,” to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s “Building a Culture of Health as a Business Imperative” grant project, to the Institute for Health Improvement’s “Business Leaders Hub” for 100 Million Healthier Lives, to the “Global Women 4 Wellbeing” and to the CDC Workplace Health Resource Center.
Another new HERO goal is to “increase Americanworkplaces’ interest in, capacity for and involvement with community health improvement.” Our work in this area, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was detailed in an article first-authored by Dr. Nico Pronk, a HERO Board member and Co-Chair of our Employer-Community Collaboration Committee. The article, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is titled “Exploration into the Business Priorities Related to Corporate Engagement in Community Health Improvement Partnerships” and was co-authored by that committee’s Co-Chair, Dr. Cathy Baase along with HERO’s Paul Terry, Karen Moseley, and Jeanette May.
In addition to influencing community health, HERO’s plan challenges us to “strengthen evaluation and research in individual-level data collection tools.” To this end, Dr. Jessica Grossmeier, in her new role as co-editor of “The Art of Health Promotion” (TAHP) section of the American Journal of Health Promotion, led the publication of the “The Wearables in Wellness Issue.” Look to the details in this report to see the wonderful visibility this issue brought to authors from the HERO Health, Productivity, and Performance Study Committee Wearables Workgroup, which was led by Jack Bastable. Similarly, look within for details about Grossmeier’s TAHP issue on “Healthy Worksite Culture Revisited” which featured leaders from HERO’s Culture of Health Study Committee including co-chairs Kathy Meacham Webb, Stewart Sill and Roshi Fisher along with HERO staffer Emily Wolfe. We hope you make time to revisit these articles because, if you read between the lines, you will grow in your appreciation for how serving on HERO committees can culminate into new ways of thinking, working and advancing the profession as well as your own professional growth.
We look forward to your review and feedback on HERO’s 2017 Annual Report and we encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments or additions you’d like to see in the online version of this report. HERO is a healthy organization due to your involvement and support, so if you see something that’s missing, especially those items you may have been personally involved with moving forward this past year, don’t hesitate to let us know as we’ll be most pleased to add them to the report for posterity. There are many markers of the well-being of HERO and of this profession. We are proud of these accomplishments because we achieved them through a spirit of comradery, mutual respect, and companionate love. We hope that you find, in the pages of this report, recurrent examples of the passion, joy, and positivity that defines and fuels the health promotion profession, and we invite you to continue to use HERO as your platform for innovation, meaning-seeking and joyous engagement with fellow stewards of health and well-being for all.
Yours in Health,
Paul E. Terry, Ph.D.
President and CEO, HERO
Ron Goetzel, Ph.D.
Board Chair, HERO, Senior Scientist, Johns Hopkins University
Vice President, Truven Health Analytics/IBM Watson Health