1 How is the local economy? What are businesses saying about it?
I think local businesses are cautiously optimistic now that the election is over. The new administration is talking about some business-friendly measures, but again, businesses are waiting to see what will actually happen.
2 What advice would you give to a business that provides health insurance or is seeking to provide it for its employees?
There has been a lot of change in health insurance in the last few years, and more change is coming. That’s why it’s important to ask a lot of questions and talk to your insurer or broker – they are there to answer questions and help you prepare and choose the best coverage for your employees.
In addition, I’d say that it’s important to look at not only the cost of health insurance but also at the value. At Highmark, we offer customizable health and wellness programs and health plans with access to high-quality preferred providers that can save employers on the cost side while helping employees get and stay healthy.
3 What are the most important one or two wellness initiatives that an employer should have?
The most important part of any wellness program is employee engagement.
That starts at the top. Business owners and company executives must visually and vocally support the wellness program and encourage employees to participate.
The more employees that participate and see value in the wellness program (i.e., they are losing weight, eating better, feeling healthier), the greater the return on the employer’s investment.
4 How do you connect with the business community?
I get out of the office and see as many of our customers as possible. You can’t build a relationship and get to know what a customer needs if you are sitting behind a desk every day.
I serve on several local boards that focus on the betterment of the community. At Highmark, we also like to be involved in our communities. We support many local organizations and sponsor events that make our region a better place to live and work.
Board membership and participation in the events that Highmark sponsors are great ways to get to know and work with other community-minded businesses and business owners.
5 What is the best piece of career advice that you have ever received?
I have been very fortunate to receive a lot of great career advice over the years. The advice that stands out in my mind as the best has applications in both professional and per-sonal situations.
That advice is, “There is always opportunity in confusion.” My interpretation of this is to remain both focused and optimistic when challenges are encountered.
Concentration and a positive outlook are key to making good decisions in times when you need to adapt quickly.
Editor’s note: Appearing periodically, 5 Questions With spotlights a professional’s take on the economy and an industry. If you have a suggestion for a subject for this feature, please email Bill Kline at email@example.com.