A few months ago, as I was taking photos of my third daughter in her royal-blue prom dress, I marveled at the glamorous young ladies in their strapless gowns and their handsome escorts in black tuxedos, matching vests and ties. They exude health and fitness. It's easy to do that when you are 18.

In a few months, my own high school class will be celebrating our 30-year reunion. Eighty-one students graduated from our class in 1981. Sadly, just 73 remain. At my senior prom, I never could have imagined that eight of my classmates would die before reaching their 40th birthday.

We lost three classmates before our five-year reunion in separate accidents: car, motorcycle and farming. We lost two to drug overdoses, one to heart disease and one to cancer. The contributions those member of the class of '81 might have made to society is immeasurable.

I hope for better for my daughter's Class of 2011. One thing they can expect as they enter the workforce is that their employers almost certainly will place a greater employer focus on these young employees' health and well-being. This focus is not only for lowering claims costs, but aimed at improving absenteeism and quality of life.

More interest in combining health fairs with open enrollment

As we approach the annual open enrollment period for most companies, we are finding more and more interest in tying a health and wellness fair into the annual open enrollment as a method of engaging employees in healthy activities.

This month's checklist (see page 14) focuses on planning and implementing an employee health fair. In addition to basic health and wellness programs, some employers will also offer biometric screenings that measure blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and, in some cases, body mass index.

Contributing Editor Laurie S. Miller is president of Miller, Buettner & Parrot, Inc., an employee benefits consulting firm in Rockford, Ill. The firm consults with over 50 public entities and also has a large corporate practice. She holds an MBA from Northern Illinois University and a BA from Eastern Illinois University. Miller has served as a benefits consultant for 16 years. Prior to benefits consulting, Miller worked in hopsital marketing and public relations and started her career as a newspaper and television journalist. She can be reached at lmiller@mbbenefits.net.

Health fair checklist

Phase 1: 120 days prior to event
• Select planning committee.
• Identify and assign planning committee responsibilities.
• Identify the target audience.
• Select date and time for health fair.
• Reserve the location, tables, chairs and other exhibitor needs.
• Select a theme.
• Identify activities and contact vendors.
• Determine the budget.

Phase 2: 90 days prior to event
• Secure commitments from vendors.
• Secure volunteers.
• Start a "Save the Date" publicity campaign.
• Develop posters, email blasts and other publicity for employees. 

Phase 3: 45 days prior to event
• Provide written confirmation to vendors regarding details of the event, including set-up and tear down.
• Secure prizes, decorations, goodie bags and other giveaways.
• Begin publicity campaign.

Phase 4: 30 Days prior to event
• Continue publicity campaign.
• Finalize volunteer staffing.
• Determine final booth locations, exhibits or classroom utilization.
• Finalize prizes and giveaways.
• Make a map for participants and vendors.
• Reserve carts, audio visual equipment, etc.
• Reserve trash receptacles.
• Start compiling supplies such as tape, scissors, etc.
• Finalize vendor and volunteer list with contact information/cell phone numbers in case these are needed the day of the event.

Phase 5: Day before the fair
• Set up tables, booths, chairs, classrooms.
• Set up the registration table, including sign-in sheets including addresses, email addresses and phone numbers.
• Have maps ready to hand out.
• Set up the food area - refreshments for both participants and vendors.

Phase 6: Day of the fair
• Set up as needed at least one hour prior to start time.
• Direct and instruct volunteers.
• Troubleshoot as needed.
• Collect evaluations, clean up and estimate attendance immediately following the health fair.

Phase 7: After the health fair
• Send thank you notes to all exhibitors and volunteers.
• Tabulate evaluation results.
• Determine and document possible improvements for next year.

Contributing Editor Laurie S. Miller is president of Miller, Buettner & Parrot, Inc., an employee benefits consulting firm in Rockford, Ill. The firm consults with over 50 public entities and also has a large corporate practice. She holds an MBA from Northern Illinois University and a BA from Eastern Illinois University. She can be reached at lmiller@mbbenefits.net.

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