For Elizabeth Main, like many Penn staff and faculty, her Be in the Know experience started simply enough: with a biometric screening.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to keep up with things like my cholesterol and blood pressure very easily,” says Main, the sustainability coordinator at Facilities and Real Estate Services, of her first encounter with the screenings.
But then she started digging a bit deeper and found “Bonus Actions” aplenty that she says, frankly, she was doing on her own anyway. Still, she was impressed with the number of options and the breadth of wellness areas they covered.
“They weren’t all nutrition and exercise,” she says.
Some actions that stood out to her addressed sleeping well, others tackled stress management. And many, in the StayWell category of online options, now comfortably fit into her busy schedule as a full-time staffer and graduate student.
Other actions marked new horizons for her.
“Some of the things I would have done anyway, like a vision screening or a flu shot, but others I may not have if it weren’t for the incentive with Be in the Know—a 21-day meditation challenge, the Sleep Well challenge, things like that were opened up to me because of it.”
“A lot of them, you get out of it what you put into it.”
She has since become a “VIP” honoree in the initiative, earning enough points—at least 350 total campaign points—from her Bonus Actions to receive a free gift and participate in a luncheon for her and other high-points-earning VIPs. (For example, she received a free pullover sweatshirt.)
By the numbers: 2018-2019
At a glance, Be in the Know is a wellness campaign for staff and faculty to engage in their health and focus on their overall well-being. Participants start by having a free and confidential Biometric Screening completed that captures metrics like blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and then follow up with the StayWell Online Health Assessment to earn $100, minus applicable payroll taxes. (Additional points are paid out in 50-point increments.)
More points can be earned, then, by completing any number of tasks that qualify as “Bonus Actions.” Among them: preventative health options, like a dental screening exam or colonoscopy; wellness activity options, like nutrition counseling or a series of mindfulness courses; physical activity options, like self-reported biking to work; and StayWell Online Program options, like a financial well-being learning series or telephonic health coaching.
These efforts ultimately aim to encourage staff and faculty to think of wellness holistically and as a community endeavor.
“We are extremely fortunate that Penn has made wellness a top priority for all of campus. Whether you are staff, faculty, or a student, the number of resources devoted to our well-being is extraordinary,” says Chris Hyson, senior health and wellness specialist in the Division of Human Resources. “The University recognizes the importance of prevention, holistic health, support systems, and campus culture, and how we as a community can promote wellness together.”
New this year, Hyson adds, are additional ways to gain points: a refer-a-friend bonus for both the returning person referring and the person referred for new participation in Be in the Know, a Sleep Well Challenge and Weight Management Learning Series, a 30-Day Wellness Challenge that starts in January, and a Dexascan bone density screening. Also new is the campaign’s timing, with an end date of June 30, 2020, two months earlier than usual and now in line with the University’s fiscal year.
The most important step for beginners: getting the Biometric Screening.
“A biometric screening provides key indicators of your current state of health. We encourage faculty and staff to complete one as it establishes a health baseline that can be used to evaluate risk for a variety of health-related issues, especially those which can be prevented or managed through early detection and lifestyle changes,” Hyson says. “Follow-up with a personal physician may be recommended, which can help cultivate a valuable doctor-patient relationship moving forward.”
The final round of Biometric Screenings on campus for fall take place Tuesday, Nov. 26, at Fagin Hall. Registration is open. More screenings will take place after winter break.