New Workforce Initiatives Launch Locally in Healthcare, Education

New Workforce Initiatives Launch Locally in Healthcare, Education Main Photo

1 Sep 2023


The mission behind a new initiative from Hancock Health may seem unexpected, at least at first blush.

“We’re here to send business away from the hospital,” Dr. Michael Fletcher, SVP Employer Strategies, recently told a room full of human resources and related leaders from across Hancock County. “We’re here to decrease the demand for services. Where there is a need, we want that to come to Hancock Health, but our job is to help people be healthier so they do not need the expensive things that we provide.”

He was describing Hancock Well-Being @ Work, a program that connects employers to the essential health services employees need while offering a range of additional benefits customizable for companies.

It was one of several topics discussed at the Hancock Economic Development Council’s HR Group Lunch & Learn at the Thrive Center in late August. The event, which drew about 25 attendees, also featured a new initiative at Eastern Hancock schools that fosters partnerships with employers.

New rules of engagement

Fletcher emphasized the importance of engagement when it comes to healthcare. Without it, challenges arise in hiring, employee retention, and maintaining a happy workforce. A lack of engagement also drives increases in absenteeism, decreases in productivity and more money spent on healthcare.

But the scenario improves, Fletcher continued, by having a health system partner with goals aligned with those of business owners and human resources leaders, that understands engagement, has wellness capabilities, and is local, focused, innovative and kind.

That’s where Well-Being @ Work comes in.

“Opportunity in our county hinges on the ability to have that healthy, productive workforce,” said Joel Hungate, Director of Hancock Well-Being and Employer Strategy. “Wellbeing is reducing the total cost of care. It draws people in, it gives you a better story to tell to attract and retain talent, it creates more opportunity for our county in total.”

Dr. Michael Fletcher, SVP Employer Strategies for Hancock Health, speaks at a Hancock Economic Development Council HR Group Lunch & Learn at the Thrive Center on August 30th, 2023.

Total cost of care is a burning topic throughout the healthcare industry, Fletcher also noted.

“Hospitals are front and center when it comes to the cost of healthcare,” he said. “It’s expensive to run a hospital, and charges reflect that.”

Hancock Health opened Gateway Hancock Health a few years ago at I-70 and Mt. Comfort Road separately from the hospital so that services can be charged for less.

“We’re creating access at the system level to lower-cost, higher-quality care, because we know that’s what the future of healthcare is,” Hungate said. “It’s not a black box where the healthcare system is this antagonist to your bottom line every year where people go to spend lots and lots of money. The future of health is stakeholders engaged like we are today.”

Bolstering Hancock Health’s offerings are its three medically certified wellness centers and four direct primary care clinics. The wellness centers have 13,800 members and draw over 500,000 visits annually.

“We can move the needle on biometrics, we can move the needle on that total cost of care in extraordinary ways focusing on integrating, enculturating, creating access to physical activity, nutrition, and healthcare education,” Hungate said. “It’s what we do every single day in the wellness center setting, with high levels of engagement.”

Joel Hungate, Director of Hancock Well-Being and Employer Strategy for Hancock Health, speaks at a Hancock Economic Development Council HR Group Lunch & Learn at the Thrive Center on August 30th, 2023.

Fletcher, Hungate and their team are eager to learn more about what companies are spending money on when it comes to healthcare and how Hancock Health’s solutions can help, whether it’s direct contracting for services or corporate agreements for wellness centers.

“If we do this right, and we listen, we recreate the kind of partnership that we’re talking about here – we can build a solution tailored to whatever you need,” Hungate said. “And it’s not just ‘hop on the carousel, here’s the big blanket that’s going to cover everything for everybody.’ Our job is to understand what those needs are, what those pain points are; and we’re agile enough, local enough and innovative enough to build a solution that meets those needs in a very flexible fashion, in a very cost-effective fashion without sacrificing the quality of care that you’ve come to expect.”

Check out the slide deck from Fletcher and Hungate’s presentation on Hancock Well-Being @ Work

Pursuing partnerships

Libby Manship, president of Greenfield-based Manship Consulting LLC, recently became a Career Coach Liaison at Eastern Hancock schools thanks to a grant through the Community Foundation of Hancock County from the East Central Indiana Education Coalition. Her mission is to grow partnerships between the school corporation and employers, prioritize career exploration and preparedness for Eastern Hancock students, and help develop a pipeline of talent that employers can build upon for the future.

Those efforts have led to the launch of a new program allowing students to learn about career opportunities, experience real world environments from professionals within the community, and apply what they’re learning in the classroom directly into the workplace.

The initiative has also started introducing teacher exploration opportunities by sending teachers into workplaces, where they can gain experience before bringing it back to their classrooms and applying it through examples.

Manship is eager to work with employers to engage in career opportunities for students, including visiting classrooms and focused after-school activity groups, providing tours of workplaces, offering interactive experiences, and ultimately placing students into internships.

An employer engagement roundtable has resulted from the efforts as well.

Check out the slide deck from Manship’s presentation

Explore ways to partner with Eastern Hancock schools and students to advance and support your organization by taking this quick survey

An upcoming Eastern Hancock C.A.F.E. meeting invites community leaders to learn more about the exciting opportunities in Eastern Hancock Schools on September 28, 2023 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Thrive Center, 971 W. U.S. 40, Greenfield. RSVP here.

The luncheon winded down both chronologically and mentally thanks to Meghann Holmes, a Health Coach with Hancock Health, who walked attendees through yoga exercises that can easily be done from a desk as a way to relax and manage stress throughout the workday.

The Hancock Economic Development Council aims to host HR Group Lunch & Learn events quarterly. If you are interested in attending or presenting, please contact HEDC Project Manager Connie Schmidt at or HEDC Communications Director Mitchell Kirk at