Abundant Energy, Better Sleep & A Gracious Spirit

POET’s new wellness initiative is benefitting team members in many aspects of their lives.

Our vision is to build stronger families and communities through the health, spirit and vitality of our team members. This is how Melissa Ellefson, Wellness Director for POET, describes POET’s new initiative – Energy for Life.

POET recently incorporated a company-wide wellness initiative. Spearheaded by Jeff Broin, Founder and Executive Chairman of POET, the new initiative incorporates a well-rounded view of wellness as it relates to people’s real-life experiences. Broin and his family have spent the last several years improving their own health through this well-rounded approach. After much success, Broin was inspired to emphasize health throughout POET.

“After understanding all of this, I felt it was important to provide our team members and their families, who we care very much about, the resources to help them with their personal health goals,” says Broin.

In July, the time was right and POET reached out to Ellefson to develop and initiate the program for the team.

“When people talk about wellness, most think about working out,” says POET Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lautt. “That’s a misconception, so we’ve really broadened our perspective. It’s about mind, body and spirit. And we’re going to put the education, the tools and the awareness in front of them and hopefully it can turn into healthier and happier team members.”

Ellefson set to work developing the four components that became the building blocks for the Energy for Life initiative.

To incorporate these components, Ellefson had the unique challenge of serving 27 plants in 7 states.

“The first thing I did was get my finger on the pulse of the POET culture to understand what the day-to-day activities were for our team members out in the plants and our corporate offices,” she says.

To help spread the word on wellness, Ellefson relies on wellness teams at every POET location. Though she has a consistent travel schedule to visit the plant locations, she can’t be in 27 places at once.

She determined a Team Energy Leader at each location. These leaders possess a passion for wellness and the health and well-being of their co-workers. Ellefson provides them with educational materials and programs to help them in their roles. She also sends out timely emails relevant to any given team member’s day-to-day concerns.

What are some healthy recipes that will fill up my 6 person family? Check out Ellefson’s Menu Monday emails.

What are some ways to increase the good bacteria in my gut? Reference Ellefson’s Wellness Wednesday email from September 24.

How can I speed up my slow metabolism? Ellefson had the answer in an FAQ Friday email.

One benefit that POET has rolled out to its team members is free onsite health screenings. Every team member at every POET location is now able to have an annual blood and biometric screening and one-on-one health consultation.

This provides a starting point in their journey toward a healthier self.

POET team members are focusing on their nutrition and spiritual well-being, and although physical fitness isn’t the main component of Energy for Life initiative, it does play an important role. Sometimes the hardest part of getting a workout in is getting to the gym. So POET is bringing the gyms to their team members. The POET headquarters in Sioux Falls has an “Energy Center” for its team members and by the end of 2015, it is the goal that every plant will have have its own Energy Center, too.

“We are very excited about this new benefit,” Ellefson says.

Good luck on coming up with excuses to skip the gym now, right? Team members at POET have welcomed the focus on their well-being.

“It’s been really fun to see how everyone has embraced this,” says Aleigh Beaman, Environmental Health & Safety Specialist, POET Biorefining – Corning, Iowa. “In the past, we’d bring in breakfast pizza for safety meetings and doughnuts for safety trainings – now, I bring over fresh fruit and it’s gone over really well.”

Along with health and nutrition, the biorefinery in Corning is very focused on the ‘Inspire’ component of Energy for Life. Beaman says team members actively support the Corning community in a variety of ways.

“We adopt a family every Christmas,” she says. “That’s really good for everyone’s spiritual well-being.”

In the short time since Energy for Life has been implemented, success stories have been coming out of the woodwork.

“Well, what can I say, I had poor eating habits,” says Kevin Krier, POET’s Senior Truck Distribution Manager and admitted snacker. “Just after Labor Day I went to the doctor and found out I had high blood pressure and he says, ‘You’re over-weight’ and I said, ‘Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.’ The trip to the doctor, that was the turning point, along with all the great ideas POET has supplied me with. I’ve never felt better in my life.”

In Krier’s case, so far – so great. In the four months since he took to heart his doctor’s warnings – and started using all the tools provided by Energy For Life – Krier has lost 40 pounds toward a goal weight of 170 pounds.

“I can sure tell the difference,” he says. “Best thing is, I had to buy some new clothes – for the right reasons, instead of going to the store and get a little bigger waist size.”

“I believe one of our greatest callings here on earth is to care about others,” says Broin. “POET’s health initiative is an example of how we are doing our best to improve the lives of our team members and their families.”


You can change the course of your health.
“This is the mind and the spirit aspect of our program,” Ellefson says. “I truly believe that you can’t heal your body if your soul needs attention. Many of our messages focus on gratitude and forgiveness. We’ve been given much and for that we should be thankful. It is too easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than to enjoy what we do have.”

Treat your body with love and kindness.
“When you love something, you nurture it. That is the focus behind the fitness and nutritional component of Energy for Life,” Ellefson explains. “We treat our bodies with kindness by stretching and strengthening daily, finding rest and relaxation, and eating whole, nourishing food.”

Identify and reduce the toxic load on your body.
“We could be doing everything else right, but if you’re unknowingly living among toxins – environmental or chemical – you may still feel sick, sad, and tired. We educate team members with ways to protect themselves and their families from common toxins,” says Ellefson.

Be an example and serve others.
“It’s a focus on having a servant’s heart through volunteerism and community outreach. It’s getting involved in our communities, being a good neighbor, and giving back,” she adds.




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