Health Links (HL): What does being a healthy business mean to your organization? How does it reflect the company’s values and business goals?
9Health Far (9HF): 9Health’s mission is to advance health awareness, providing people with the tools they need to take responsibility for their own health. We want to set a good example when encouraging our participants to be healthy, by being healthy ourselves. Our employees need to be healthy to be there for our approximate 12,000 wonderful volunteers at approximately 150 9Health Fairs held throughout the state of Colorado giving more than 46,000 individuals the opportunity to “Own Their Health”.
HL: How has Health Links helped 9Health Fair build a culture of health and safety?
9HF: Health Links has worked with 9Health to find areas where we could improve our culture of health and safety and helped us in setting goals. 9Health has been doing annual employee surveys, but Health Links provided sample surveys to give us ideas of what other healthy businesses are asking. Health Links also provides great resources.
HL: What changes have you seen among your employees, their families, and the surrounding community as a result of your program(s)?
9HF: 9Health provides annual flu shots and biometric screenings to employees and a guest. Employees and their families have made lifestyle changes because of these screening results. Many of our employees participate in our weekly Wellness Walk Wednesdays, periodic recess time, chimes twice a day to remind us to get up from our desks, and other activities encouraging good physical and mental health.
HL: Does your health and safety program help give back to your community?
9HF: 9Health puts out a collection box and encourages employees to donate to food and clothing drives for those less fortunate in our community. Many employees donate their time and/or money to their favorite charities. Full-time employees are eligible for 10 hours of paid time off during regularly scheduled work hours to volunteer for a charitable organization each year. Also, if an employee volunteers 10 hours per year for an eligible nonprofit, a “match” will be made to the nonprofit with a $100 grant. If an employee donates $50+ to an eligible nonprofit, a matching dollar amount will be made to the nonprofit. Volunteering helps our employees feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace health and safety program?
9HF: You need to have support from all levels of the organization and listen to what the employees want. A good way to do this is with an annual survey, but also encourage employees to offer their ideas at any time and encourage them to help. Form a wellness committee to help promote health through encouragement, activities, advice, and healthy food options. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. We have put together a “Points Program for Wellness” where employees can earn points through such things as our Wellness Walk Wednesday, recess, lunch & learns, etc. We offer small awards at different point levels of healthy snacks, gift cards, etc. Once a week, we’ll send out an email to the staff from the Wellness Committee – a fun animal video, encouraging words, something to get your mind working, beautiful pictures, etc. We do a monthly wellness calendar which includes National Day-of events, walk reminders, monthly exercise and safety tips, employee work anniversaries and birthdays. Remember that not everyone will participate in your programs, but don’t give up. Keep encouraging a healthier, happier workforce.
Health Links (HL): Why did your business decide to become a Health Links Certified Healthy Business?
9Health Far (9HF): Our mission is to work with individuals to help them take personal responsibility for their health, and our employees are role models in that effort. 9HF’s mission also fits very closely with Health Links’ mission.
HL: What benefits did the certification bring to your business?
9HF: We began to focus even more on innovative ways to engage all of our employees, and it gave us an incentive to try new things. Our Wellness Committee became even more active and the members are very excited to be recognized as a Health Links Certified Healthy Business.
HL: Has this certification changed the way your business thinks about wellness and safety?
9HF: We already had a culture of wellness, but this took our commitment to another level. We are also more aware of our safety concerns than we were before our certification.
HL: Has the Health Links certification or your wellness program affected your surrounding community?
9HF: The greatest impact has been on our volunteers, who see our efforts to stay well. We are working on influencing our sister institution, 9News, who we hope will become certified soon!
Health Links (HL): Why is the health and wellness of your employees important to you?
9Health Fair (9HF): Our wellness program helps us live our mission. Our wellness program also provides productive, happy, and healthy employees, and helps them meet their personal wellness goals.
HL: How will you/do you know your program is successful?
9HF: We monitor participation in the elements of the program (eg: completing at least one activity from any of five Domains of Wellness 26 days out of 32 days to achieve an incentive of getting Dec. 26th off as a paid holiday). We also track sick time annually, but the most apparent measures are the enthusiasm judged by participation and individual discussion of personal goals by employees. We’ve also already had 100% participation in our free biometric screenings that are done annually.
HL: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?
9HF: We needed to define parameters for what we would include, through measuring interest via an employee interest survey. Then we took time to offer a large variety of activities and “challenges” to see what was most popular. We increased what was and dropped what was not.
HL: Do you incorporate safety along with your wellness program? If so, what does this look like?
9HF: Yes, we have annual CPR and First Aid training available for free to all employees and we do fire drills. Also, by the nature of our work (we draw blood from over 60,000 participants each year) we measure incidents of biohazard exposure and accidental needle sticks and celebrate the low number of occurrences. Training and a very thorough review of whether protocols are followed are the keys to this success.
HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace wellness program?
9HF: For a small business like ours (25 employees), especially, integrate all the wellness activities into your culture (eg: celebrate individual achievements regularly at all team meetings). Consider adding physical activities and good nutritional options to all staff and volunteer committee meetings. Celebrate your staff’s wellness with an annual activity – we have a Staff Fun Day that always includes physical activity options. Your CEO MUST be a role model – not just for activity and nutrition, but also to show that employees have “permission” to take time to improve their state of wellness (eg: show flexibility with your own hours to take time for a mid-day workout).