How did you find out about Health Links and why did your organization decide to join the Healthy Business Network?
We always like to find out what other employers are doing to improve our worksite wellness initiatives. When you have a program that’s been going on as long as ours, it is important to find ways to make our offerings fresh and relevant. Health Links helps provide a fresh perspective.
How does Health Links help your organization?
The Health Links assessment provides an objective measurement to identify our deficiencies and helps us prioritize on what to work on.
Our Health Links advisor was really helpful in helping me think about “what else I can do” to promote the health and safety of our workforce. It has been helpful thinking outside the box about ways to continue to engage executive leaders in participating in our health and safety programs.
What does being a Healthy Business mean to your organization? How does it reflect your organization’s values or business goals?
We’re a water company, so we’re all about wellness. Health and safety is one of our core values and is embedded in everything we do. For example, we reward people for doing safe acts. A good wellness program means you improve the health and safety of your employees, which ultimately reduces overall costs of turnover, worker’s compensation, and other costs.
How does your organization create a culture of health, safety, and well-being for employees?
You have to approach health and safety from the ground up and from the top down. You have to have leaders that support what you are doing, and although they may not participate, they need to provide resources – a budget, a sustained committee, and time dedicated to support health and safety efforts. But you must also have it ground-up: employees must engage and participate, and use their voice to express what they want and need. We have a “no excuses” mentality in wellness committee – for every excuse someone can have to not participate, our committee has a response and an opportunity to overcome that excuse. For example, if an employee cannot dedicate time after work to join a health activity, we offer programs during work hours. If cost is a barrier, we work with employees to find a solution. This top-down and bottom-up approach allow us to really make meaningful impact.
From a well-being standpoint, committees really drive the work we do. We’ve had a wellness committee for over 16 years. Each year, our sustainability, inclusion, and wellness committee’s work together to provide comprehensive and cohesive programs, events and activities. These committees are the bedrock of our success.
What changes have you seen among your employees, their families, or the surrounding community as a result of your program(s)?
Specific to our health and safety programs, we’ve observed that employees have been more engaged in their health. For example, 70% of our employees participate in individual health assessments. Of those, 35% have chronic condition and of those 42% participate in chronic management programs. That’s a pretty high participation rate for public health interventions! Additionally, people that do health assessments year over year are demonstrating reduced health risks.
We are also observing a decrease in absenteeism decreasing, and increase in presenteeism.
Getting at the worker perspective, what does working for a healthy business mean to you personally as an employee?
I am a little bias because my background is in health promotion. But the focus on health at Denver Water has helped provide me with new tools to maintain my health. We have treadmill desks all over the place, providing me and others the opportunity to get in exercise during the day without having to schedule separate time at the gym. We are very proactive instead of reactive. As an employee it makes me feel like the employer cares. I tend to want to give more back to my employer because they care about me as a person.
Have you seen any changes in your life and personal health as a result of your organization’s focus on employee health and safety?
Since working at Denver Water, I am more engaged with my health because it is part of my job.
We have a lot of telework, return to work, flexibility, etc. which helps with work/life balance.
How does your organization engage with the community?
As a public entity, we do a lot of public outreach and events, especially during summer months. As a water company, we are intrinsically linked to individual health and environmental sustainability, and our community outreach events are often focused on water conservation to promote the health of everybody.