Health Links (HL): Why is the health and wellness of your employees important to you?
The Colorado Health Foundation (CHF): We believe staff well-being is correlated with our ability to achieve the Colorado Health Foundation’s goals and vision. Since our vision is to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation it’s particularly important that we walk the talk. For example, not only do we follow healthy meeting guidelines, we expect some events we sponsor will use these guidelines, serving healthy food and beverages.
HL: How will you/do you know your program is successful?
CHF: We have excellent participation rates among our staff in all aspects of our program – from biometric screenings to Foundation-sponsored fitness activities – and 90% of our employees participate in at least one aspect of the program. We know from survey results that the program is highly valued by staff. From personal health assessment data, employees have self-reported a 29% increase in physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake. We continue to work with our wellness providers to assess aggregate biometric data year-to-year to see if employee health is improving.
HL: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?
CHF: When our program, Wellness Watch, started in 2009, we were fortunate to have strong leadership support for the program, including an annual cash wellness allowance and flexible schedules for staff to participate. Like most organizations, on-going communications are critical to achieving and maintaining participation.
HL: Do you incorporate safety along with your wellness program? If so, what does this look like?
CHF: We are keenly aware of workplace safety as a part of overall wellness. Ensuring our facilities are safe and accessible, individual work station ergonomics and office comfort are areas we prioritize.
HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace wellness program?
CHF: Workplace wellness programs often take considerable investments in time and money to pay off. While financial ROI cannot be ignored, it’s a long-term investment and success should be measured beyond annual dollars and cents. Overall employee productivity, engagement, satisfaction and retention are all important results of the investment in wellness. In terms of the program itself, strong leadership engagement, communications, and a holistic design are critical. A variety of activities ensures there’s “something for everyone” and on-going experimentation helps keep interest and participation up.