Health Links [HL]: What does being a Healthy Workplace mean to your organization?
Denver Public School [DPS]: At DPS we focus on the whole employee and the whole student. We believe that happy and healthy individuals are able to succeed. We recognize that wellness is hard and can take many different forms. Our programming aims to meet our team members where they are in their wellness journey. DPS offers a comprehensive wellness program that supports physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and financial well-being.
Given the size and complexity of our organization, we’ve partnered with external groups in the community to offer programming across DPS sites during both school and after school hours, and on weekends. This strategy supports our efforts to build a culture that is inclusive of all employees and their wellness journeys. DPS is constantly striving to find new ways in which we can support the wellness and healthy habits of our team members.
HL: How does your organization create a culture of health, safety, and well-being for employees?
DPS: To provide relevant and necessary wellness programming at the school and department level, we rely on our wellness champions. Wellness champions are exemplary. In the 2018-19 school year, we had over 100 wellness champions supporting more than 15,000 employees! Wellness champions help to understand the unique needs of their teams. They work with wellness staff to provide their teams with support, resources, and programming. A few recent examples of their work include turning a faculty lounge into a wellness center, offering on-site exercise classes, facilitating a variety of wellness challenges, and purchasing standing desks. In addition, this year our wellness champions helped create a Marie-Kondo challenge! This initiative encouraged mindfulness and gratitude by challenging individuals to declutter their homes, become aware of which items they use, and donate items to their local communities.
HL: How has Health Links helped your organization?
DPS: Health Links has provided DPS with solid data and a foundation for best practices. They have provided valuable information on innovation and trends in the wellness field which have helped us anticipate employee needs and provide quality resources and support. Health Links also delivers information and resources to us in a way that is easy to implement and integrate into our existing program. Through the Health Links Assessment, we’ve also been able to identify areas for program improvement. As a result of employee feedback, we recently brought in financial support resources for employees, increased focus on our employee assistance program, and offered discounts on gym memberships and fitness classes.
HL: What changes have you seen among your employees, their families, or the surrounding community as a result of your program(s)?
DPS: Overall, we’ve seen wellness become more top of mind which has led to increased employee participation in our wellness programming. In addition, our wellness champions have played a huge role in developing team-based programming, which has helped to build a sense of community and a culture of health across the organization. Many DPS parents have also engaged in the wellness program and supported both staff and student healthy living initiatives.
HL: What tips/pieces of advice would you give to a business looking to create a healthier, safe and happier environment?
DPS: Ask employees what they want, need, and value when it comes to their wellness. Be flexible and innovative as you determine how to best serve your employees. Don’t forget to celebrate the successes and challenges! Focus on all employees and recognize that different roles throughout the organization have different needs and constraints. Make sure to offer alternatives that make sense for everyone. Think big and then figure out what you can offer, even if you have to start small.