Health Links (HL): What does being a healthy business mean to your organization?
It is the guiding principle of Douglas County Libraries (DCL) that the health and safety of its employees and the public are of great importance, and are an underlying theme in day-to-day activities of the libraries. At Douglas County Libraries, we uphold this principle by taking measures to prevent accidents and injuries and ensuring safety takes precedence over expediency.
HL: How does your organization create a culture of health, safety, and well-being for employees?
DCL: It is an ongoing process to create a health and safety culture, where everyone is accountable and feels empowered to take action. We have safety guidelines for our staff as well as monthly tips, a discussion topic and trainings for our employees. Some of our trainings are relevant to national awareness topics, like Breast Cancer, or Fire Prevention; others are community relevant, while others are general topics, like footwear or ergonomics. We have also implemented mini Health Challenges. These challenges have employees work on one health change for 22 days out of a 30-day period, bringing awareness to the specific activity. Challenges include activities such as tracking their moods, eating a healthy breakfast, eliminating one sugary drink, or exercising 15 minutes a day.
We may promote an annual event, such as a virtual walk. One year our virtual walk was from Castle Rock, CO to the Library of Congress – stopping at state libraries along the way and sharing fun facts about the places we see. A library is an information place, so our staff appreciates these tidbits.
To ensure we are inclusive of all our staff in our smaller challenges and annual event, we choose activities that can be done individually to accommodate diverse work schedules. Specifically, for our annual event, we have an activity minutes-to-miles conversion to allow those without fitness trackers to still get credit and participate.
HL: How has Health Links helped your organization?
DCL: Douglas County Libraries has been working with Health Links for five years. The first three years working with Health Links, we worked with the advisors to build a foundation that is still in place today. At this time, we are at a maintenance point, continuing to support our employees with our existing efforts and making changes where we feel we can improve.
HL: What changes have you seen among your employees, their families, or the surrounding community as a result of your program(s)?
DCL: Overall, our staff members are more aware of health and safety in their day-to-day activities. Within our organization, we have focused on healthy meetings – keeping meetings short and efficient, and sharing healthy snacks. We also look for ways to shorten some of our longer trainings, or incorporate stretching to keep our employees moving and engaged.
HL: What tips/pieces of advice would you give to a business looking to create a healthier, safer, and happier environment?
DCL: Health and wellness needs to be a continuous, ongoing conversation across different forms and mediums to create awareness. By keeping wellness at the forefront of our employees' minds—without being pushy and preferably with a little fun—it starts to become instinctive, the healthier choices become easy, and safety is a conscious action, instead of an afterthought.
The best piece of advice we could give is that you have to start. Recognize that you cannot do everything and there will be things that do not work, but you have to keep trying. Keep the nature of your organization in mind, listen to what concerns are brought up and comments made by employees, and see where you can make a change, or provide training. Each organization has their own issues and areas where they can continue to improve. Small changes will make an impact over time, in the health of your employees, and in the culture.