Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) is a voluntary association of county and municipal governments that believes in the benefits of working together on a regional basis. NWCCOG serves 26 member jurisdictions in a 5-county region of northwest Colorado.
Health Links (HL): Why did your business decide to become a Health Links Certified Healthy Business?
Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG): NWCCOG recognizes the benefits of understanding and improving employee well-being and how that starts where employees spend most of their waking time — the workplace. The happier and healthier our employees, the more productive and enjoyable the workplace.
Health Links (HL): What benefits did the Certification bring to your business?
(NWCCOG): The Healthy Business Certification enhanced our employees' and surrounding communities' vision of wellness. Having a certification is the first step in educating employees and the public about what it means to work healthy. Being a healthy employee has become a value for each of us — participation in wellness activities is up and the majority of our office employees even choose to order standing desks for their offices! Our view of wellness is then spread regionally through our newsletter and through those we interact with on a daily basis. The certification has also given us connections to local healthy business resources. These businesses have facilitated workshops or presentations at our site regarding topics such as proper ergonomics (Howard Head, Will Kruger), financial planning (Choice Advisors, Michelle Martinez), benefits of meditation (Internal Balance, Thotme), surviving at high altitude (Ebert Family Clinic, Christine Ebert-Santos, M.D.), and teamwork (Ascent Life Planning, Claudine Norden). Most importantly, employee morale has increased due to the benefits that came from becoming a certified healthy business.
Health Links (HL): How has this Certification changed the way your business thinks about health promotion and safety?
(NWCCOG): The Health Links Certification has opened our eyes to taking protective wellness seriously and seeking opportunities for our employees. It has also underscored the importance of leadership participation in wellness activities and values.
We care about our employees and want to show each and every department and position that we value not only their work but their lives. In sum, this certification encourages honest dialogue and trust between managers and staff in order to maintain healthy, happy lives while simultaneously being successful at work.
Health Links (HL): How has your employee health and safety program given back to your community?
(NWCCOG): Ours is a regional membership organization with nearly 30 jurisdictions in the membership across northwest Colorado. We regularly share our wellness initiatives through presentations during council meetings that are open to the public about our worksite wellness program and the economic benefits of pursuing a wellness program. We regularly promote a wellness culture including a wellness tip or showcasing our wellness program in our region-wide monthly newsletter, which has over 1,000 readers.
We are just starting to promote volunteering in the community with our staff. We had a plot in the local community garden maintained by staff in recent years. This summer, we are planning to volunteer helping maintain and repair local trails.
Health Links (HL): Why is the health and wellness of your employees important to you?
Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG): We recognize the link between the health and wellness of our employees, their productivity, and their level of happiness with their work. Their overall health relates to their health within the workplace.
HL: How will you/do you know your program is successful?
NWCCOG: In terms of measuring success, the level of participation in the things we offer is important to us. We’ll be completing year one at the end of June, so measuring actual health outcomes is farther away right now. We’ve seen great success in participation in our Lunch n' Learns which tells us the topics are of interest and employees are making it a priority to attend.
HL: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?
NWCCOG: Funding wasn’t a huge obstacle for us since we went through the Health Links Kick-Start program, but we don’t necessarily have a dedicated funding stream for our program. Also, we have office workers and field workers so it has been difficult to come up with a program that works for both groups.
HL: Do you incorporate safety along with your wellness program? If so, what does this look like?
NWCCOG: We do. We’ve actually been doing a more formal safety program. We have a monthly safety committee meeting which has adopted wellness into their agenda and has become “health and safety” committee. We present information on a variety of topics from driving safety, slips, trips, and falls, and ergonomics. We make it a priority to have safety and wellness as a standing agends item on staff meetings.
HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace wellness program?
NWCCOG: Don’t be afraid if you're a small organization and you don’t have a lot of resources. You don’t need much to start a program and little things go a long way. Things such as brown-bag lunch and learns where health topics are presented upon are completely free. Time is normally an issue as well, but if you take the “team approach” with your employees, you can disperse the responsibility so the burdern isn't only on one person. Little things can mean a lot! Use existing systems in place such as monthly staff meetings to introduce wellness ideas.