Sangre de Cristo Electric has done an excellent job not only caring about the safety of their workers, but about their health as well. With a robust health and safety program, they make a great role-model for other companies and organizations trying to link those teo aspects of employee wellness.
Health Links (HL): Why is the health and wellness of your employees important to you?
Sangre de Cristo Electric (SCE): Health and wellness has always been a passion of mine. Healthier people are happier and more productive. All of us are concerned about health in some way and have our own goals – I like helping people achieve their goals.
HL: How will you/do you know your program is successful?
SCE: We can tell that our program is successful because we have a very low turnover rate for our employees. Our location is great and our company is one of the best to work for in the county. We have also seen success in the participation of our employees. At first it was tough getting people involved because we are all set in our ways, but recently people who were really resistant at the beginning of the program participate in different activities like taking walking breaks instead of coffee breaks.
HL: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?
SCE: We’ve always had great management support, and because of this funding has never been a problem. It wasn’t hard to get the program started, but getting employee buy-in can sometimes be an issue. My solution took several years. First, I formed a Wellness Committee with employees from each department. Next, I sent out yearly anonymous survey’s to employees to find out what health and wellness issues interested them. And finally I try to keep the program fresh and exciting with a variety of lunch and learns each year or new wellness challenges. This year, we had our very first Health Fair with a blood draw for employees and spouses, and “breakout sessions” with guest speakers from all realms of wellness. It was very well received.
HL: Do you incorporate safety along with your wellness program? If so, what does this look like?
SCE: Being an electric utility we have always had a robust safety program. And, actually, our wellness program stemmed from our safety program. SDCEA’s safety committee puts together the safety meeting schedule for the year and leaves room for several wellness meetings. Since the safety meetings are required by all staff, this is a great way to let everyone know what is going on at all levels. Safety and wellness go hand-in-hand, especially in our industry. If you are healthy, physically fit and managing your stress you are better able to focus on safety, which is really important for utility work.
HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace wellness program?
SCE: The first step is to form a wellness committee and try to get someone from each department to sit on the committee. This helps brew up ideas – it keeps things fresh and ideas flowing.