This small cooperative provides electricity to over 18,000 members in seven southern Colorado counties. The San Isabel Electric Association (SIEA) knows that a healthy business is good for business. As part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), they receive an insurance plan discount in exchange for wellness program implementation. With yearly health fairs, as well as workout incentives, on-site exercise equipment, and partial health club reimbursements, this Pueblo West cooperative has started and maintained a fresh, successful wellness program.
Why is the health and wellness of your employees important to you?
SIEA is a small company with around 85 employees. Giving our employees the tools to stay healthy, both physically and emotionally, is a benefit to them and to our members, since it results in a healthier, happier, more productive workforce with lower health care costs.
Tell us about your worksite wellness activities/program.
We conduct a yearly health fair with biometric and other screenings, free to the employees, followed by an annual health survey. We plan our next year’s wellness offerings based upon the results of the survey and health fair data. We offer incentives for exercising, doctor checkups, partial reimbursement for health club memberships, and all of our properties have exercise equipment on site that the employees may utilize on their breaks. We have wellness speakers and programs at employee meetings throughout the year.
How do you measure the success of your program?
We study data from our health fair and health survey, comparing results from year to year and looking for trends. Improvement in our data is one measure of success, but we also rely on employee feedback. We also feel our program succeeds when employees learn of potential health issues during our health fair and follow up with their primary care doctor.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?
We’re part of a larger group of cooperatives, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which provides our benefits. They have offered a discount on our insurance plan for well over a decade in return for having a wellness program. Luckily, wellness programs are part of electric co-op culture, and our biggest challenge is keeping our program fresh, which we try to do by networking with other wellness groups, including Parkview Medical Center, and seeking training opportunities throughout the year.
What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a worksite wellness program?
Begin with a volunteer wellness team that represents employees from all departments and levels in your organization. Give them a realistic budget, along with time and support, to be trained and to guide the wellness program. Join the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), and let your wellness team take advantage of their training materials.