Health Links (HL): Why is the health and safety of your employees important to you?
South Suburban Parks and Recreation District (SSPRD): South Suburban Parks and Recreation District’s mission is to foster healthy living through stewardship of the environment, parks, trails, and open space and provide recreational services and programs. We value our employees and recognize that their health, safety, and well-being are essential to the positive contribution they make to the district and our community.
HL: What does your workplace health and safety program look like? Do you offer both components to employees?
SSPRD: SSPRD organizes, promotes, and facilitates programs and resources designed to foster healthier lifestyles for our employees and their dependents, as well as focuses on overall wellness and safety in the organization. We have a Safety Committee comprised of both employees and supervisors, and we bring in industrial hygienists to assess improvements where safety claim trends are identified. We attempt to keep safety at the forefront of our employees' thoughts, and continue to maintain a high percentage of our staff that completes a safety training course. Our wellness program targets goals and improvements for our employees’ quality of life at home and at work through wellness and safety awareness, education, and healthy behavior changes. Our wellness program, B-fit, includes many facets of wellness, such as financial wellness, spiritual wellness, physical wellness, etc., and offers opportunities for employees to achieve their wellness goals through these different categories. To incentivize our employees, those who achieve the wellness goals receive a premium discount on their health insurance.
HL: How will you/do you know your program is successful?
SSPRD: We have seen a positive impact on claims utilization on the District's medical plans and work comp claims. Biometrics data has seen a trend that shows employees are in better health and seem to be making healthier lifestyle choices overall.
HL: What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?
SSPRD: We worked to gain support from our directors and supervisors to help promote and participate in our wellness objectives with our employees and obtain budget approval for the program from our Board of Directors.
Additionally, many of our employees are seasonal or part-time and do not have a company email. Consequently, communication was a big hurdle to overcome, requiring the organization to create different avenues to reach some of our employees.
HL: Does your health and safety program help give back to your community?
SSPRD: We offer and host multiple events that are held for our employees and the community, such as quarterly blood screenings, the Highline Canal Run and other 5k races, Silver Sneakers and Silver Fit, and many other free, low-cost, and affordable wellness activities. A variety of exciting recreation benefits are available to our employees and their dependents including daily admission to our Recreation centers, employee meal discounts, and more to support total well-being now and in the future.
For more than half a century, South Suburban Park and Recreation District’s “business” has been to plan, build and manage the many recreation assets it provides for its residents. Today, 155,000 residents count on South Suburban to provide close-to-home parks and open space, safe playgrounds for children, convenient trails, and exciting recreation facilities and programs to serve a variety of needs and interests.
HL: What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace health and safety program?
SSPRD: Offer a variety of programs at each level of difficulty. Engage employees and ask for suggestions and feedback. Meet each person where they're at in their life, rather than a program focused around just one wellness need: physical, financial, emotional, environmental, social, intellectual or spiritual. Lastly, develop and offer both team-based activities and individual-based activities.