If you do not know where Bennett, Colorado is, you should. Bennett is a rural community located just 30 miles east of Denver with a municipal government full of proud locals. Town of Bennett employees are more than eager to tell you about their town, but also their place of employment.
Since 2017, Town of Bennett has been certified as a Healthy Workplace Leader through Health Links<sup>®</sup>. The partnership began when Corren Lind was promoted to Assistant to the Town Administrator (she is now the Executive Services Supervisor). Corren has had her fair share of unhealthy work environments and was excited to help Town of Bennet create a healthier one.
“To me, being a healthy workplace means creating a supportive environment that encourages employee health and allows them to go home to their families,” says Corren. Town of Bennett has a long list of programs that help support employee health, safety and well-being. The organization provides health screenings, tobacco and nicotine cessation programs, as well as physical and mental health wellness trainings, to name a few. Before the pandemic began, when employees were still in the office, Town of Bennett provided healthy snacks, weekly workout classes on Wednesday afternoon during work hours, and team-building activities like team sports and healthy recipe potlucks.
For Taeler Houlberg, current Assistant to the Town Administrator, the desire to create a healthy workplace is derived from what it says to Town of Bennett employees. “It shows that the organization is employee-centric,” she says. “We have all experienced a workplace that is not employee-centric, and we know what it feels like to dread going to work. But when you are at the Town of Bennett, you are seen as an individual; one who may have mental health challenges or face health problems or other challenges. And that is okay, we see you as someone who has a life outside of work.”
According to Health Links and supported by research, a key benchmark essential to successful workplace health, safety and well-being programs is demonstrated support from leadership. Town of Bennett attests to leadership buy-in and participation as key factors in the success of its programs. “We are a tight-knit group of 29 employees,” says Corren. “Honestly, our culture starts from leadership and works its way down.”
There are many workplace demands that can often push health, safety and well-being programs to the back-burner. As part of the Healthy Workplace Network, Town of Bennett finds the accountability it receives in the Health Links advising sessions essential to keeping the organization on the straight and narrow. “I appreciate that we have a report with our Health Links Advisor and that he keeps us accountable,” says Corren.
Similarly, Taeler greatly values the Health Links assessment and goal-setting process. “It helps us create milestones for improvement. We saw where we needed to make improvements and then we were given the tools to actually take action. That was a substantial factor in our growth with Health Links.” A policy change that has made a drastic improvement in Town of Bennett has been flexible work schedules for employees. This was thankfully established before the COVID pandemic and has been highly utilized and appreciated by staff.
For employers looking to create a healthy and successful workplace culture like Town of Bennett, Corren suggests starting with baby steps. “Start by asking your employees about what is important to them. They may seem like they don't care about their health, but there is always someone in their life they want to be healthy for. Build your programs around their motivations and interests.”
Gathering employee input on health, safety and well-being is another Health Links standard supported by research. If an organization’s programs and policies do not reflect the needs and interests of its employees, they do not succeed. Based on advice from their Health Links advisor, Town of Bennett sends out regular online surveys to assess employee needs and bases its programs off of employee responses.
Taeler recommends that workplaces maintain a healthy standard of trust in order to see success in their workplace culture. “Trusting your employees is a big part of building a workplace culture of health and happiness,” she says. “If you institute policies like a flex schedule, employees will be grateful, and you have to trust that your employees will not take advantage of those policies.”
Thanks to its hard work and dedication to employee health, safety and well-being, Town of Bennett received the 2020 Champion of Well-being Award (Leader) at Celebrating Colorado’s Healthiest Places to Work. “This award was a validation for all the work and investment that we have put in. We can tell people over and over how benefit-rich our organization is and now we have the award to back it up. It was nice to see that our hard work pays off.”
Watch Town of Bennett’s 2020 Award video here.
Written by Laura Veith, marketing & communications coordinator at Health Links and the Center for Health, Work & Environment based at the Colorado School of Public Health.