Monday, April 6, 2009

Employee Wellness program gains momentum as employees shed pounds

Employee wellness isn’t something I often talk about in my weekly column, but with the well documented success of the City’s new employee wellness program, I thought I’d mention what an impact the program is having on our employees, and ultimately our City.

Now in it’s second year, the City’s fully integrated Employee Wellness Program, which is jointly coordinated by Scott Caron, Recreation Director; Steffanie Rogers, Finance Director and April Reynolds, Senior Account Clerk, is producing results that did not exist prior to the program’s launch in December 2007.

Since implementing the program, there has been a significant reduction not only in pounds lost by numerous City employees, but also in the amount of absenteeism and sick days taken. In addition, there were no employee health insurance premium increases over the last year, or the year before – indicating that the City’s employee wellness program is minimizing the rising cost of health insurance seen nationwide. Furthermore, for every $1 the City invests in our new Wellness Program, the City receives $6 back.

So just how is the City of Rolla encouraging City employees to live healthier, more active lives that contribute to their wellness and well-being? Simply put, we are placing wellness as a priority, at the forefront, and not on the back shelf where it will go unheard and unnoticed. You could say the City of Rolla is embracing a new lifestyle change of health and wellness that is based on education, awareness, positive reinforcement and, best of all, teamwork. We have found that without teamwork, and buy-in from employees all across the City’s 9 departments, the City’s wellness program would not be the success that it is.

In addition to an annual health risk assessment made available to all City employees in January, the City has offered several wellness programs such as the Biggest Loser contest, Weight Watchers, and monthly brown-bag wellness seminars that range in topics from stress management to nutrition, and fitness. Each year, the City holds an Employee Wellness Day that provides additional information about how the City’s Wellness Program is doing, benchmark data, and ideas to enhance the City’s Employee Wellness Plan. Testimonials from City employees who have lost significant amounts of weight, and are changing their eating, fitness and lifestyle habits, have been particularly effective.

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating, and if you take into account the number of City employees who have had significant weight loss, it is clearly evident that the wellness program is doing much more than encouraging City employees to count calories. More employees are discovering the benefits of fitness, better nutrition, portion control, stress management, and life-long habits that can add years to their lives, not to mention, increase energy and productivity, and resistance to sickness and disease.

Regular health and fitness newsletters are e-mailed and made available to all City employees on a regular basis, and the results of the health risk assessments are confidentially mailed to each employee who elects to participate in the assessment. These simple to use materials and tools keep health and wellness at the forefront, and allow City employees to integrate wellness into not only their working environments, but also their overall lifestyles. Wellness is something that is valued, encouraged and now recognized among numerous City employees, and it is only a matter of time before living a healthy, balanced and active life is considered one of the trademarks of every employee in the City of Rolla.

Here’s to a healthier way of living, and to your good health.

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