October 22, 2018

Crow Wing County Wellness Reboot

County social worker Lynn Nelson needs to check her blood pressure twice a day at work. Finding the private space that she needed within the Crow Wing County office buildings was a challenge. Human Resources Director Tami Laska wanted to change that for Nelson and the other 470 county workers who might need to do a similar health check, administer medication, use a breast pump, or just take a brief moment to regroup. Laska created a comprehensive work site wellness plan that included the creation of wellbeing rooms and more.

Research from sources like the Centers for Disease Control report that work site wellness programs may save on health care costs, but could do even more: they may transform organizational culture by boosting retention, fostering engagement, and developing the good employee morale that is especially important for those who serve the public.

Laska wants county workers to know that their well being is important, but she also knows good intentions only go so far. In 2017, she began a revitalization of the county’s wellness programming because only 35 percent of employees were engaged in wellness events and attendance at wellness planning meetings was declining. She wanted to see greater reach and impact with work site wellness efforts and she knew the program needed restructuring.

As a member of Resource Training & Solutions’ health insurance pool, Crow Wing County gains access to wellness funding, training, education, and networking tools that could help. Laska contacted the Resource wellness team to begin conducting a wellness strategic plan and enlisted the help of Abby Eggum, the county’s human resources assistant.

Employee Led

Eggum revived the county’s wellness committee,“WE”, with new and more diverse employee representation. The group now has more than 20 active volunteers who meet quarterly to execute projects and share vital employee input.

Committee members Sherry Smith and Darcy Dwyer share wellness news and information through the county’s Intranet system and with an online wellness portal. Stacy Steil, wellness manager at Resource, says this kind of effective communication is essential to program success. “To have resources available to all employees 24/7, no matter their mobility on the job or work hours, allows equal access to information.”

Gauging Results

Eggum monitors program effectiveness and interest through surveys. She shares results with employees to nurture engagement and build goodwill. “We do care,” she says. “To me, employees are the most important aspects of a wellness program.”

Laska’s wellness programming wish list included more than wellbeing rooms. She wanted to provide employees with healthy vending options, simple fitness tools to use at work or home, and wellness events employees found meaningful, like fitness challenges and blood drives.

Eggum made Laska’s vision a reality, and employee feedback shows great appreciation for the wellness initiatives now in place. Current survey results show Crow Wing County’s employee engagement is twice as high as for similar employers.

Proof of this appreciation is apparent. A group of workers regularly use the fitness space in the community services building to do a weighted hula-hoop workout. Feedback from the wellness survey information gathered during the planning stages indicated employees needed a place so they could stretch and move.

Rethinking Work Site Wellness

Laska believes Resource’s willingness to rethink worksite wellness according to the county’s specific needs was invaluable. Resource made many visits to Crow Wing County to help identify and assess spaces, provide insight on fitness equipment, and share resources that made program implementation easier. Eggum sees Resource as a true partner that was available and responsive to her. “Resource helped us get excited about the changes,” Eggum says. “Resource helped us get excited about the changes.” Laska hopes all of this work lays the foundation for even further healthy, positive change at Crow Wing County—be that physical, mental, or emotional. She is thrilled that the wellness programming creates a culture of engagement and fosters improved performance at her place of employment.

When it comes to a wellness programming reboot, she recommends beginning with the end in mind. “Reforming culture doesn’t happen overnight, but small changes mean a lot and go a long way,”she says.

6 Ways of Improving Well-being at Work

  1. Alternate sitting and walking during the workday Get up and walk for three minutes for every hour you sit at your desk.
  2. Eat lunch away from your desk. It helps you regain energy and refocus.
  3. How we communicate matters. Interpersonal connections are critical to well being. Talk to co-workers in person instead of sending an email. Face-to-face interactions boost feel-good chemicals in our brains.
  4. Wipe your keyboard, mouse, and phone. Clean your work area weekly with disposable wipes and prevent the spread of germs that may make you sick.
  5. Before you go, make your list. Take five minutes at the end of today to make your to-do list for tomorrow.
  6. Give your eyes a break. Looking at a screen all day takes a toll on your eyes. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.