Lawrence is a state champion for workplace wellness thanks to a group founded about three years ago called WorkWell Lawrence.
The group has grown to include 28 employers, and they meet monthly for about two hours to share ideas about how to improve wellness in their workplaces. Topics include nutrition, vending machines, stress and meditation, smoking cessation opportunities and hospice care. In September, the group will host its third symposium about workplace wellness.
“People spend more than 50 percent of their time at work, so that’s where they need support to form the habits to have a healthy lifestyle,” said Carolyn Crawford, WorkWell Lawrence coordinator. “There’s more and more research out there about how changing your lifestyle at work will carry over to the home.”
Because of WorkWell’s efforts, Lawrence was one of the first 10 communities selected last year to take part in a three-year initiative called WorkWell KS that is being funded with a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. WorkWell KS has now grown to include 30 communities.
In each community, employers complete an in-depth assessment to gauge where they are in terms of wellness. Then, they take part in a training session where they receive feedback on the assessment and a strategy on how to strengthen their wellness program or develop one.
Eleven Lawrence employers took part in the training last year. Those employers included DCCCA, Douglas County Bank, the City of Lawrence and the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.
“It provided a standardized assessment of the Health Department’s program and gave us a framework to think about wellness in a way we had never thought of before,” said Charlie Bryan, Community Health planner at the Health Department. “It also was rewarding to see other Douglas County employers working on these issues and excited about it.
This week — June 13 and June 14 — 11 employers will participate in another round of training being offered through the state program. Five employers will be participating for the first time: Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Lawrence Public Schools, Cottonwood Inc., K-State Research and Extension — Douglas County, Ballard Community Center and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.
Bert Nash Chief Operating Officer Pat Roach Smith said the agency is excited to join the WorkWell initiative this year. “We have a staff of about 165 people and understand how important both physical and mental wellness is. We also know it’s imperative we have a healthy workplace so we can continue to provide the best care for both our staff and the people we serve,” she said.
Crawford said the WorkWell KS training has been a great opportunity for the Lawrence community, which has made great strides in improving workplace wellness. She said many employers are offering Community Agriculture Supported programs, gardens, health fairs, health assessments and educational programs.