First, there was “LiveWell Lawrence.”
It’s a network of organizations, businesses, schools and residents who are working to integrate healthy eating and physical activity into every aspect of community life. It has been meeting since fall 2008.
This fall, “LiveWell EatWell” was launched. Trish Unruh, a Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department nutritionist, began working with restaurant chefs and owners on offering great-tasting, nutritious items.
This week, “Work Well Lawrence,” was started under K-State Research and Extension — Douglas County with the hiring of Hayley Stolzle.
“The goal is to create this culture of health at the workplace,” she said.
Stolzle, who has a master’s degree in public health from Kansas University Medical School, is contacting chief executives of nonprofit and for-profit businesses. She said the first step of any successful wellness program is to get them on board.
Then, she hopes to get one or two people from each business, depending on its size, to form a community leadership team that will meet monthly. Stolzle will be educating the team about successful wellness programs, and it will share information and ideas as well.
Stolzle said some examples of what Lawrence businesses are doing:
• Allowing extra time at lunch or the end of the day for walking or other exercise.
• Offering on-site health screenings.
• Offering yoga sessions during the lunch hour.
Workplace wellness programs are a win-win, Stolzle said.
For employers, they reduce health care costs and absenteeism, and improve productivity and morale.
For employers, they reduce health care costs and improve quality of life and health.
“The long-term benefits are endless,” she said.
Hayley Stolzle is seeking people who represent Lawrence nonprofits, agencies or companies to serve on a new community leadership team. The team will address what works and what doesn’t when it comes to wellness programs, and help implement a Work Well Lawrence initiative.
If you are interested, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-7058.
Sarah Arbuthnot takes the stairs instead of the elevator at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, where she has worked for the past year as curriculum specialist.
“It’s like you know you should, but the sign confirms you are doing something healthy. It’s very effective,” Arbuthnot, 30, said.
The nonprofit organization has posted 24 signs throughout the four-floor building in west Lawrence that remind its employees about the benefits of eating right and exercise.
It’s just one of the steps GCSAA has taken during the past four years to make the environment a healthier one for its 90 employees.
“It’s a collection of small things that really creates that culture of wellness,” said Paige Wilson, human resources manager.
GCSAA started by forming a wellness committee, then surveying its employees.
“You have to ask the employees what they want,” Wilson said. “It really helps if we get their feedback because then they become personally invested in the initiatives. It creates buy-in.”
The company also encouraged its employees to take a health risk assessment, commonly called HRA, so they knew what health issues to focus on. The first year, GCSAA provided a $60 incentive and 55 employees completed the HRA.
GCSAA learned many employees suffered from stress and depression, so they scheduled “lunch-and-learn” programs in these areas. For example, Aynsley Anderson, of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, gave a presentation in November on “50 Ways to Simplify the Season.”
Wilson said it was a hit among employees, who provide feedback on programs and initiatives. “This place is only as good as its employees and we need to value their health,” Wilson said.
Wilson spoke during a worksite wellness workshop last month at South Junior High School. The three-hour workshop covered the importance of offering comprehensive smoking cessation programs, how to create a culture of health at work, and the resources available to do so.
Susan Krumm, of K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, was one of the keynote speakers. Workplace wellness is a subject she’s passionate about. She took a five-month sabbatical in 2008 to study the issue in-depth, and has been working to implement workplace wellness in the statewide agency that she works for. She also wants to make a difference locally.
“It just makes sense when we are spending 50 percent of our time at a business that perhaps we could notch out some time during the day to focus on wellness,” she said.
Krumm recently received a $13,500 grant from LiveWell Lawrence to establish a community leadership team to help identify what works and what doesn’t when it comes to wellness programs in workplaces of all sizes.
She plans to hire a part-time employee by Sept. 1 to help facilitate the team and effort called “Work Well Lawrence.”
Krumm estimates about 20 percent of Lawrence businesses are “dabbling in” wellness, but many aren’t implementing a program that promotes a “culture of change,” like GCSAA is doing.
“It’s best not to plan your workplace initiative around an activity of the month because research shows that’s not working. It needs to be results-oriented,” she said.
Arbuthnot described GCSAA as the most health-centered place that she has worked for, and she likes it.
Among the programs that she takes advantage of is the healthy snacks program. Members of the wellness committee take turns buying fruits and healthy snacks for the kitchen areas. The program charges 50 cents for a snack and 35 cents for fruit, and employees put the change in a can.
“It’s super affordable. So, if you get hungry, you don’t have to go buy a Snickers, you can buy something that’s better for you,” she said.
Wilson also like the program.
“There are mornings when I don’t eat breakfast at home and so instead of starving myself, which is not healthy, I will go grab a banana and a granola bar,” she said.
Among GSCAA’s other initiatives:
• Fresh produce. Employees planted a garden of tomatoes, green peppers, basil, eggplant, corn and more. They can pick produce when they want. Employees help maintain it during and after work hours.
• Annual wellness fair. This year’s event was July 29 and featured 16 vendors. Employees received $20 if they completed a health risk assessment. Wilson said the economy has caused them to reduce the incentive, but they still had more than 40 people participate.
• Payback. Not only are employees offered a discount to fitness centers in town, but they get $10 per month added to their paycheck if they use it, or participate in any other exercise-related activity. This includes runs, walks, swimming lessons and personal training.
• Yoga sessions. It offers an hourlong session five times a week in the building. Sessions cost $5.
Wilson said the company hasn’t seen a change in its bottom line because of the wellness initiatives — yet.
“Our health insurance claims have been maintained at the same level, which I think is huge considering the direction of health in our country, she said.
More importantly, Wilson said they hope the measures help retain employees and make them more productive.
“We want them to be as stress-free, healthy and happy as possible,” Wilson said.
Susan Krumm, of K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, has done extensive research on the benefits of workplace wellness programs.
• reduced health care costs
• reduced absenteeism
• improved employee performance
• improved productivity
• enhanced employee morale
• enhanced employee recruitment and retention
• community goodwill
• improved health
• improved quality of life
• less time being ill or with disability
• reduced health care costs
Krumm is seeking people who represent Lawrence nonprofits, agencies or companies to serve on a new community leadership team. The team will address what works and what doesn’t when it comes to wellness programs, and help implement a Work Well Lawrence initiative.
If you are interested in serving on the committee, contact her at email@example.com or 843-7058.