Creating a Culture of Health
(April 2016) ICSI member organization Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, MN has implemented worksite wellness programs that have benefited both employees and their organization as a whole. Their first formal wellness program started in 2012, after participating in the PartnerSHIP 4 Health workplace wellness collaborative. One of Lake Region’s main goals was to address workplace challenges similar to what most other organizations face nationwide: staff members at risk for developing chronic, costly and preventable conditions due to long hours spent in the workplace.
Lake Region’s strategy was to create a culture of health by looking at key risk areas among their employees that could result in the development of certain chronic conditions. The organization chose to focus on physical activity, healthy eating, stress management, and decreasing tobacco use.
“Healthy choices, become easy choices for our employees,” said Brittany Nelson, RN, BSN, employee health coordinator at Lake Region Healthcare.“ One way that we have accomplished this is by creating policy, system, and environmental changes that allow our employees to incorporate healthy behaviors into their workday schedule. For example, we have a physical activity policy in place that gives employees flexibility in their workday to exercise or participate in other wellness activities.” In addition, Lake Region Healthcare offers group fitness classes and a gym on site, encouraging physical activity at work.
As far as results, Lake Region has seen an increase in participation in many of their wellness programs. One example is their “Maintain, Don’t Gain” holidays challenge. The goal of this challenge is for individuals to maintain or lose weight throughout the holiday season. The popularity of this program has grown each holiday season. In 2015, 76 percent of participants were successful in maintaining or losing weight.
Another example is the stress management workshops. A survey indicated that 77 percent of employees felt that they were experiencing stress-related symptoms. As a result, Lake Region offered a series of stress management workshops focused on different aspects of well-being to promote improved physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health in an effort to reduce overall stress. Staff members report that they are applying information from the sessions into their everyday lives, and also that they are seeing the benefits of implementing the stress management techniques.
“Happy, healthy and motivated employees are vitally important to our organization as a whole,” Nelson said. “Not only are they more apt to be productive, they are more likely to stay with a company long term. Our goal with our worksite wellness initiatives is to manage the cost of health care, benefits and insurance and become the “employer of choice” in our community.”
Lake Region shares some key considerations and lessons learned for organizations planning an employee wellness program:
- Gaining upper level management support is a critical component to establishing any worksite wellness program. This provides the backing to create real change in your organization and also conveys a message to staff that their wellbeing is an organizational priority.
- Another essential component is gathering employee data about the health topics that are a priority to them. This will guide you in the types of health programs to offer.
- It takes a team! Following are some of the people involved in Lake Region’s employee wellness programs:
- Natalie Knutson, Bachelor in Exercise Science & Physical Education, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer-Director of Wellness & Phatty Nattie’s
- Jason Bergstrand, LSW (Licensed Social Worker)-Community Wellness Assistant
- Steve Pletta, BS, Hotel and Restaurant Management-Director of Nutrition Services
- Kristy Norenberg, MPH, RD-Dietitian
- Leslie Anderson, RN, BAN, PHN, CLE
- Brittany Nelson, RN, BSN-Employee Health Coordinator