by Stephanie Ceccherini, Director of Wellness Services, The Lawson Group
As the Director of Wellness Services for The Lawson Group, I have had hundreds of conversations with employers over the years about implementing workplace wellness programs. Some companies I speak with already have robust programs. Others are just getting started, or don’t even have plans to get started. When I meet with a group that isn’t jumping on the wellness bandwagon, I often hear the same few reasons: they don’t think their employees would engage in a wellness program, they don’t have the time or resources to coordinate it, or they don’t have the budget.
Many employers who lack resources to coordinate their wellness initiatives get stuck in a cycle of offering programs here and there when they have time, but not backing them up with environmental support. This can often lead to low engagement. There has been a shift in employee wellness strategy in recent years — many of us are moving away from just focusing on programs, and more towards impacting the environment and culture of the workplace. The overall environment and company culture should support employee wellness, and any additional programs should reinforce that.
A great way to step back and look at your wellness efforts is to conduct a wellness needs assessment. This can help get your program on track to accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When I conduct a needs assessment, I typically sit with key stakeholders and go through a series of questions about the current status of your program, policies, physical activity, nutrition, tobacco, and stress management. Information from the assessment is used to generate a report outlining some recommendations to get started.
For those that aren’t offering a wellness program (or don’t think they are!), I want to help break down some of the barriers and offer some examples of some really great — and “out of the box” — offerings The Lawson Group provides employees as a part of our wellness program.
Community Service Hours
Each year, our employees have 16 paid community service hours to be used with a charity of their choice. Throughout the year, we offer companysponsored days to help employees use their hours. These events are a great way to build camaraderie and support the local community. We have participated in events such as The Capital Region Food Program Holiday Food Basket Project, Families in Transition Market Days Sale, Granite United Way Day of Caring, Friendly Kitchen lunch help, among others. Employees may also choose to use their hours outside of these events.
Healthy Snack Area
We have tried to bring in a healthy vending machine, but our employees didn’t use it enough to make it worthwhile for the vending company to leave it. Since then, we have implemented a “healthy snack area” in our kitchen. This is self funded through honor system purchases, and since we buy the foods in bulk from the store, we are able to keep the prices low.We also encourage employees to make a healthy snack and share it (and the recipe!) with everyone. We reward anyone that does this through our HSA incentive program.
Once a month, we shut the office doors and allow our employees to work from home for the day. This initiative started through a statewide “Commute Green” effort, and has become a great benefit for employees that many look forward to. We had to take a few steps to make sure these days were business as usual, including making sure all employees had the right systems for working remotely, and that all our phones forwarded properly whether we were in the office or at home. We have been offering this for about 3 years now, and many employees take advantage. (Shutting the doors is a bit of an exaggeration, as anyone is welcome to work from the office that day if desired).
Wellness Bulletin Board
This is very simple, but is somewhere we can put all our program information in one place. Any upcoming events, wellness information, recipes, etc. can be accessed there. It is right in our break room, and employees know they can glance at the board to get the latest wellness tips and see what events are coming up.
At The Lawson Group, we believe that employee wellness should be ingrained in the company culture. We want to create an environment and policies in our workplace that support healthy lifestyles for our employees and their families. Employee wellness is a long term investment, but small changes over time are all it takes to start shifting the culture in a positive way.
If you are interested in connecting with Stephanie you can reach her at 603.848.0264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.