By Megan Reece Thomas
Part one about the employee wellness program at Longmont’s OUR (Outreach United Resource) Center appeared in the Berthoud Recorder’s Sept. 17 Health and Wellness special section. The wellness program is based on a solid foundation laid by OUR Center Director Edwina Salazar and Wellness Program Coordinator Amy Kim. But the other employees help to keep the program fresh and alive.
Kim is amazed at the number of ideas the program’s committees pull together. Suggestions include an incentive program that offers a free punch pass to the Longmont Recreation Center, chair massages once a month and a monthly newsletter.
The committee doesn’t just sit around and come up with ideas either. They make things happen. So far, Kim has brought in a nutrition expert for two different Lunch and Learns. Employees either brought their lunches or were provided one and listened to the nutritionist talk about basic nutrition for one session and eating well when eating out for another. The first Lunch and Learn had 80 percent employee participation. Kim makes sure to offer great incentives for showing up, including gift cards to Buzz Coffee.
An employee hike is in the works. Before the weather turns cold, Kim and another committee member, Ruby Gonzalez, will lead employees on a nearby hike over a weekend morning. They will even provide the healthful snacks.
In November and December, the wellness program will put on a big holiday challenge with tremendous incentives. Kim expects they will finish off their grant money with the challenge, evaluate the program’s success and get ready to start again.
Kim isn’t the only one designing activities and projects. Gonzalez took it upon herself to help plan a daily lunchtime walk with some of the center’s employees. Gonzalez started walking at lunch for her own benefit at the end of July. Another employee, Rachael Navarro, joined her and soon it became a general ongoing concept for the wellness committee.
“People started joining me,” Gonzalez says, and the lunchtime walk really took off. Employees eat an early lunch at their desks and then get out for an hour long, three mile walk from noon to 1 p.m. Gonzalez predicts the walk will continue until the weather turns too snowy and cold. After that, she hopes other options will be available inside. Of course, there’s always stair climbing during the winter.
Kim has learned a lot about a successful employee wellness program from this inaugural season. “You can’t do it all at once,” she says. Ideas are always good and always valuable, but sometimes you have to accept your limitations and follow your own guidelines. To have a successful program, it has to be gradual or burnout, disinterest or worse can ensue.
“Success isn’t 100 percent participation 100 percent of the time,” Kim says. Instead, gradual idea conception and integration will be the rule. Kim is also interested to see who else will bring ideas to the committee’s table. By attracting new people to the program’s planning process, Kim expects a different wellness focus might be adopted. Wellness means different things to different people, she points out.
Here’s to different ideas leading to the same conclusion; happier, healthier productive employees.