I started at Group & Pension Administrators, Inc. (GPA) in 2012 as the Wellness Coordinator for the company. I serve as a Wellness Coordinator for other clients as well, but my role at GPA is much different than the others. I have a more direct impact on the well-being of my co-workers and I do not take that lightly. I have been a Wellness Coordinator for over 7 years and a Registered Dietitian for a little over 5 years. GPA is a third-party administrator (TPA) with over 300 employees, some employees working in our Dallas or San Antonio offices, while others work from home. Through the wellness program, I try to encourage a "wellness state of mind" no matter where the employee works. Our program is suitable for at home or in office employees and our participation has increased over the past couple of years.
I received my Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas State University in December of 2005. I went to work for an oil company in Houston, but enjoyed the wellness program more than my actual job. I made a change after two years of being there and went back to school to study nutrition. I received my Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Texas Woman's University in 2009 and my Master of Science in Nutrition in 2012. I worked part-time as an onsite wellness coordinator while going through school and became a full-time wellness coordinator at GPA in January of 2012. Immediately I got a WELCOA membership to further my wellness training. My ongoing goal is to complete at least 2 WELCOA certifications per year, as well as maintain my faculty status with WELCOA.
At GPA, our top health risk factor is always BMI and/or Waist Circumference, while our top lifestyle risk factor swings between physical activity and nutrition. GPA needed a little shift in environment so we started with the Physical Activity component. We desired a way to make physical activity easy, accessible, and fun for the company. The executive team was onboard and generously agreed to provide subsidized Fitbits to any employee interested in joining our year-long Fitbit Charity Challenge. Employees interested signed up for one of four charity teams and we competed in different challenges throughout the year (i.e. most steps, most active minutes, etc.). The winning team(s) received donations to their charity. This Fitbit Charity Challenge allowed us all to sit less, get more active, and be altruistic! The atmosphere around GPA started to change too (and still continues today). People around the office started going on walks with each other more, mentioning weight loss results, having friendly competition even outside the specific challenges, and making regular activity habitual. In 2015 we walked 176,370,200 steps total and already in 2016 we have walked 112,482,932 with 3 months to go. With the positive results we have seen from this physical activity focus we will continue and eventually add a nutrition focus as well. I hope this energy at GPA continues for years to come!
One of my favorite leadership quotes is, “To me, a leader is someone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes.” I 100% agree with Brene Brown on this! I do not hold a leadership title at GPA, but I do consider myself a leader. I, alone, cannot change company culture and I find it rewarding when others throughout the company want to also have a positive impact on the well-being of their co-workers. With a small team of positive influencers, a huge difference has been made. In particular, with the development of the Fitbit Charity Challenge, out came a few wellness champions/volunteers that truly cared about others and desired to keep fellow co-workers engaged in the challenge. This energy is contagious and a “wellness state of mind” has been created. It is part of my job to see potential in others and empower them to find what keeps them happy and healthy.
Wellness isn’t a check-box on a to-do list. However, it can become that for some people. At GPA, I try to keep wellness from being another check-box. I want my co- workers to regularly think about motivation, the power of positive thinking, overcoming obstacles, reducing stress, improving nutrition, moving more, feeling good financially, connecting with their spirit, etc. All the things that can be included in a wellness program, but that go beyond completing a health challenge or participating in a certain activity. To help with this, I created a BeWell Facebook group and post a minimum of 3 times per week. Our biggest communication posts are when I pose a question to the group. It is so neat to see people respond and interact with each other virtually. We also have a BeWell Pinterest board full of recipe ideas, desk exercises, breathing tips, and all sorts of wellness “pins”. I do this to connect with people outside of work. Wellness does not start and end at work. The “wellness state of mind” goes home with you too!
In addition, I love creating campaigns for GPA over various topics. We recently had a 6-week stress management campaign that I created using my WELCOA certification (Stress Prevention in Six Steps) as a resource. It was interactive and received positive feedback. My hope is that GPA employees stay on top of stress reduction as we enter our busy season, as well as the holiday season!
The wellness industry is changing every day and those of us in this field must stay on top of trends, be willing to think outside the box, and find creative ways to reach all kinds of employees. With many employees working from home these days, I find it vital to utilize social platforms to assist and empower others to find their own way to cultivate a “wellness state of mind.” I am passionate about the wellness industry and plan to create new and improved activities, messages, campaigns, and wellness programs each and every year. Can’t stop, won’t stop!