I have worked in the health and wellness industry for over 10 years. I currently serve as the Senior Wellbeing Specialist for Garmin International. The Garmin For the Health of It! wellbeing program started in 2009, and in 2010, the organization decided to strategically expand the offerings and hire a full-time practitioner. It has truly been a privilege to spend each day working to empower individuals and push our organization and culture to strive for the best wellbeing we can possibly create for ourselves, each other and our community. Throughout this journey, I have created grassroots programs, initiated associate engagement and have advocated for culture change and executive support, wellbeing policy implementation and much more. Garmin is a global company dedicated to the development and creation of superior products in the aviation, marine, automotive, fitness and outdoor recreation markets. Garmin currently employs 4,300 associates in the U.S. — this is my audience for the company’s wellbeing program.
I received my bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and have received multiple WELCOA certifications. I have been a member of the WELCOA faculty for multiple years and enjoy being able to share WELCOA data and information with our leadership team. In 2016, I was honored to be inducted into the Emporia State University HPER Hall of Honor based on my career achievements, commitment to my field and as a respected professional in the industry.
The Garmin wellbeing program takes a holistic approach that integrates multiple facets of wellbeing to allow associates to focus on their personal needs at any given time. One of the largest dilemmas we continue to hear from associates, as well as understand from health risk assessment data, is that stress impacts the daily lives of many. To get to the root of this issue, we looked at data that correlated higher levels of stress with increased reports of high blood pressure and obesity. In order to understand the origin of stress for our associates, we utilized engagement survey feedback as well as individual training and development course attendance feedback to recognize top areas which may be the cause of their stress. In doing so, annual fall campaigns are hosted for associate awareness, interaction and education. While stress is the intended intervention we are focusing on, we use campaign themes that are focused on the causes of stress. Throughout my time with this program, we have hosted two financial wellbeing campaigns as well as a holistic stress less campaign. Currently, we are conducting a resiliency campaign to empower associates to grow and establish their own resiliency as a mechanism to better understand their personal stress. It is the awareness of behavior change when we are stressed that causes us to not have healthy eating or exercise habits, strain relationships in our lives, not feel well rested and much more. Instead of only tackling the concept of stress and leaving individuals in fact more stressed, we want to take one larger topic at a time to enhance their ability to manage, reduce or accept the stress in their lives in a strong and productive way. This not only creates a happier and more productive work environment, but also supports a culture of wellbeing and acceptance of work-life integration. Leveraging initiatives such as these have led to associate wellbeing policies that are now a part of our organization’s associate handbook. Our wellness program has had a positive impact on associate morale and culture. The seven benchmarks for our organization are ever-evolving and expanding into additional opportunities. These benchmarks help keep our program grounded and focused on the big picture for what we hope to achieve and accomplish over time. We continue to reference the seven benchmarks to ensure we are meeting the goals and objectives of our program and its intended audience.
My motto has been, and will continue to be: progress, not perfection. I carry out this motto when I lead by example and encourage others to consider this along their wellbeing journey. Progress may be in the form of personal and/or professional growth at any time. For me, “walking the talk” includes practicing a balanced wellbeing through exercise, nutrition, community engagement, sleep, relationships, mindfulness and meditation and a life purpose that I am passionate about. Many practitioners may not be in a role that is formally titled as a leader, however, we all serve as leaders for and role models within our organizations, families and communities. Determination and personal values are what I focus on as a leader and are also key characteristics I advise to others within the field. I believe that if you are determined, care about the happiness and health of others and are in tune with the evolving field, you will be successful in life.
Developing workplace wellness programs and incentives has required innovative thinking and the ability to continually seek feedback. Keeping these programs relevant and fresh means collaborating and working to incorporate personal and organizational wellbeing with the business model and culture we are surrounded by. Understanding that a program and offerings cannot be one-size-fits-all has allowed the Garmin For the Health of It! program to meet the associates where they are. Examples include expanding fitness offerings and onsite walking paths, implementing organizational wellbeing policies, enhancing onsite meditation offerings, providing education opportunities for resilience and offering events for onsite acupuncture treatments to alleviate chronic pain or working to reduce personal stress. We are seeing increased utilization of workout spaces, increased annual screening visits, weight loss and best of all, personal engagement and growth of organizational culture as we strive to be a well-organization.
I think one of the greatest opportunities within the health promotion industry will continue to be collaboration and networking to create a cohesive work environment within our communities. I have spent 2016 chairing a networking forum for health promotion practitioners and professionals in the Kansas City area, which has allowed for further growth within the industry as well as leveraging one another’s successes and learning from program weaknesses. This has been an opportunity that has helped both individual programs as well as our community at large to develop and grow well-minded programs and future prospects. Using this momentum and engagement within our community, I plan to continue to support and grow both organizational and community-based wellbeing offerings that are not solely focused on the outcomes but on how the outcomes are positively impacting both individuals and communities.