ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Penny Paul

Wellness Under the "Big Sky"!

Current Company - City-County Health Department
Job Title - Community Health Education Specialist
Industry Type - Public Health
Years in the Field - Five years
Organization Size – 60 employees, but work with City of Great Falls sites which has 500 employees

Penny Pic

~~1. Professional Development
A. University of Montana – BS, Social Work/honors
B. WELCOA Faculty Member
C. State of Montana 2012 Excellence in Worksite Health Promotion Bronze Award Winner, Colon Cancer Alliance “December 2013 Hero”, City of Great Falls wellness teams recognized in 2014 CDC Action Guide; “Increasing Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening to Facilitate Evidenced-Based Strategies”, 2014 Montana Health Hero Award
D. My goal was to do health promotion full time. I applied for a health promotion job at the local health department when I moved back to Montana and was hired!
E. WELCOA’s certifications –I can’t do my work without them!

2. Demonstrated Success
One of the most successful interventions was Public Works “Fitness that Works” from Sean Foy. They used this not only as a physical activity campaign, but safety as well. They had 36 employees participate which was amazing for that site. The City of Great Falls Public Works Department is comprised of approximately 120 employees. Eight are women.  Ages range from 19 to 62. Employees have a high school education to Master's Degrees - wide range of backgrounds and education levels.
Health Status Improvements:  Employees became more aware of their fitness levels and encouraged them to set their own personal goals. For the period of June 2012 to December 2012, the site had four worker comp claims in the division which had the majority of the “Fitness That Works” participants.  These claims were for repetitive motion and muscle strains. For the period of June 2013 to December 2013 there were two worker comp claims. The site completed the “Fitness that Works” campaign in June 2013 so claims decreased.
Behavior Change:  Employees who never participated in a wellness incentive did! Some of the employees were skeptical until they did the first activity which was “balance”. They realized they needed improvement no matter what their age. The participation level demonstrated that employees were engaged and excited about trying something new. Only one individual left the program because they quit their job. Participants have taken what they learned from Sean’s information to use in their jobs and daily lives.
Culture Change:  It allowed employees to get to know each other on a different level than just their job title. The social aspect was so important for this group. The group was engaged and motivated to learn the moves. These programs will continue to contribute to a higher performing worksite. The peer pressure is also changing with the new and younger employees signing up for wellness activities.

Seven Benchmarks Implementation
Receive senior level support from City of Great Falls City leadership
Cohesive wellness teams
Collected data using leadership, culture, employee surveys, HRA information
Teams craft operating plans using the “Well Workplace University Planning Matrix” and developed a city wellness logo to give them a corporate wellness identity.
When choosing appropriate interventions teams have done WELCOA campaigns or create own programs – data indicate physical activity, stress management, and nutrition are biggest needs for employees
Supportive environments have been created by consistent messaging – healthy by choice, not by chance, small changes make big differences, eat right for life, easy, fun, flexible, health at any size, biometric screenings with gift cards, evidenced-based information, promote walking, walking maps developed by teams, cancer prevention, lunch and learns with subject experts, changes in policy for scheduling shift work/promoting physical activity for those in jobs where exercise can be challenging at GFPD Communication’s Bureau, healthy vending, break rooms improved, healthy snacks and stretch brakes at meetings
Consistently evaluate outcomes for result-driven programs - participation, participant satisfaction, behavior/culture change and cost considerations, good PR from TV/Newspaper

3. Leadership
I try to “walk the wellness talk” in my daily life and communicate the importance of a healthy lifestyle no matter what age or fitness level.

First and foremost, I could not do my job and understand this field without WELCOA. The Seven Benchmarks have been vital in moving the needle with my local worksites. I am currently providing the Montana Cancer Control Program technical assistance in worksite wellness for our contractors in twelve other counties. The MCCP is also paying WELCOA memberships for the contractors! I also serve on “Get Fit Great Falls” and we developed a wellness toolbox for local employers which includes WELCOA information and of course the Seven Benchmarks!

To be effective in this field, I would encourage individuals to join WELCOA, attend the webinars and conferences, choose what they really want to do within the field and where they are gifted, glean from others, and help others be successful.

4. Innovation
Teams choose two wellness objectives a year so we can measure results
Encouraged to use individual gifts to create programs besides the fantastic WELCOA campaigns
Conduct in-services with information I receive from WELCOA and other leaders in the industry. This inspires all of the teams to continually think out of the box to enhance employee engagement. I am constantly reading and researching.

Civic Center wellness team designed a fun and positive 12-week campaign called “Spring Takeoff 2013” (and again in 2014). Great info and incentives provided. Program is documented so can share with other sites. They followed-up with “Don’t Gain, Maintain” with monthly weigh-ins, physical activity motivators, healthy recipes, and motivating emails.

Health Status Improvement –15 participants lost 152.1 lbs. over 12 weeks.
Behavior change – Awareness about mindless eating, healthy food selections, portion control
Culture change – improved social support, evidenced-based information vs. fad information, variety of physical activity encouraged

5. Compelling Vision
I feel the next five years are full of exciting opportunities for health promotion. Two important ones are to educate leaders on the importance of worksite wellness in their organization and continue to build social support and employee engagement at worksites.

If health care costs are second to payroll, it is imperative that health promotion is a part of an organization’s business plan. I think employers are open and ready for ideas!

Employees can also become very isolated at work with their friends being a phone and computer rather than people. We have the privilege of helping transform worksite cultures and change lives.  What can be better than healthy and engaged employees!

I want to continue to grow health promotion programs in my community and around the state of Montana, and promote WELCOA to other wellness professionals. My goal is to empower wellness teams and be their cheerleader!


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Penny Pic Creating Fun During Colon Cancer Awareness Month Public Works "Fitness That Works Campaign" Public Works "Fitness That Works Campaign" Public Works "Fitness That Works Campaign"
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Penny P.
1974 Graduate of University of Montana in Social Work w/Honors, Social work with children and families until 1986, 1987-2008 employed with Weyerhaeuser Company Office of Corporate Contributions/Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation until company downsizing in 2008. From 2009-current working for the City-County Health Department in Great Falls MT in worksite health promotion with City of Great Falls sites, JCCS Accounting Firm, City-County Health Department and the Community Health Care Center. Also provides worksite wellness technical assistance for the Montana Cancer Control Program in twelve counties in the State of Montana. View Penny P.'s Profile.
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Dedicated. Passionate. Creative. Caring, Inspiring. These are just a few of the adjectives I use when describing Penny. The positive impact Penny has had on our organization is immeasurable. I'm honored to work with her. Penny is so valuable to our wellness committee and wellness initiatives! She attends every committee meeting. She does onsite presentations, arranges for other speakers, involves the media, and brings a wealth of resources directly to our wellness committees as requested. She attends and supports ALL of our wellness events, offering really clever ideas and implementing them herself when we don't have the resources. She has been instrumental in helping us to design a program that we are all very proud of. She is a true partner in every way. Penny is a dedicated and selfless wellness professional, who finds the positives in everything. Her passion for wellness and positivity rubs off on all of us. Penny is infectious to work with and always goes the extra mile to help us implement the Seven Benchmarks and Health Matters tools with our employees. She helps us make sure the evidence based information is presented in ways that are appealing and engaging for staff. We appreciate and enjoy Penny and the work she does to keep our City of Great Falls employees healthy and happy! Thanks for providing the needed motivation to so many people!! No one deserves this more than you do! Thank You! Rene - City of Great Falls Wellness Team

Rene K. on 10/25/2014

Hi Penny, All the best with your contest entry. Your achievements, innovation and leadership in Workplace Wellness within your organization is most impressive. Congratulations! I would love to connect with you offline to chat more about your programs and services as I am seeking interested and talented Workplace Wellness Professionals like yourself as guest presenters/facilitators for our online Ambassador Certification program. Additionally, I would most welcome a case study of your organization's successes for a KWC International White Paper on Workplace Wellness Perspectives, Best Practices, & Case Studies that we are currently developing. With permission, these papers will also become case studies for our soon to be launched Certification Program providing further recognition to your amazing successes. Please contact me at if either of these opportunities are of interest to you. I look forward to connecting in the near future!

Lisa K. on 10/09/2014

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