I currently work as the Wellness Coordinator for Harvest Land Cooperative and its subsidiaries, AgQuest and Northland Capital. The three companies provide a diverse group of roughly 200 employees from leasing and financing industries to a grain elevator with many over the road employees. I have been working in the wellness field for about 5 years.
My interest in wellness started when I began my own fitness/wellness journey. After training for several months I became a certified instructor. I led a local fitness class and later brought that fitness and nutritional knowledge into the workplace. I didn’t have any formal training when I started, simply the articles and books that I read on my own. It wasn’t until after I joined WELCOA and became a certified WELCOA Faculty member that I realized this was my passion. I have since enrolled in college courses to further my degree and better secure my place in the industry.
Our most successful intervention has been the restructuring of our wellness program. Like many companies we had a small non-diverse committee and thought we could do fun challenges, push for activity and everyone would be engaged and well. This didn’t happen as easily as we had hoped so we reached out to our resources and as the director I joined WELCOA and began training. This helped us immensely as we started down a new path and direction.
We utilized the 7 Benchmarks to help pave this path. We started at the top with gaining support from our senior management team. The existing wellness team along with the CEO, GM and President all contributed to defining the wellness mission statement and initiatives. Working together as a team helped foster a supportive environment and clear objective. With that it was determined that we need to expand our wellness team. We expanded our team to be more diverse, to include champions from all areas and divisions within our company. We grew from 4 or 5 ladies leading the program to 15 diverse members: male, female, managers, non-managers, etc. Expanding this committee to include peers from all areas was vital in gaining the trust and support from our staff. Once we had the champions in place we were then better equipped to collect data, develop our operating plan and put forth the appropriate interventions for our employees.
Since we revamped our committee and started putting the benchmarks to good use we have started seeing positive results. We have definitely changed the culture within all three of our companies. We see this through the increased engagement from employees as we offer programs and offerings as well as through nutritional offerings company wide. We now offer healthy options when we have company catered meals and have eliminated the rolls that we used as a staple of celebration. We are also seeing a behavior change with an increase in employee participation in our gym reimbursement, volunteer program and our Weight Watchers at Work program. Our employees are seeing the benefits and becoming engaged. We are eager to do the 2nd annual biometric screenings in a couple months to see improved numbers from the year prior.
I believe it’s important to lead by example; both inside and outside of work I live my life in a healthy manner. I live an active lifestyle, I work-out regularly and I eat nutritious meals and snacks, but beyond nutrition and exercise I also attend church, participate in community activities and volunteer. As a leader for our wellness committee and those around me I must be the example of the messages I send out.
Becoming a WELCOA Faculty member and leading a community fitness class have both attributed to my success. WELCOA gives me the knowledge and confidence to promote good health and working within the community has shown my commitment to helping others.
My advice to those that want to become leaders in the field is to arm yourself with knowledge and never give up. Sometimes the road you travel has many hills to climb but if you have the passion and desire to help others you must persevere.
Advocate, Listen and be flexible. After hearing some ladies talking about wanting to join a weight loss program but not being able to make it to the evening meetings I decided to look further into it and brought the program to the workplace. In the first 12 weeks of the program offering we had 12 members lose over 160 pounds, the success of the initial session has allowed us to continue bringing the program to work. Listening to what was needed, seeking out opportunities and advocating on their behalf was key in boosting morale & promoting wellness.
It is also important to be flexible, the same efforts do not work for everyone and it’s okay to do different things for different positions and areas in the company. Once we adapted this mentality we seen the participation and culture change even more. Employees felt better understood and more appreciated.
I think the health promotion industry is going to grow immensely over the next five years. With the rise of health care costs and the decline in our populations health people are seeing that they need to seek out change. People want to become healthier and happier individuals. We see this with increased health trends like health tracking devices, healthier options at restaurants, mobile apps, and the increase in community 5K’s and marathons. People want to be active and healthy. Many people don’t know how to start, don’t have time or give up; the health industry has an opportunity to reach out and educate people on how to make healthy choices work for their lifestyle.
To help advance the industry my plan is to coach and educate those co-workers and community members around me on how to achieve healthy balance in their lives.