ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Jody Zauha

Health Matters, State of Idaho .

It is a gift to be given the opportunity to influence an individual’s health and wellbeing. I take the responsibility to manage the Health Matters Program very seriously. As the Health Matters Program Manager for the State of Idaho, Division of Professional-Technical Education, I designed and implemented the web-based wellness program for state employees seven years ago – and I haven’t stopped growing it! During those seven years as the Health Matters Program Manager I have provided wellness education outreach annually to over 18,000 State of Idaho employees via the Health Matters website, bi-monthly wellness e-newsletters, and the Blog.

Professional Development

I hold a Masters in Instructional & Performance Technology and a Bachelors in Social Work. I am a licensed Social Worker and a Certified Wellcoach through Wellcoaches of America. I am a proud WELCOA Faculty Member.

My passion for wellness started as a medical Social Worker. I also worked as an HR Manager and as an OD Specialist, helping state agencies create change through learning opportunities. I have a unique combination of skills…medical social work, adult learning, marketing, networking, and web-based performance technology. These skills, combined with my passion for wellness, led me to create the Health Matters Program.

Demonstrated Success

Health Matters is making a vital contribution to State of Idaho employee health and wellness. The website, e-newsletters, and blog bring employee wellness to life and motivate employees to get involved in their health. The emphasis of the website changes monthly; topics are relevant and fresh. Emphasis is on lifestyle choices, chronic disease prevention, medical self-care, nutrition, stress reduction, tobacco cessation, credible health resources, success stories, worksite resources, and local opportunities that link employees with their community resources.

The impact of the Health Matters program is seen in the numbers. Average annual website hits have risen from 247,871 in 2008 to 2,612,944 in 2014. Average monthly unique visitors has also risen from 5,065 in 2008 to 8,168 in 2014.

The twice monthly Health Matters e-newsletters, which I design with colorful graphics and a twist of humor, motivate employees to get involved in their health. I promote personal responsibility, encouraging employees to build on their success and take the next step toward better health. Having the newsletter publish twice monthly, keeps the wellness message visible. The blog provides yet another way for employees to interact with wellness.

There has been a recent shift in culture among state agencies. Management and employees are more interested in the wellbeing of the whole person at work. Wellness was recently integrated into the State of Idaho employee benefit plan through a program called ThriveIdaho which incentivizes healthy employee behaviors.

WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks provided valuable guideposts for the Health Matters Program.

Capturing senior level support requires ongoing communication and data sharing. I crafted a program Mission in 2008 and continue to evaluate it, meeting with key players at various levels of government.
I created cohesive wellness teams by establishing a Wellness Contact in participating agencies statewide. Those agency “champions of wellness” are central to the success of Health Matters. I communicate with them twice monthly and serve as a consultant to those who want to launch a new worksite program.

Collecting data to drive health efforts is critical to program success. I have collected website data on monthly web hits, unique web users, pages most frequently viewed, and documents frequently downloaded. I review data monthly, adjusting web content accordingly.
I crafted an operating plan for wellness in 2007 and continue to hone that plan which provides direction and prioritization of my projects.

I know my audience. Workplace demographics have helped me choose appropriate interventions (fitness challenges, clinics, lunch and learns). For example, with an average age demographic of 46, program emphasis is concentrated more on chronic disease than on young families.
Creating a supportive environment was accomplished through ongoing monthly communication with agency Wellness Contacts, surveying their needs, providing individual consultation, and maintaining a visible presence through the website, e-newsletters, and the blog.

Wellness is a huge field with many opportunities. Setting goals, focusing efforts, and consistently evaluating outcomes makes a good program better. I have strategically evaluated which interventions have the largest impact on employee participation while garnering the support of upper management.


I created a sustainable wellness program from the ground up, jumping in with a can-do attitude. I modeled strategies that can be replicated by organizations including utilizing networks of local providers and creating an employee-focused program. Health Matters is about employees – caring for them and connecting them with local resources:

Armed with resources, I provide wellness consultation to outside organizations on how to begin to build a wellness program.

I participate in over 20 community/statewide wellness committees and I search for local resources our state employees can use.

Resources that helped me achieve leadership status include my education, healthcare background, WELCOA faculty status, Wellcoaches certification, humor, and my passion for wellness. Most days you will see me wearing my pedometer with water and veggies in hand, modeling healthy habits!


In creating the Health Matters Program, my goal was to give employees a customized Idaho-based wellness program versus a “big box” wellness program. I wanted the program to provide relevant, credible, focused health information. A large part of the success of Health Matters is it meets the need of the employee; it breaks health topics down into accessible chunks and makes resources personal by connecting employees to their local providers.

I took a three-prong approach:

  • Created a wellness website that is updated monthly with topics relevant to the employee demographic
  • Created a wellness e-newsletter that is delivered to the employee’s desktop twice monthly
  • Created a blog for employees who want to share wellness ideas and experiences.
  • In a time of “big box” is better, this three-pronged Idaho-based program has made it easier for employees to own their health and wellness journey. The website data proves the interest.

    Compelling Vision

    My vision for workplace health promotion is that it is a standard, funded piece of every industry’s business plan. Wellness is woven into meetings, new projects, and ongoing activities and it is supported by the organization’s mission/vision. It is how we do business.

    Challenges to this vision over the next five years include limited budgets, an aging population, helping management focus their wellness vision, establishing a stronger workplace health promotion focus in the Affordable Care Act, matching appropriate wellness programs to different business cultures, establishing intrinsic motivation for behavior change, and always being ready to move the needle to the next big thing.

    Over the next five years, my program emphasis will shift to managing chronic disease in the workplace, increasing group wellness coaching opportunities, and bringing the family into the wellness vision….all of this without losing sight of the importance of the individual employee.




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Jody Z.
I am the Health Matters Program Manager for State of Idaho Employees. I enjoyed the challenge of designing the Health Matters Wellness Program from the ground up. I keep worksite wellness visible, relevant, and accessible to over 18,000 employees via the Health Matters website and blog, bi-monthly wellness e-newsletters, and over 115 agency-based Wellness Contacts. I believe in the impact wellness initiatives can have on organizational success and on employee effectiveness. My background is in medical social work, human resources, management training and consultation, and instructional design. My Masters is in Instructional and Performance Technology. I am a Certified Wellcoach. View Jody Z.'s Profile.
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Comments 16

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As a new employee in Jody's agency, I really enjoy having the Health Matters program. None of my previous workplaces have had anything like this. Jody does a wonderful job with the website, blog and newsletter. She keeps the information interesting, well organized, easy to access and always ensures that she uses only the most credible sources. I am so glad to have Jody and the Health Matters program in my office! Dani M.

Dani M. on 11/20/2014

I had the privilege of collaborating with Jody on numerous projects while living in Idaho. Jody puts her heart and soul into every project she undertakes to achieve excellent results. Wellness is her passion, and that is especially evident in her excellent Health Matters e-newsletters. Jody not only devotes her time and energy into researching and sharing the latest wellness trends and resources, but with every story of success and triumph over hurdles she is there to celebrate with you and give kind encouragement to keep going. With Jody's enthusiasm, you automatically want to do better--she has amazing talent. That's the power of making permanent changes in one's lifestyle, and the goal wellness initiatives across the nation strive to achieve. The many testimonies in the newsletters are proof that Jody's robust wellness program achieves positive results. I live in Austin, Texas, and the Health Matters e-newsletters give me the motivation to maintain a recent weight loss and get our necessary wellness checks and screenings. When tempted to revert into old, unhealthy habits, I will review one of Jody's e-newsletters, and I'm back to making the right, healthy choices. As I write this, I just passed up the big bowl of chocolates on my coworker's desk and grabbed my apple for a snack. Thank you, Jody, for all your hard work and dedication to promote healthy habits, to help us live better, healthier and longer lives. Please know your program is getting good results deep in the heart of Texas! -Julie J.

Julie J. on 11/06/2014

Health Matters has even reached the UK! I confess to a family connection with Jody, but I work for the UK Food Standards Agency and have passed Health Matters on to colleagues in the Department of Health, who have been impressed. A lot of the issues raised are of interest to us, notably on allergies (FSA) and Nutrition (DoH and Public Health England). John D.

John D. on 11/06/2014

Jody does a wonderful job as Wellness Coordinator. She has been an inspiration and help to me as wellness coordinator in my agency. She is always willing to lend a hand, offer up ideas and suggestions. I love to brainstorm ideas with her! Jody is very devoted to the anything related to wellness. She is just an amazing individual with such a can-do attitude.

Paula R. on 11/03/2014

Jody is very dedicated to the Health and Wellness program here in Idaho. She works hard to make sure everyone is well informed about what's available for the employees (classes, programs, etc) and she encourages anyone who is trying to make changes in his or her life style and health. We couldn't do it without her enthusiasm and concern for others. Donna S.

Donna S. on 10/30/2014

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