Staci is an Employee Health & Productivity Specialist for the Weld County Government. She has had 26 years of experience coordinating wellness efforts for the public sector. Weld County currently employees 1,400 people.
I received a BS in Exercise & Sport Science with an emphasis in Corporate Wellness from Colorado State University and a MPH from the University of Northern Colorado. I am a certified WELCOA Faculty member and a Wellness and Fitness Coach through Wellcoaches. I entered into the field of health promotion because it was the perfect blend of business and health. The opportunity to work with individuals at the worksite doing the things I love – educate, exercise, and experience the human condition through coaching keep me excited and determined in seeking healthy solutions for the individual and the bottom line.
In 2008 the safety and wellness committee at Weld County was challenged with developing a more comprehensive program to impact health insurance costs. We introduced the program to employees via awareness campaigns on the importance of knowing your numbers, physical activity, and healthy eating and coupled it with a point-based incentive program. Participants were able to identify areas for self-health improvement, seek free or low-cost resources, and capitalize on current positive health behaviors. We joined forces with our on-site employee medical clinic to provide services and resources to our workforce, too. We have averaged a 50% enrollment rate into the program with 40% of those participants earning the financial incentive. In 2012 we worked with WELCOA using their EconoHealth ROI tool and learned that we had achieved a $2.27:$1 benefit-cost ratio.
The primary risk factor that we have focused on as it can positively impact our other risks of depression, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, is physical inactivity. To support opportunities for physical activity our Public Works department helped create two walking paths connecting our campus buildings with a local trail system as well as an indoor track in their truck building that is available to employees during the day. We also wanted to introduce employees to the idea that fitness can be fun and thus created our signature event, the Weld County Commissioners Cup 5k. This has allowed employees to interact with our Board in a positive and light-hearted manner. The event is strictly open to employees and their family members without any of the related fees associated with community events. After completing her first 5k, one employee commented, “I thought those 5ks were only for professional runners. I had no idea so many people came out and walked them!” This employee has now done several in the community and encourages her friends and co-workers whom she’s met doing other races. Our signature event is lead by the efforts of our wellness champion team and allows us to truly garner the support of our leadership. This “community” effort within has caught the attention of many department heads and elected officials within our organization and they are now contacting Human Resources for assistance in developing programs and interventions to address their workforce issues such as work-related injuries, low morale, and presenteeism.
Our efforts were recognized by our insurance carrier, Cigna, in July this year when Weld County was notified that we were one of three top recipients for the “Cigna Well-Being Award” for our employer group size. This award coupled with our positive ROI, work with our employee medical clinic and benefit design has resulted in our first ZERO trend year as employees are fortunate to receive a 0% increase in their health insurance premiums for 2015.
It is the vision of the Weld County Safety and Wellness committee to provide the tools to build an active body, the support to develop an active mind and the passion to provide active service.
Active Bodies, Active Minds, and Active Service.
Leading with passion and a common purpose has been the key to our success. I am fortunate to lead 25 volunteers who serve as wellness champions and department representatives in developing programs that demonstrate our passion for healthy lifestyles for the common goal of a healthy organization. Each individual is unique in what he/she is passionate about. We have gardeners, team & individual sport enthusiasts, pet lovers, world travelers, readers, and we all have fun. As a runner I lead a couch to 5k group each summer in preparation for our signature event, our annual employee appreciation 5k crawl, walk, or run. As a leader I share our purpose with department heads and elected officials. Together we help departments reduce injuries, improve morale, and develop teams united for a healthy and productive workforce. For those entering the field my advice is to love what you do and let it show! Be innovative, be creative, and don’t stop learning and exploring.
We took the cliché “think outside of the box” and did just that! We completed a pilot project that took small amounts of participant’s time on a daily basis and gave them skills and tools to reduce daily stress, increase resiliency, decrease bodily pain, and improve lifestyle behaviors. With the help of peer leaders, participants learned stability and mobility movements and tips about leading a healthy lifestyle. Participants experienced an overall reduction in bodily pain by 44%, 30% in the low back, and 100% in the wrist; shoulder mobility and core strength increased by 58% and 26%, respectively; a 45.5% reduction in personal stress and 23.5 % in work stress and a 6% reduction in diastolic blood pressure. They also experienced increases in fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity and we achieved a $1.67:$1 return on investment. This approach may be applied within many departments within our organization.
The next 5 years will bring great opportunity for the industry. I am optimistic that we will reach a summit where as practitioners we can pursue a variety of evidence-based approaches that will result in not only a positive return on investment, but also a return on value. It will be important to continue to share best practices and strategies. I have created a group in my community, “Well in Weld”, that meets quarterly. We have wellness professionals from within our local health systems and businesses who share programming, tools, and seek assistance from others to better their programs. Eventually we plan to recognize local wellness champions from our various organizations and celebrate them as a community with a gathering of elected officials, business leaders, family, and peers. Wellness may begin as a single step from a few individuals, but together will grow to become our community’s walk.