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home : columns : columns July 21, 2017

5/10/2017 1:57:00 PM
Working on wellness in the three-county area

Even with the current climate of uncertainty about the future of health care in America, we can all agree on one thing: Everyone deserves to live the healthiest life possible.
That's why Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services and Nobles County Community Services are united as Community Wellness Partners to offer free education and technical assistance to employers of all types and sizes. This assistance involves seeking opportunities to build strong cultures of health through its new Wellness Works collaborative.
Wellness Works kicks off this month, focusing on building a culture of health in the workplace by making the healthy choice the easy choice. This free yearlong program enables employers to invest in the health of their employees to reduce health care costs while improving productivity and the overall well-being of individuals.
Areas of focus include healthy eating, physical activity, breastfeeding support, tobacco cessation and employer-based lifestyle management classes. Participants will learn how to implement policy, systems and environmental changes that lead to better health for all.
A culture of health
A workplace "culture of health" is one that supports health improvement for all employees.
This type of environment enables employers to be more successful at changing unhealthy behavior, compared to a culture that ignores or appears not to value health. It's much more than providing access to health insurance or discount health club memberships. It's a larger effort that affects the entire organization - its framework, its leadership and the overall well-being of its workforce.
Why should employers care?
As just one example, diabetes costs Minnesota an estimated $3.1 billion annually.
And with 86 million Americans at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the tsunami of poor health and high costs will be staggering. Aside from the toll type 2 diabetes takes on the health and quality of life for countless Americans, the cost implications of undiagnosed and untreated type 2 diabetes are alarming.
Every organization, from small businesses to large corporations, has a culture. A healthy workplace culture values the unique personal and professional needs of each employee, resulting in employees working as a team to meet their own and the organization's needs. Upon completion of the Wellness Works collaborative, employers will know how to implement proven best practices to support employee health, thereby building a better overall culture of health.
Wellness Works is an outstanding opportunity for employers to improve the health of their employees and communities and to network with other organizations to drive positive change. When we all work together, everyone wins.
Each participant organization will be asked to attend monthly meetings, commit about 6-8 hours per month to the effort and allow for two site visits from Community Wellness Partners advisers. Best of all, Wellness Works is free and you will receive ongoing technical assistance and support along the way.
To learn more, please contact Caitlyn Gilbertson or myself at 507-831-1987. A number of specially trained advisers are looking forward to helping each employer in our communities adopt cultures of health that will serve employees today - and well into the future.

Amber Hughes is a public health educator with Community Wellness Partners, a branch of Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services.

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