Dakota County and HealthSource Solutions hosted seven Worksite Wellness Collaborative meetings for 12 worksites, between March 2014–October 2015.
The goal of the collaborative was to guide worksites that are new to wellness initiatives through the development and implementation of policy, systems and environmental changes to support the health of their workforce. Throughout the collaboration, Dakota County and HealthSource Solutions provided technical assistance to workplaces by advising them on best practices in workplace wellness.
New funding available for worksites
Partner with Dakota County and Healthsource Solutions to implement changes and receive startup funding to help continue your wellness initiatives. Applications are currently being accepted for the upcoming Worksite Wellness collaborative cycle (Nov. 1, 2017-Oct. 31, 2019). The deadline for submission is Nov. 22, 2017. For more information, see the Promote a Culture of Health brochure.
Ideal characteristics for a participating worksite:
- Has no wellness program in place or would like to enhance current program
- Employs fewer than 300 employees
- Employs staff who are at higher risk for health disparities (older adults, low income, and/or diverse workforce)
- Can provide company contact for this project (about 6 hours per month for a primary contact)
- Is looking to enhance workplace policy and environment
- Has interest in creating a sustainable wellness program
Supporting health and wellness at Guild Incorporated
Guild Incorporated took steps to increase physical activity at the workplace to support the health and wellness of their staff. The company’s wellness committee started new initiatives to help staff be physically active:
- Developed custom walking maps for each location including routes around the building for 10, 20 and 30 minute walks.
- Activity cards are given to each employee and include simple exercises staff can do at their desk.
- Fifty-four people joined a “challenge event” designed to encourage participation in physical activity.
The president of Guild Incorporated, Grace Tangjerd Schmitt said, “It was fun to experience staff participating in a movement break where we, as a collective group of nearly 150 people, took a few minutes during a half-day training to breathe deeply and stretch — putting into practice the importance of incorporating wellness in to our day.”
Increasing physical activity in the workplace can benefit employees and the companies they work for. Programs that promote wellness have the potential to “increase employees’ productivity, reduce absenteeism, and increase morale, ” according to the Centers for Disease Control, and can help recruit and retain quality employees, according to Johns Hopkins. Opportunities for any amount of activity during the work day can help employees reach the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) each week.
Welcoming staff at public schools who are breastfeeding
The Minnesota Department of Health recognized Hastings Public Schools as a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace for their work in supporting breastfeeding moms.
The district updated breastfeeding/lactation support guidelines and created a dedicated lactation space for nursing mothers at each school. The rooms are furnished with a comfortable chair and cleaning materials, covered windows and privacy locks.
Farmington Area Public Schools also set up lactation rooms at all eight schools in the district and created an information packet for new mothers who are returning to the workplace.
One new mom commented, “My employer has been very supportive, providing both the time and facilities needed. It is because of this support that I have been able to and plan to continue to pump throughout my child's first year of life.”
Supporting working women in their efforts to breastfeed is healthy for the mother and baby. To get the most benefits, it is recommended that babies receive nothing but breastmilk for the first six months of life. Currently, one-third working mothers return to work within three months after birth and two-thirds return within six months, according to the CDC. Providing space to pump or breastfeed helps mothers provide this healthy benefit to their babies for longer.