A Healthier U

MAKING WORK SITE WELLNESS WORK FOR YOU

By Kate O’Farrell, M.S., Wellness Coach, PEAK Health and Fitness

Think for a moment about your current wellness goals. What are you doing to try and make wellness more a part of your daily life? That leads to the question on today’s agenda:What are you doing in your current work routine that helps foster wellness for yourself and maybe even for those around you?

When wellness is practiced intentionally in the workplace, there are many benefits that can follow: increased productivity, improved relationships among coworkers, decreased stress levels and much more. Even the smallest tweaks in daily habits can result in positive effects. The University of Utah has two wellness programs, WellU and WellnessNow, working to make work site wellness a reality for you.

PEAK Health and Fitness is an educational clinic within the College of Health. Between early May and the end of August of 2014, PEAK ran an experimental pilot work site wellness program, “All About U” at the U Health Plans Office. The purpose of this pilot was to determine how an on-site wellness program offering could help employees increase their wellness and see positive benefits in their lives. The program included the following wellness options:

• Lunch and learns: Topics varied from nutrition on the go, to mindfulness and meditation to fitness. Participants received tips and tricks, set goals and found tools to help them achieve those goals.
• Group workshops: The Living Well workshop and the Stress Management workshop were offered to help employees come together and learn skills to help develop their own wellness goals and manage the variety of stressors that they experience in life.
• Fitness classes: During the lunch hour or evenings after work, employees came together to improve their overall fitness at their own level.
• Individual wellness coaching: Wellness requires a unique approach for each individual and through individual wellness coaching, employees were able to discuss their own specific needs with a coach and find a path together.
• Monthly wellness challenges: As a fun way to encourage everyone to try something new and make little changes, a variety of challenges were introduced including an individual and group step challenge, a challenge to try a new food every day and more.

All of the listed programs were offered as optional paths for employees to participate in as a way to take part in their own wellness path. The energy created by the employees during the various experiences is something they still hold on to as part of their motivation to continue taking steps toward their goals. Here are a few quotes from individuals at University of Utah Health Plans that participated in the program:

“The convenience made a big difference. It was here at work and you didn’t have to leave to exercise – I was able to change [for the fitness classes] and go right in.”
– Dayna Shepherd

“It was such a positive atmosphere. I appreciated being able to work at my own capability without feeling like I needed to work at the level of someone next to me.”
– Denice Smith

“What worked well for me was that it was like having a personal trainer and coach. I was able to exercise with the knowledge that the instructors knew about what my specific needs were and I became empowered to understand my own body well enough to know where I could push myself harder.”
– Frances Serrano

“Being able to break up my day with a lunchtime exercise or a lunch and learn gave me more energy to finish my day.”
– Cameron Trotter

“There is a camaraderie that was built with those that I participated with. I got to know more people from different departments. Even that has helped me to be exposed to how other people are approaching their wellness and I have learned some great ideas in the process.”
– Angie McGuire

Making wellness the culture of an office can create a very positive feeling in the workplace. Even after the pilot program has finished, the participants of the program are still thinking of ideas to keep each other motivated with the tools they now have in their tool belt.

We want to hear from you. What are you doing now to help create a culture of wellness in your office? What do you think about the options above? Send an email with your thoughts to wellness@utah.edu or leave a comment below.

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