At Springbrook, over 1,200 employees work hard each day to deliver compassionate care and support to people of all ages with developmental disabilities from across the state of New York. Our work is centered on maintaining the healthiest, safest, most inclusive environments for the people we support. To that end, we know that healthy people often encourage healthy behavior in the environments around them. As an employee’s lifestyle becomes healthier, so does his or her attitude toward making and promoting healthy choices, which can greatly influence the diet and exercise levels of the individuals they support. This is why one of the many benefits we provide our employees is the Springbrook Health and Wellness Program.
According to a recent internal survey, Springbrook’s Health and Wellness program has a 70% satisfaction rating. The survey also revealed that 94% of those who participated in the program agreed that healthy habits contribute to better productivity at work. As one of our Community Homes Residential Supervisors says: “The Wellness Program is a great tool in our personal and professional lives. It gives us direction and a realistic approach on how to [live healthier] with small steps that make huge differences…it’s been fun learning and hearing real stories. There are no gimmicks—just support.”
The strength of Springbrook’s Health and Wellness Program is primarily due to careful budgeting and creativity, which ensures we get the most out of every dollar invested in the program. Springbrook has succeeded and we want other organizations to have the same experience. Here are some of our tips on how to create an effective, fiscally responsible employee wellness program:
- Create a Wellness or Health Promotion Committee that includes staff members from each program or department within your organization, who can act as representatives for their respective groups. Most of Springbrook’s committee members attend monthly meetings in person. However, our organization is spread out over a large geographical area, so for those who cannot be physically present, they have the option of teleconferencing.
- Our Health and Wellness team has been able to build relationships with local fitness centers and retailers to provide discounts for our employees. Consider doing the same by reaching out to local businesses for free health-related promotional items, gym discounts, or low-cost wellness presentation opportunities.
- Educate and provide direction for employees who wish to quit smoking. New York State is one of the many states that offer free smoking cessation tools for its residents. Springbrook has helped several employees quit smoking by working with them to understand how to achieve a smoke-free lifestyle using the method they have chosen.
- Consider offering fitness classes for either free or discounted rates. To absorb the costs associated with hiring instructors, check with your company’s health insurance broker or carrier to see if there are partial or full reimbursements available. Another way to save money is to share the cost with employees. If space allows, a great way to save money is to have the classes or exercise space right at your work location. For example, Springbrook recently furnished an empty classroom at our school with donated exercise equipment and converted the space into a staff gym.
- If you have vending machines at your organization, replace sugary drinks and salty snacks with healthy alternatives. Springbrook recently did this and added stickers indicating the healthier options, giving people the power to make informed decisions.
- Provide educational materials and coaching sessions on healthy living topics. For example, distribute a regular Health and Wellness e-newsletter packed with helpful resources and wellness advice. At Springbrook, we share a monthly e-newsletter that is full of helpful information about employee wellness. We also provide coaching sessions for groups and individuals on a variety of topics.
- Promote a “Take the Stairs” campaign or sponsor a “Biggest Loser” competition. Springbrook placed “Take the Stairs” posters near elevators and staircase entrances as an inexpensive way to remind employees to take the healthier route. Springbrook also provides an opportunity for employees to take part in an annual “Biggest Loser” challenge. This is done in partnership with a local fitness center, which has agreed to provide the program to staff at a discounted rate.
Here at Springbrook, we recognize that creating the right Health and Wellness program is a continually evolving process. With an active, hands-on approach that includes consistent feedback and evaluation, we can tailor a program that meets employees’ needs. We aim to provide a culture of healthy living for both our staff and the individuals we support. With the recommendations above, your organization can contribute to an empowered, positive lifestyle for your employees, just as we have done.
Springbrook provides at-home care, residential and educational services, day services, and clinical, therapeutic, and behavioral supports to over 850 people with developmental disabilities from across New York State. The organization is Otsego County’s third largest employer with over 1,200 employees. Visit us online at www.springbrookny.org or call 607.286.7171 for more information.
DeAnna Backus is Assistant Director of Human Resources, Employee Benefits at Springbrook; Mitzi Sackett, CPC is Health Promotion Specialist at IgniteHealth; and Christy Jaromack, is Content Specialist at Springbrook.