Workplace Wellness Tips for Northern Michigan Businesses

It’s one thing to practice healthy habits at home where you can fully control the culture. It’s another to carry those habits into a corporate workplace or worksite. But it can be done, and it can be embraced, at any employment location.

According to Designing Healthy Environments at Work’s website, when a workplace commits to “enhancing the culture of health within their workplace by focusing on the work environment along with organizational practices and policies, their efforts are paying off in improved employee well-being, more effective management of healthcare costs, and the ability to attract and retain top talent.”

But how does an organization get started in implementing workplace wellness? Enter Lynne DeMoor.

Lynn is a Community Health Coordinator and a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan in Harbor Springs, who coordinates projects related to healthy food and lifestyles. Not only has she been coordinating the Employee Wellness Program “LiveWell” for the past 10 years, but she also coordinates a 10-county worksite wellness project known as Building Healthy Places (formerly Getting to the Heart of the Matter in Michigan).

Along with District Health Department #10 and Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan has had 58 worksites participate in the Building Healthy Places project since 2016, and they are working with 18 more this year. The program encourages environmental changes, policy/procedure changes and educational opportunities in the workplace.

“Our focus is on worksites whose employees are on the lower end of the income spectrum and include manufacturing sites, long-term care facilities, breweries, hospitals

and schools,” Lynne explains. “Staff from our three agencies who have the training to support worksite wellness initiatives guide each site through the program that includes assessing their current worksite wellness program (if they have one), identifying next steps, prioritizing attainable steps and implementing these steps.”

Then, the Building Healthy Places project provides a stipend to imple

ment some of the identified changes—between two and three thousand dollars.

“Some of the projects have included purchasing exercise equipment, creating a lactation room, mapping out walking areas or nearby trails, increasing healthy vending options, providing lunch and learns on mindfulness, healthy eating and physical activity,” Lynne says.

“When we are able, we establish health screenings and bring in onsite programming such as the Diabetes Prevention Program,” she continues. “We partner with local providers, such as MSU Extension or local fitness organizations to teach classes and offer seminars. Sites have brought in yoga instructors, paddleboard instruction, bubble soccer and gardening expertise.”

Through a partnership with District Health Department #10, Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital is enhancing efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of its Health Care Team. The hospital received funding to promote healthy lifestyles and to offer engagement opportunities for employees. Through the grant, Manistee Hospital received educational literature and signage about nutrition and healthy habits, which is displayed in several break rooms and common areas throughout the organization. The hospital also offered a series of mindfulness and meditation sessions taught by a Social Emotional Health Educator through MSU Extension.

Workplace Wellness Tips
If you’re an organization looking to instill workplace wellness, Lynne offers these ideas.

  1. Try the “Designing Healthy Environments at Work Assessment Tool” and website. This is a great way to get a picture of what you are already doing and what you could do to move forward. Resources and ideas are available at the site as well.
  2. Survey your employees to find out what their interests are. Finding your champions and getting administration on board is key.
  3. Start small with some simple activities for meetings. This could include potlucks with a healthy focus, taking a stretch break mid-meeting and offering non-sugared beverages such as flavored water, iced tea or fruit-infused water.
  4. Promote local walking/running or other fitness events and opportunities that are happening in the community with your staff.
  5. And don’t forget to make it fun and low pressure. Look at your wellness program as a way to give people more opportunities to make healthy choices.

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