Vail Valley Voices: Wellness boosts workers
Ryan Summerlin December 2, 2012
Colorado Mountain Express, Antlers at Vail, Vail Valley Partnership, and the Vail Interfaith Chapel are just as diverse a group of businesses as you can imagine.
However, despite ranging in size from less than 10 full-time employees to more than 100, the common element is their tremendous commitment to employee wellness.
These four local employers are all participating in Eagle County Public Health’s 12-week Wellness Challenge, which is sparking a little friendly competition to step up their wellness offerings.
As part of the challenge, Eagle County Public Health conducted employee surveys and provided the results to employers with a few suggestions on low- or no-cost ways to improve the workplace culture of wellness.
Businesses were free to take the advice or leave it. Some employers wanted a more structured outline, while others came to the table already knowing what they wanted to work on.
The beauty of the challenge design lies in giving employers flexibility to do what is going to work for them instead of telling everyone they have to lose a certain number of pounds or eat more vegetables.
The resulting projects reflect the diversity of the participating businesses.
Colorado Mountain Express, the largest participating employer, had to find a way to accommodate the needs of drivers, who range in age from their 20s to 70, and office staff who are on the phone constantly during the busy season.
While Colorado Mountain Express, has always focused on back health and safety, they wanted to help employees counteract the effects of prolonged sitting that affects drivers and office staff.
“Our first Lunch and Learn program featured Laina Eskin, a physical therapist from Align Vail. She provided great tools to use to counter the effects of sitting for long stretches of time, which involved inexpensive props and stretches that could be modified to each person’s needs. It was a fabulous interactive session and everyone felt better after this session,” said Claire Christensen, marketing manager.
Colorado Mountain Express, is working on exercise, improved fitness, eating healthier, weight loss, and stress reduction through weekly informational, company-wide emails and Lunch and Learn sessions on healthy eating, meditation techniques, and movement.
Rob Levine, the general manager at Antlers and an avid cyclist and wellness enthusiast, jumped at the opportunity to participate in the challenge.
“The Antlers has always tried to encourage wellness behavior for our employees, but we really appreciate Eagle County’s challenge program. It has provided exactly the right motivation that we needed to crank our previous efforts up to a new level,” said Levine.
Antlers is engaging employees around healthy eating through cooking demos and connecting Spanish-speaking staff to mental health resources.
While the Vail Interfaith Chapel doesn’t have a formal wellness program, they wanted to demonstrate commitment to both physical and spiritual well-being by sharing resources around healthy eating and changing habits by anchoring them to life values. Already offering a meditation group, a “no doughnut” policy or weight loss group could go a long way in supporting employees’ health and fitness goals.
Vail Valley Partnership decided to participate not in competition for the final prize, but just for fun. And what could be more fun than training for the Office Olympics? With a “training calendar” full of days like Monday Mile, Tone-up Tuesday and Fit Friday exercises, the Partnership office is going to be busy getting in the habit of adding small amounts of movement throughout the day.
The week is rounded out by Wellness Wednesday to focus on healthy eating and Time-Out Thursday to focus on mental health and stress reduction. The training will culminate with fun office games that are more for camaraderie than competition.
So what’s the point of all of this? Aside from being entered to win a prize, each of the participating employers is taking a great step toward a better office culture with happier and healthier employees.
Doing something for your employees’ wellness is the best way to tell employees you care, and that investment is returned with lower health care costs, improved productivity, and most importantly, a more fun and vibrant working environment.
The Vail Valley Health and Wellness Initiative is led by the Vail Valley Partnership in conjunction with like-minded businesses, trade associations, consumer organizations and economic development organizations whose goal is to increase medical groups and meetings in the Vail Valley and bring greater awareness to the ample world-class health, recreation and wellness opportunities available to locals and guests to drive economic vitality.
Jamie Pfahl is a public health associate with Eagle County Public Health.