Why should you include your community as a key component of your worksite wellness initiative? For starters, a healthy community benefits everyone – employees, residents, businesses and local organizations. Community collaboration extends wellness beyond your building to where people live, learn and play. It helps you create an effective, comprehensive and sustainable initiative surrounded by a supportive environment.
At Working on Wellness we call this group effort Partnering for a Healthy Workforce. It means that your organization, your employees and your community are all partners in creating and maintaining a healthy workforce. Through Working on Wellness, participants learn to define their communities and then get to know their communities. As a result, participants have formed diverse partnerships that benefit their organizations and the community at large.
The following examples of nutrition-focused partnerships show how Working on Wellness participants partner with their communities for a healthy workforce:
The Town of Stoughton is a Massachusetts residential community of 27,000 located halfway between Boston and Providence. The municipality has about 1,200 employees. In an effort to meet its goal of supporting employees in improving nutrition and managing weight, the town developed a partnership with the local team of The Daily Dinner. The Dinner Daily provides plans for easy to make dinners for couples and families, shopping lists and links to coupons at local supermarkets. The town is offering this service to help employees build skills to improve nutrition and manage weight. It also serves as a fundraising effort for the Stoughton schools and a business driver for local supermarkets.
Prince Lobel Tye is a busy law firm located in Boston with a focus on providing legal counsel in a wide range of practice areas and industries. One of the firm’s goals is to help employees make healthier food and beverage choices at work. A healthy catering policy and a new LeanBox vending program are providing employees opportunities to make more nutritious choices. The wellness committee has partnerships with local restaurants that are preparing delicious fresh food daily. Menus are collected and shared thereby benefiting Prince Lobel Tye employees as well as the catering and take out businesses of the local community restaurant partners.
You First promotes the wellbeing of Springfield Partners for Community Action (SPCA) employees through education and programs that inspire and empower individuals to put their health first. The wellness committee looks to the community to help reach the organization’s goal of improving access to nutritious food and beverages choices and empowering staff to reach and maintain healthy weights. The committee built upon its existing relationship with Health New England, SPCA’s insurance provider. The result was a series of weight management and nutrition education classes for staff. Local chefs helped employees put their knowledge into action through skill building Soul Food cooking classes. Gardening the Community helped SPCA improve access to fruits and vegetables with a mobile market. Healthy choices in vending and in the organization’s cafeteria rounded out its comprehensive plan for improving nutrition and managing weight.
All these partnerships are great to have. They are creating healthier, more prosperous communities. Think about your organization. What partnerships has your organization developed in the past? What were the benefits? What opportunities do you have to build on existing partnerships or create new ones?