Ecumen Detroit Lakes recently was recognized as one of the initial participants in the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Year of Worksite Wellness program.
At a recent kickoff event, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued a proclamation declaring 2014 as the “Year of Worksite Wellness” and mention Ecumen Detroit Lakes among a group of model employers already actively engaged in creating healthy workplaces. Among others called out for special mention were LifeTime Fitness, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and The Schwan Food Company.
Janet Green, executive director of Ecumen Detroit Lakes, said her campus has been engaged in a number of initiatives to support staff wellness including office exercise programs, fitness challenges, healthy food options and a quit-smoking program. She said the campus will be going totally smoke-free June 1, 2014. (Currently there are designated outside smoking areas.)
“We value our employees, and we want to do all we can to help them stay healthy and fit,” Green said, pointing out that Ecumen’s company-wide “Wellness Works” program is a foundation supporting many of the Detroit Lakes activities.
Workplace wellness is a growing movement according to Susan Bishop, Minnesota Department of Health Worksite Wellness Planner. “Businesses are excited about worksite wellness for two very good reasons,” Bishop says. “First, employers care about their employees. They are your friends and neighbors, and we all want the people in our lives to be strong and healthy. Second, it saves money.” Bishop points out that poor employee health is correlated with an over 50 percent decrease in overall productivity, costing companies nationally an estimated $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee per year.
MDH is involved in worksite wellness in several areas, including through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). SHIP works to improve health by encouraging healthier eating, more physical activity and avoiding commercial tobacco use and exposure. SHIP works with local public health agencies to make healthy choices more available to more people. Throughout the state, local SHIP staff are available to help businesses with their own wellness programs. More information about SHIP can be found at http://www.health.state.mn.us/ship, and worksite efforts at http://www.health.state.mn.us/worksite.