Health November 30, 2015

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22 HEALTH • November 30, 2015 Workplace wellness: Winning over employees B eginning in 2008, employee health and wellness became a high-priority topic for Venture's management team. At the time, these programs were still a new concept for many employers – the idea was some- what controversial and the agency's financial commitment was significant. As participation costs came down and research about the advantages of well- ness programs emerged, opportunities became more widely available, we decided it was time to offer this bene- fit to our employees. Our goal was to help our employees achieve a healthier lifestyle, which in turn would decrease absenteeism and improve morale and overall health. As we started to work with a con- tract wellness provider, many employ- ees showed initial interest in the pro- gram. The crucial step in the success- ful launch of this program was to educate our more than 650 staff mem- bers about this new benefit. At first, employees were tentative to share their personal health information and were concerned that the wellness provider would be sharing these details with Venture. These fears about confidenti- ality were eventually eased as the pro- gram rolled out. Employee engagement remains an ongoing priority and we continue to explore new ways to spark interest. In 2013, we welcomed our first wellness coordinator to the human resources team to focus specifically on wellness initiatives. Since then, we have also created a Wellness Committee that meets on a monthly basis and includes representatives from departments across the agency. The group's focus is to keep employees motivated to reach their health and wellness goals. They plan our Annual Wellness Fair and host "challenges" that increase pro- gram awareness, build morale, and encourage a little bit of healthy com- petition. The program has already shown tremendous growth as our Annual Wellness Fair more than dou- bled in attendance this year. Venture has utilized several initia- tives to increase participation. First, employees who enroll in and maintain the program's requirements pay a reduced premium toward their health insurance costs. We also hold special events such as guest speakers who discuss nutrition, stress management, and other relevant topics. This year we implemented "Fruity Friday" and "Tasty Tuesday", low-key ways of offering our employees free healthy snacks in our break room. Additionally, Venture recognizes an employee with our monthly Wellness Works Award. Employees can recommend a fellow coworker who has made a positive change to improve health and fitness. The recipient of the award and the other nominees are identified through our employee newsletter which helps to keep the program at the forefront of everyone's mind. One of the most effective wellness incentives we offer that drives employ- ee engagement is through offering annual bonus opportunities. Credits are awarded for efforts such as attend- ing fitness classes, holding gym mem- berships, quitting smoking, joining a weight loss program and running or walking in community races. In con- junction with our current wellness provider, we also offer a random quar- terly cash prize drawing for engaging in webinars, challenges and other competitions. Whether it's who takes the most steps in a month or who stays the most hydrated, the encouragement and competition with coworkers keeps employees engaged and devoted to their goals. At Venture, we are committed to empowering our employees through ongoing education and innovative health and wellness opportunities that offer individualized support. We believe that as employees are offered a diverse variety of options and flexibility in par- ticipation, we will enhance involvement and create a successful program for both employees and our agency. Bruce Leger is vice president of human resources and professional development at Venture Community Services in Sturbridge. BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION By Bruce Leger Building the Foundation for People of All Abilities Seven Hills Foundation offers a continuum of integrated supports that build confidence, community, friendships, and independence. For over 60 years, we have helped transform the lives of thousands of individuals who are now using their abilities to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities. Community living is setting the standard for all of our programs, which include: • Developmental Disabilities Supports • NeuroCare/Brain Injury Supports • Behavioral Health Supports • Medically Intensive Supports • Residential Options • CareerSource Workforce Readiness Seven Hills staff provides care with compassion and encouragement for everyone to SEE the possibilities, BELIEVE in their abilities, and ACHIEVE their dreams. 81 Hope Avenue, Worcester, MA 01603 • 508.755.2340 • SIZE: 4.3w x 5.5h The Center provides resources and activities for parenting a child on the spectrum. Family Activities | Teen Activities Support Groups | Workshops & Clinics Summer Camp | Sibshops (508) 835-4278 Is Autism part of your Employee Assistance Program? Contact Us Immediately to add an Austism Benefit to your EAP 71 Sterling Street • West Boylston, MA 01583

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