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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • WorkWell KS seeks to create healthier workers

  • Moundridge has become the latest Kansas community to take part in the WorkWell KS initiative.
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  • Moundridge has become the latest Kansas community to take part in the WorkWell KS initiative.
    Most American adults spend most of their time awake on the job. WorkWell KS seeks to introduce health-conscious strategies to businesses organizations to give their employees a higher quality of life.
    Lead by Pine Village Wellness Center Director Becki Yoder, Moundridge’s WorkWell KS program includes Pine Village, Partners in Family Care, Mercy Hospital, Mid Kansas Coop and the city of Moundridge as participants.
    “WorkWell KS is a statewide initiative to give employees a wellness program,” Yoder said. “They’re funded by the Kansas Health Foundation, which gives out millions of dollars in awards and grants every year.”
    WorkWell KS chooses a lead person in a community who goes through training, then recruits area businesses and organizations. The leader also goes through training courtesy of staff from the University of Kansas Medical Center.
    The businesses and organizations take part in a worksite wellness assessments, then send designated representatives to a training session on how to establish successful worksite wellness strategies.
    Businesses and organizations can get a $1,000 community grant for taking part.
    According to WorkWell KS, employee benefits of healthier living include increased stamina, lower stress levels, increased well-being, greater self esteem and improved physical fitness.
    The gains aren’t all on the employee side. Employers receive benefits, such as increased productivity, reduced health-care costs, decreased rates of sickness, injuries and absenteeism, better employee relations and morale, more effective employee recruitment, and higher employee retention.
    In addition, under the Affordable Care Act, employees of businesses and organizations with healthy employee programs will save on their insurance premiums, Yoder said.
    “There is a provision in the ACA starting in January 2014 that will reduce employee insurance premiums by 20 to 50 percent if their company has some sort of wellness program,” Yoder said.
    The purpose of WorkWell KS was to show people they can make the healthy choice the easy choice, Yoder said.
    “What sort of food do you usually see at company meetings?” Yoder said. “Usually it’s donuts or other junk food. People learn through programs like this to ‘Eat in Color.’ Green vegetables, red tomatoes and other things that are good for you. Fast food is always the same color. It’s some shade of brown.”
    The ultimate goal is for these changes to expand outside of the workplace into the rest of daily life, forming a root from which a healthier lifestyle and community will spring.
    Yoder said the end goal is to inspire local policy changes.
    “Say someone decides they want to ride a bicycle or go for a walk,” Yoder said, “and the sidewalks are in bad shape. It ends up going beyond a person’s own health, reaching into the health of the community.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The program may be in its early stages, but already partner companies have begun to take initiative. Mid Kansas Coop, for example, has begun work on a healthy eating cookbook.
    bie staff accountant for human resources Erin Riley said the company has begun to implement other health activities in the workplace, such as a Biggest Loser style weight loss contest and a walking challenge to see how many steps employees took on the job.
    “Our community involvement committee requires us to do four things a year for employee wellness,” Riley said, “so the cookbook seemed like a natural idea.”
    Yoder said she was excited to see changes like this being implemented.
    “Don’t we all want to have a healthy workforce?” Yoder said. “Some people don’t even know how to start, because they’ve never been given the knowledge and tools to know how to live this way. If we can make the workplace healthy, hopefully those employers and employees will take those new habits home with them.”
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