Inside the Chamber column: Worksite wellness is good for health, bottom line | PostIndependent.com

Back to: Business

Inside the Chamber column: Worksite wellness is good for health, bottom line

Angie Anderson

The weather is colder, and the days are shorter. It's dark when we leave in the morning and when we come home in the evening. My 2-year-old correctly observes from her car seat, "The sun is not awake." All of that combined with the holidays can deplete any motivation for healthy activities such as exercising and eating right. So it's the perfect time to get on track.

A few months ago, I had the great opportunity to reconnect with a childhood friend, Amanda Wagner, who also returned to the Roaring Fork Valley. Back in the day, we played soccer together, served on Student Council and had a few of the same classes in high school. We even worked together at the visitor center at the Glenwood Springs Chamber during a couple of summers. Now a lead advisor for Health Links Colorado, she planted the idea that the Glenwood Springs Chamber should get a worksite wellness program going. She also threw in that she could help connect us with some great resources through Health Links to get it started. Needless to say, it didn't take much to convince me that it was a good idea.

One might think that a worksite wellness program is something only big corporations can afford. However, companies and organizations can implement easy low-cost or no-cost solutions that can create a more productive workplace, improve employee morale and reduce injuries and absenteeism. How's that for the bottom line? For companies that have the ability to do so, making a simple policy change to allow flexible work schedules so that employees can take time during the day to exercise is a great idea. How about incorporating a group walk into a staff meeting? It's a great team builder and energy booster, and the change of scenery could be just what the staff needs to get the great ideas flowing.

Oftentimes the hardest part about a project or program is just getting started. To help with this, we applied for the Health Links Colorado Accelerator Grant. We were recently named one of 10 out of 45 businesses to receive a $1,000 grant to improve and enhance workplace health. The funds must be used for capital improvements that will enhance workplace health so we worked with our advisor to come up with an action plan.

Since the nature of work at GSCRA can involve sitting at a desk for long periods of time, the first step in our plan was to have an ergonomic assessment done at each of our workstations to improve comfort and productivity. The list of recommendations following our assessment ranged from simply moving the phones closer to purchasing keyboard gel pads or new office chairs. Now that we have our list for each workstation, we'll prioritize the recommendations and utilize the funds to make the necessary purchases.

This is just the beginning for us though. After we get our workspaces set up properly, we'll work on adding more movement throughout the day too. If you start seeing some of our staff doing lunges in the alley, please say hello. The possibilities are endless, and we hope to keep it fresh and fun. Most of all we hope our staff will notice a positive difference in their overall health.

Glenwood Springs is a wonderful community in which to live work and play. Our community is known as place where visitors come to recreate and rejuvenate, and we want to promote the active lifestyle from within. The Glenwood Springs Chamber hopes to lead by example, and maybe other businesses and organizations may follow in our footsteps. In addition to the Accelorator Grant, we also received some Kick-Start Funding from Health Links, which we will utilize to further develop our program. The GSCRA is also in the process of becoming a Certified Health Links Healthy Business.

So despite the short days and the cold weather, we're going to get moving. After all, we have a lot of work to do at the chamber so we need the energy to get it done. A special thanks to Amanda and Health Links Colorado for the incentive to get it started. Health Links is a nonprofit initiative spearheaded by health and safety experts at the Center for Health, Work and Environment within the Colorado School and public Health. Their mission is to simplify how worksite health and safety get done. By doing so, we are helping build healthy, vibrant businesses and a stronger local economy. To learn more, visit http://www.healthlinkscertified.org.

Angie Anderson is the executive vice president at the Glenwood Springs Chamber.