Glenwood symposium shines wellness spotlight on workplace |

Glenwood symposium shines wellness spotlight on workplace

Given that a third of the day for most working people is spent on the job, it makes some sense that wellness should begin in the workplace.

That’s one of the major themes Friday when area employers and employees gather in Glenwood Springs for the first-ever Mountain Communities Small Business Health and Wellness Symposium.

The event takes place from 8 a.m. to noon Friday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. It will feature a panel discussion about how to create workplace wellness programs to help reduce employee turnover and health-care costs, as well as a keynote address by former Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug of the Chris Klug Foundation.

It’s part of a three-year state grant effort aimed at promoting wellness in Garfield County, explained Carrie Godes, special projects coordinator for Garfield County Public Health. Wellness encompasses many things, from healthy diet and exercise to disease prevention and mental well-being, she said.

“Our goal in public health is to reach as many people as possible to promote wellness,” Godes said. “One way we can do that is to reach out to employers by offering solutions to help their employees become more healthy.

“We want to see employers invest in the health of their employees because we know that it makes for a healthier overall community,” she added.

Not only are workplace wellness programs good for employee health, they can be a good recruiting tool to help small businesses in particular attract and retain employees in a competitive labor market. Through its wellness initiative, Garfield Public Health has support services available to help small businesses get started with simple, inexpensive wellness programs, Godes said.

Moderating the Friday symposium will be Colleen Reilly, vice president of Total Well Being, a division of the population health management company Telligen.

“Our focus is to help companies build a happy, healthy, thriving culture that in turn helps them save on health-care costs and to attract and retain the right people,” Reilly said.

She points to recent Gallup surveys that indicate the typical American worker has two hours worth of non-work-related distractions during the work day, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in productivity. That time would be better spent engaging in a wellness activity of some sort, Reilly said.

Also, 70 percent of people don’t get enough exercise, 40 percent don’t get enough sleep and only 3 percent are getting the right amount of vegetables and fruit in their diets each day, she said quoting the same survey information.

“The cost to employers is a decrease in productivity, employee safety concerns and increased health-care costs,” she said.

Reilly will moderate a panel discussion inviting area representatives to talk about why the workplace is the right place to build healthy habits, and to explain their own wellness programs and the results they’ve seen.

Speaking will be Becky Baugh of RA Nelson Construction, Beth Stewardson with the city of Glenwood Springs, Scott Owen from Mountain Family Health Centers and Nicole Heronemus from the Aspen Chamber.

“This will be a great opportunity for employers across Garfield County to learn how to create a healthy workplace and to be inspired by our speakers,” Reilly said.

Klug will share his story of overcoming obstacles after receiving a liver transplant in 2000 due to a rare degenerative condition, and then going on to win a bronze medal in snowboarding at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Eagle and Pitkin counties are joining Garfield County in promoting the symposium, along with the Vail Valley Partnership, and the Glenwood Springs and Aspen chambers of commerce.

For information on the event and to register, visit

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