Well workers work well- Employee health focus of second annual Workplace Wellness Conference
The message of Crow Wing Energized's second annual Workplace Wellness Conference was pretty simple: Healthy employees are key to a healthy business.
More than a hundred community leaders attended the Wednesday, Nov. 28, event with keynote speaker Kay King, a community educator from National Alliance on Mental Illness-Minnesota.
"It's really about how do we build a healthy workforce to maintain and retain and recruit satisfied employees ... and kind of the main theme for today will be around mental fitness—how do we build resiliency within the workplace," Crow Wing Energized Co-Chair Kara Griffin said.
Workplace wellness can help businesses increase employee satisfaction, maximize productivity, minimize absenteeism and manage healthcare costs, according to information presented at the free conference at Crow Wing County Land Services Building in Brainerd.
"We also really want partners to 'peer up,' so to speak, so Crow Wing County Community Services has become a breast-friendly-designated agency, and if another agency within our community would like to get designated, they can connect with me to learn how," Griffin said.
The annual return on investment for worksite wellness programs is $3 to $6 saved for every dollar spent after about two to five years, and the expected outcomes include employee satisfaction, maximize productivity, minimize absenteeism and manage health care costs.
"We know we probably spend just as much time at work as we do at home. We know that we have life stressors, and we have almost 1 in 4 adults—based on our county health survey results—reported they struggle with mental health and have been treated for it," Griffin said.
Among the tips to building resiliency including getting a full night's sleep, eating healthy and exercising, taking time to appreciate the positive by writing them down, living mindfully and setting incremental but achievable goals.
"The theory is you're born with a mental illness, something puts it into motion, and stress can certainly put things in motion. In a workplace, it's busy, everybody is 24/7, smartphones, so it's important to learn some strategies," King said.
"It's important to manage stress because stress seems to be an aggravator. ... It's part of people's recovery from mental illness to work as well, and so consequently it's a win-win for employers and for the person themselves."
The conference promised to equip attendees with tools to increase stress reduction and resiliency-building skills as well as reduce mental health stigma reduction in the workplace.
"The premise of the Workplace Wellness event is to bring all of our partners together to share what they've been doing within the last year around workplace wellness, whether that's breastfeeding-friendly designation or maybe smoking cessation programs," Griffin said.
Kelly Eades is an administrative assistant at Brainerd Public Utilities, which has more than 45 employee, she said.
"I'm just hoping to learn a little bit more about what our community has to offer, and I'm also in charge of the health and wellness at Brainerd Public Utilities, so I'm hoping to bring stuff that I learn today back to the office and be able to implement it," Eades said.
Crow Wing Energized's other wellness efforts include increasing physical activity and healthy food choices within the workplace, such as vending machines offering healthier options.
"Healthy employees make better employees, but also when you look at health insurance purposes, healthy employees bring down health insurance costs and the workplace attendance is actually improved," Eades said.
Attendees learned about how to apply for Workplace Wellness grants that are offered to support wellness-related initiatives in the workplace that help make the healthy choice "the easy choice," according to Griffin, division manager of Crow Wing Community Services.
"I also think it's really great networking—learning more about other businesses that are in the community, too—and just connecting with other people," Eades said of the conference.
For more information about Crow Wing Energized, visit crowwingenergized.org.