Pueblo Triple Aim

Why is a Well Workforce Important?

 

 

Introduction

Why do we even care about wellness as an employer?  Isn’t that a personal choice and a matter best left for individuals to tackle when they are not at work?  Maybe, but perhaps not.  Overwhelming evidence indicates there is a very high cost associated with a lack of wellness and poor health amongst employees. Employers pay that cost as do the employees.   The costs of being unwell can affect both personal and professional lives.

Why is a Well Workforce Important?

Guest Post: Marisa Pacheco, City of Pueblo – Human Resources Director

City of Pueblo

Why do we even care about wellness as an employer?  Isn’t that a personal choice and a matter best left for individuals to tackle when they are not at work?  Maybe, but perhaps not.  Overwhelming evidence indicates there is a very high cost associated with a lack of wellness and poor health amongst employees. Employers pay that cost as do the employees.   The costs of being unwell can affect both personal and professional lives.

Countless sources have quantified the cost of a workforce in poor health.  Higher health insurance premiums and additional annual costs per employee are definitively linked to chronic health conditions such as smoking, diabetes, obesity, depression and high blood pressure.  The City of Pueblo workforce is not immune to the challenges of these conditions and we have seen the direct impact on insurance costs.  However, there are less tangible costs, like lower productivity, absenteeism, reduced presenteeism when at work that are of equal concern.

The City of Pueblo is at its heart a service organization.  We deliver services to our community and citizens on a daily basis and our people are key to our ability to deliver that service.  We are also an organization that is entrusted with millions of tax payer dollars each year.  We are tasked with being good stewards of those dollars and investing them responsibly when it comes to all matters, including health and wellness benefits for our public servant workforce.  So, in the end, workforce wellness is our business and we are trying to bend the curve at the City of Pueblo by creating programs that engage our employees in achieving and maintaining health lifestyles.

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Our wellness programming continues to evolve as we learn more about the needs of our workforce.  We learn about our workforce each year through annual biometric screenings and monitoring aggregate health claim data.  We want to design tailored programming that works to address actual needs.  It is certainly not a “one size fits all” approach and we do not believe in “check the box” programs.  We have a contingency of our workforce that is already healthy and wants support for the physical aspects of wellness.  We have other employees who are not able or not interested in participating in purely physical or athletic activities, but still desire to enhance their wellness.  To meet the wide variety of needs, the City seeks to provide a wide spectrum of information and activities to assist employees with personal wellness.

The City’s Wellness Committee has used resources to outfit work spaces in the Fire Department with mini-gyms and equipment to support their ongoing wellness initiatives, the gym at the Pueblo Municipal Justice Center has been updated and the Wellness Committee continues to encourage the purchase of ergonomic stand/sit stations throughout the City.   Community wellness events like Corporate Cup are supported. Financial wellness seminars, free flu shots, massages, Acudetox and essential oils education is offered.  Yoga and meditation classes are available on a regular basis.  Earlier this fall a free farmer’s market was held for our employees to come and sample local produce from Pueblo farms to encourage healthy eating.  Courses on stress management, healthy eating, portion control, safe stretching, de-stressing through painting and a variety of other activities are offered.  Leveraging community resources and partnerships with local providers, vendors and hospitals has been critical in our success to deliver cost -effective, impactful wellness programs.  The goal is to provide an activity or lesson each week.    Keep it current, keep it at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  It isn’t a once a quarter activity, it is a constant consciousness becoming part of our culture.

The City of Pueblo wellness program represents an investment in our greatest resource, our people and in turn, our community.  While designed to combat the typical health conditions and keep increasing insurance costs at bay, the program represents something much greater, a real benefit to employees and the City’s commitment to assist employees with making healthy lifestyle choices.  Healthy employees are happy employees.  Happy employees are productive employees.  Productive employees make a better community.   Wellness is part of the way we do business and the results are starting to show!

 

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