Featured Programs & Activities
Creating a Culture of Wellness at Work

Washington Wellness is a state funded program that seeks to create a culture of health where state employees work, but their planning tools are available for anyone to use. The Washington Wellness Worksite program is geared to agencies with 100 or more employees where senior management will support the program with a three-person team to lead the program internally.Healthy Choices Start at the Top

Launched in 2007, the program is built around a self-assessment tool, which is used to sort state workplaces into three categories for ongoing involvement with the Washington Wellness Team. The categories include the worksites “designated” to participate in the program, those that are “collaborators” who have a timeframe to show areas of improvement, and those that are “in development” to be designated by June 2011.

Components of the application can be used by any worksite to structure their own culture of wellness. For example, one question in the “Understand your Population” section asks for two recent examples of how the workforce population description was used to plan actions or programs to support employee health. The “Reshape the internal work environment section” requests the written annual budget for the health and productivity plan.

The goal is not merely to spark health improvements among workers, but to re-engineer worksite environments and policies so that wellness is a part of the institutional culture.

Criteria for wellness are organized around seven points, each of which begin with the letters in the word “culture.” The key points are: Create a culture of health; Understand your population; Leverage community linkages; Test effective wellness activities; Use information and measurement; Reshape the internal work environment to foster wellness; Engage employees and families.

A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program initiated by the State Departments of Agriculture and Health this spring illustrates the levels of “culture” that may need to be addressed. Worksite Wellness Coordinators at the agencies began by surveying workers to assess interest in having farmers deliver produce directly to the agencies. CSA shares can be tailored depending on family size and the farmer’s crops. Pre-selling farm shares benefits farmer by providing steady income and markets for their produce.

When 98% of survey respondents expressed mild to great interest, the next step was to schedule a CSA Farm Trade Show to ensure open competition of vendors and so workers could have input on which farmers would be selected. The Trade Show is scheduled for Wednesday, May 19 and the three farmers with the most votes will begin their deliveries soon.

In the process of planning for this program, Washington Wellness learned that state ethics policies would bar use of state property for CSA deliveries and pick-ups by employees. With guidance from Washington Wellness, the Executive Ethics Board determined in their January 8 meeting that minimal use of state property would be acceptable to support activities as part of a wellness program.

Next Steps

1. State agencies may submit applications to the Washington Wellness Worksite program again in mid-June this year. For more information, contact Kathleen Clark at 360-923-2751 or kathleen.clark@hca.wa.gov.

2. Employers interested in Community Supported Agriculture programs can find local CSA farms in the through the Washington Wellness website or the Tilth Producers of Washington Directory.

Target Audience

Employers, human resource professionals, worksite wellness coordinators.

Scope

Washington State