April 5, 2021

Partnering With Health Departments to Improve Workplace Wellness

Rachel Seymour

The University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center (UW HPRC) is recruiting health departments to help promote healthier workplace cultures and environments among smaller worksites across the U.S.

employees in a breakroom eating and talking

The UW Health Promotion Research Center developed an evidence-based workplace wellness program known as Connect to Wellness that can help local health departments and employers across the country improve healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and cancer screening in their communities. The vision is that all working adults have access to healthy workplace environments and support for healthy behavior.

Connect to Wellness can support health departments in creating and building partnerships with businesses in the communities they serve. The program is designed for small to mid-size employers with fewer than 250 employees. Connect to Wellness has also been effective for worksites with as many as 1,000 employees. The program provides employers a menu of evidence-based options to address healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and cancer screening through workplace policies, health communications, and activities for employees. Because the program is flexible, employers can select which options they and their employees want to explore. Those options are at low or no cost for employers and employees, helping create an affordable and sustainable workplace wellness program for those who might not otherwise have access to one.

“The most valuable part of [Connect to Wellness] was having everything in one place, plus the fact that you know that the recommendations come from evidence.”
– Grant County, Washington Health District Staff Member

Partnership Info & Support

For our latest Connect to Wellness project, health department staff will partner with worksites for one year to support employers with implementing Connect to Wellness. After one year, employers should be able to sustain the program on their own.

The UW Health Promotion Research Center will be there to support health staff every step of the way. The goal is to help health departments and employers improve the health and well-being of the communities they serve.

UW Health Promotion Research Center Provides

  • Resources and ready-to-use materials
  • Online training for health department staff
  • Monthly phone check-ins
  • Ongoing technical assistance and support

 Health Departments Provide

  • Staff time to participate in training with UW Health Promotion Research Center
  • Staff time for partnering with local employers
  • Data to support evaluation of the program as part of the UW project

Proven Effective

Multiple studies have shown the effectiveness of Connect to Wellness beginning in 2009. Across studies, the program led to employers increasing the adoption of evidence-based practices by about 20-30%.

Investigators continue to refine and improve the program through collaborative, community-based studies with public health partners.

Interested in learning more? Contact ctwell@uw.edu.