Editor’s Note: We often talk to young people and adults about the importance of role-modeling the healthy behaviors you are trying to create. FFI core partner organizations take that responsibility seriously. Upper Explorerland has examined their policies and practices in an effort to create a healthy workplace.
Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) is not unlike other businesses across the state and nation that have to deal with the rising health care costs. Rising health care costs are stifling economic growth, consuming increasing portions of the nation’s gross domestic product, and putting added burdens on businesses, the public sector, individuals, and families. In order to assist UERPC and our staff and their families, UERPC has taken a stance on wellness.
More companies are implementing wellness programs to reduce injuries, health care costs and long-term disability. Employers are realizing reduced absenteeism, higher productivity and increased morale and loyalty, due to wellness programs. Preventable illness makes up approximately 80% of the burden of illnesses and 90% of all health care costs. UERPC wants to help reduce preventable illnesses and reduce health care costs by providing wellness activities for their employees and employee families.
UERPC is working with our insurance provider, PDCM Insurance to develop a wellness program for our staff members and their families. First, UERPC put wellness into the organization’s personnel policy to showcase to the employees how the UERPC board and management deem wellness as important to the agency. Second, a survey to our staff was given to gauge where their interests lie with wellness activities in their lives and workplace. Next UERPC developed a wellness committee to help spur interest and participation in the programs developed specifically for UERPC.
UERPC’s wellness committee has developed and carried out three wellness activities since its inception in August 2013. First was an 8-week challenge of Healthy Habits, next the staff participated in a Maintain no Gain over the holidays. Currently, like thousands of other Iowan’s, UERPC staff is participating in Live Healthy Iowa – 10 Week Wellness Challenge. UERPC has 100% staff involvement in this program.
In working with the Live Healthy Iowa challenge, several businesses in the Northeast Iowa region have offered free usage of their facility to UERPC staff and other participants in the Live Healthy Iowa Challenge. Those businesses include Anytime Fitness, Decorah; Postville YMCA, Postville; and the Waukon Wellness Center, Waukon.
If you are interested in starting a wellness program in your community and need advice, please contact Executive Director, Rachelle Howe.