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Well, Active and Reaching Excellence! Ware County Wellness Program Recognized by Gilsbar, Inc.

Date: 8/25/2010
Author: Gilsbar, Inc.
Origin: Gilsbar 360 In The Loop - Newsletter

Three, two, one ... & THEY’RE OFF!

Ware County’s Wellness Committee is Picking Up The Pace

Located in Waycross, GA, Ware County is a government entity comprised of a variety of businesses including the sheriff’s office, fire department, and court house. Ware County selected Gilsbar to administer their health plan in 2007 and added health & lifestyle management (H&LM) shortly thereafter in 2008.

Ware County was not without its fair share of challenges in the beginning. County leaders understood the importance of H&LM in the workplace and saw the value it brought to the table; however, they were unable to get the program started – employees were unaware of the program and its initiatives, and therefore, engagement was lacking, programs were not being implemented, etc. In addition to employees being spread out geographically with limited access to e-mail, county leaders chose not to implement a wellness committee initially. As a result, the H&LM program remained inactive without this necessary guidance.

However, Ware County has recently energized its initiative. A six member wellness committee has been formed and is dynamically shaping the “Well, Active & Reaching Excellence” program. Committee members took the time to personally visit with each department to introduce the incentive structure and discuss the overall program goals.

HURDLING THE BUDGET

Ware County had a very tight budget to consider when creating an incentive structure. In an effort to encourage participation and still be able to reward employees , the wellness committee decided to group all participants into teams of ten. Individuals may earn points with a variety of wellness related activities throughout the year, and the team with the most points at the end of the year will win $2,000. Ware County Director of HR and wellness committee member, Preston Settle says, “The teams have been a great way for employees to get involved and truly feel like it’s their program. Employees enjoy working together and are constantly pushing each other to make healthier lifestyle choices.”

SPRINTING TOWARDS BETTER HEALTH

Many employees were not taking advantage of yearly physicals, which are covered at 100% under their health plan. The wellness committee set up appointments at the local hospital where employees were encouraged to participate on company time. Committee members were pleased with the response and happy that a number of employees took advantage of this great benefit. Additionally, since the kick-off of the H&LM program, four Ware County employees have become tobacco free. “The thing I am most proud of is that three employees were able to quit smoking and one has stopped using smokeless tobacco. Three of those employees commented to me that they wanted to quit for a long time, and the H&LM program gave them the incentive and motivation they needed to finally quit,” states Preston Settle.

SETTING THE PACE FOR FAMILIES

Ware County’s goal is not only to encourage employees to live healthier, more active lives but also to encourage their families to do the same. With that in mind, the committee is working with the local REC center to host a softball tournament and picnic for all of the wellness teams. This is Ware County’s first attempt to include entire families, as well as employees, during a wellness event. Mr. Settle notes, “Our wellness team understands that the impact of a great wellness program does not stop with the employees, but extends to their family members as well. This is a great opportunity to reach out to all of our employees and their family members to educate them on the importance of wellness and a healthy lifestyle. Plus, it will be loads of fun.” It is important to understand how vital a wellness committee is for an organization that wishes to implement a successful H&LM initiative. Not only does the wellness committee provide guidance and direction for the overall program, it makes it possible for a culture of health to thrive and resonate with employees. Ware County is proof that behind every successful H&LM program, there is an empowered and engaged committee.

Gilsbar 360º In the Loop • Issue 07 • July 2010 • Culture of Health • 2