Lawrence University was recently awarded the Wellness in the Workplace award by the national organization WELCOA (the Wellness Council of America).
Lawrence sent an extensive application to WELCOA to receive the award. The application looked at goals and projects implemented during the 2011-12 academic year to improve the faculty work environment.
The Committee of Wellness and Recreation directed the application. The committee is co-chaired by Associate Director of Human Resources and Employee Wellness Coordinator Patty Leiker and Director of Wellness and Recreation Erin Buenzli. The committee also has staff, faculty and student representatives.
The Gold Well Workplace Award given to Lawrence “recognizes organizations developing comprehensive programs producing results. These programs are a strategic and integral part of the business”.
Much of the application revolved around the “Operating Plan”, which looks at the goals an organization wants to achieve during a 12-month period, how they will achieve them and the rationale behind them. The goals set by the Recreation and Wellness Committee were focused on communication and education strategies to promote wellness and wellness programs to offer faculty and staff.
The Wellness and Recreation Committee collected data to help drive health efforts and target what kinds of programs the staff is looking for. This included a survey given to staff and faculty on the culture of wellness as well as a health risk assessment that is given annually.
At Lawrence some of the health efforts and programs for staff include the Employee Assistance Program, flu shots, the QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention Program, Lunch and Learn meals, the implementation of a smoke-free campus, the on-campus massage program, events like the Wellness Fair and Walktober and activities like yoga and pilates
“A lot of people appreciate the fact that they can do yoga and pilates and that we have this nice wellness center that was renovated a couple of years ago and all these new programs to stay healthy,” said Leiker.
Buenzli agreed. “The ideas and services come from all parts of campus and we are pleased to offer these services,” she said.
According to Leiker, it is important to create a “well workplace” because employees spend so much of their day at work. Therefore, their happiness and health is inextricably tied to their place of employment. Having a healthy workplace also helps to keep down health care costs since Lawrence provides a health care plan. If the University spends less money on health insurance it can spend more on remodling, new buildings and new programs.
Leiker made sure the Operating Plan followed the seven benchmarks that WELCOA uses to measure the success of an organization. These include Capturing CEO Support, Creating Cohesive Wellness Teams, Collecting Data to Drive Health Efforts, Carefully Crafting and Operating Plan, Choosing Appropriate Interventions, Creating a Supportive Environment and Carefully Evaluating Outcomes.
WELCOA is an organization that gives resources and information to organizations that are looking to create a happy and healthy environment for their workers. Lawrence has been a member of WELCOA since 2009 and decided to complete the application process in 2010.
The Fox Cities have the potential of being announced a “Well City” in late October. “Well cities means that at least 20 percent of the employees that work in that city are employed by a well workplace– an organization that has gone through this process and received an award” Leiker said. On October 29 a celebration will be held in Lawrence’s Warch Campus Center where it will be formally announced if the Fox Cities has been successful in their efforts.
As for Lawrence’s future, Leiker will be aiming for the Platinum award, which “represents the pinnacle of results-oriented worksite wellness programming,” when they apply again in two years.