Methods have changed and it seems more employees and school children are participating in wellness programs.
More and more businesses offer wellness programs, help with exercise and diet, to improve employee health and reduce insurance costs.
Tara Smydra runs the program for Norfolk Iron and Metal Company and says a change in tactic increased employee participation.
“We really don’t have a lot of resistance, which is great,” according to Smydra. “When we pushed, we did have some resistance, but now that we’re opening it up and allowing them, we don’t have it.”
Smydra admits that the company’s enthusiasm for the program went a bit too far at first. Success spurred Norfolk Iron to push too hard. When the company ease up, participation went up.
The company began explaining the benefits, both physically and fiscally, to employees. Employees who saw great results sold the program to fellow workers. The company gathered focus groups and asked what programs would better motivate employees.
Even school children need encouragement to exercise, a fact that catches Betty Seim at Grand Island Central Catholic School a bit off-guard, admitting it seems odd to have to encourage kids to play.
“It does, having grown up in my generation,” Seims says. “We played outside for hours upon end and watched TV a little.”
Seims says the sedentary lifestyle of schoolchildren these days, with televisions, computers, video games, and cell phones at the ready, has led to a rise in obesity. She says the school has had success when it attempts to moderate, not eliminate, screen time while it increases activity.
Both Norfolk Iron and Central Catholic were 2014 recipients of the Governor’s Wellness Award.
Nebraska businesses can apply for the Governor’s Wellness Award online at nebraska.gov/wellness. The award program is a partnership of the Office of the Governor, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and WorkWell/Nebraska Safety Council. The Nebraska Worksite Wellness Toolkit can be found at worksitewellness.ne.gov.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]