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Wellness Program Ideas –  Holiday Activities.

Tying wellness activities into holiday themes is a strategy widely used to develop interest and participation. Notwithstanding, be aware that offering holiday activities in the workplace can develop issues.

Your workplace may have policies and guidelines already in place about issues such as appropriate decorations themes, work time, etc. Make sure to check with management regarding all guidelines and policies.

Don’t forget to include and acknowledge the holiday celebrations of the various cultures or groups represented in your workforce. It is normally safer to use graphics, themes, and wording that are not specific to one culture, as others may feel left out.

Indeed, acknowledging diverse holidays, if done respectfully, can help familiarize your workforce with values and practices of different cultures and ethnic groups.

A few topical ideas for holiday themes include –

• Health Promotion committee members distribute “healthful heart valentines” to each staff member for Valentine’s Day.

• Thanksgiving “turkey trot”. Staff Members who exercise three times a week for at least one-half hour between November 1 and 15 are entered into a drawing for a free turkey (can be purchased at the local grocery store or donated).

• Chinese New Year tai chi demonstration. Consider a follow-up worksite introductory tai chi class offering.

• Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/etc. holiday food potluck. Members of different cultural or ethnic groups bring in a dish reflective of their holiday traditions.

Each person can say several words about the origin and tradition behind the food. In this holiday theme, food doesn’t have to be low fat or specifically healthy, since the purpose is enhancing cultural diversity, not counting calories.

Pre/Post Holiday Weigh In

Holiday weight gain may be a large health challenge. This wellness activity is fun, low-key, and assists workforce monitor their weight during the holiday season.

• Participants weigh-in with a “trusted” confident before Thanksgiving. the weigh-ins might  be conducted on the honor system, but weight must be recorded on a weight-tracking card. You might invite a local nurse or Weight Watchers representative to monitor weigh-ins.

• Staff Members set an individual goal of maintaining their weight from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

• Weight cards are stored in a secure file location.

• Provide weekly weight control hints. These should be posted next to the wellness bulletin board, sent via email, or provided in  pamphlet form.

• Or, alternate the weekly hints with healthful recipe options.

• Remind workers of the necessity to continue physical activity during the busy holiday season.

• Weigh everyone the first work day following New Year’s Day. Record the weight on the tracking card.

• Workers that have maintained their weight or that have lost weight receive a prize and award certificate.

• Staff Members who gained weight receive a certificate of completion and an invitation to continue participation in a related health weight wellness activity.

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Health Promotion Program Ideas –  National Health Observances.

National health observance campaigns can lighten workload and effort. A lot of of these well-developed observances have kits and materials which may either be downloaded for free or purchased inexpensively.

Monthly health themes, week Iong events, and nationally recognized days of the year are also good ways to have fun while participating in bigger events. Health observances are tied to almost every aspect of wellness and health. Things to consider –

• National observances present opportunities to work with other community agencies and organizations to coordinate larger events and celebrations.

• A wellness message is more likely to stick with individuals  when the information is presented at work, in local grocery stores, and on TV.

• National Worker Fitness Day/Week (April) is a good place to start.

• A word of advice –  do not go overboard in attempting to tie a health promotion program into these national observances, as there are so many. Select one to three events per year and stick with these.

Create and promote events well ensuring that staff will come to expect and anticipate these programs each year. It’s best to do several wellnesss well than many promotions poorly.

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Wellness Program Ideas – Sports and Recreation.

A lot of workers enjoy team related activities. These activities ordinarily take place on an employee’s time away from work and participation is totally voluntary in nature.

Even though the sports team is not part of an staff member’s regular work duties, when the team or activity is associated with the company, the company may be held liable in the event of an employee injury.

If the activity brings with it a risk of injury, it is necessary to address the possible risk and liability issues with the correct company department. Furthermore talk with your organization’s workers’ compensation carrier and/or legal counsel.

• Organize summer softball or volleyball teams, a winter ski outing, fall and winter smoke free bowling teams, a spring golf tournament, summer walks, etc.

• Give  handouts and catalogs from area Parks and Recreation departments and county park organizations so staff can take advantage of community leagues, trips and offerings.

• Invite an official from among the above organizations to speak at a business brown bag event, or invite an area Parks and Recreation instructor to provide a demonstration of a new class offering.

Family Friendly Activities

Periodically offer activities which may be taken home and shared with the entire family. Ideas for these include –

• Television Free Week (usually in April) –  Create a chart for the kids to use to record their TV-free participation.

• Offer a certificate to whoever who is TV-free for a week.

• If possible, offer several prizes (but not video rental certificates, video games or other TV-related items) for related categories, such as less than 5 hours of Television, no video games for a week, etc.

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Health Promotion Programs – Stress Management and Mental Health

Stress Management

A lot of simple wellness activities and practices can help staff members understand the role stress plays in effecting health, safety, and productivity. It’s necessary to help staff members understand simple stress management strategies for lowering stress levels.

• Stress kit check out. Have stress management tools available for employee use during a scheduled break time. Consider providing relaxation music or programs including player and headphones; mat or blanket to lie on; neck pillow; eye mask; and stress massage rollers.

• Offer a stress management brown bag event at which workforce can try different types stress management tools.

• Make sure to encourage staff to take 10-minute relaxation/exercise breaks. Post reminders.

• Give a comfortable employee break area.

• Designate a “quiet room” for meditation and relaxation, when possible.

• Make sure to work with Management to keep supervisors informed about the effects of stress in the workplace. Supervisors are often the first step in helping staff find different ways of managing work related stressors.

• Contact the Staff Member Assistance Provider (EAP) for a selection of stress management information and self-assessments.

• Offer stress management self-assessments to interested personnel. Follow these up with a stress management videotape, a brown bag presentation, or a community guest speaker.

Mental Wellness

Emotions and mental health greatly affect overall health and well-being. Every health promotion program should incorporate some services, programs, resources or activities to address mental health issues.

Mental health topics can be sensitive areas for employees. Consequently, it’s important to provide information in a selection of ways, worksite presentations being just one possibility.

For  instance, put domestic violence resource cards in the restrooms to provide useful information in a private establishing that does not embarrass anyone. Other considerations include –

• When planning to offer an oratory event or presentation a neutral class title will ensure potential participants won’t be put off by the name.

For  instance, “Parenting in 2004″, “Positive Parenting”, or “Parent University” is much more appealing than “Stress and Parenting”.

• Make certain to allot enough time when hosting EAP/mental health seminars for a question and answer session so participants may ask specific questions.

Always remind participants that individual help is available through the employee assistance program and through their health benefits. Give written contact information for your EAP, but do so discretely.

• The Staff Member Assistance Program (EAP) is an great partner and resource for health promotion programming in these areas. the employee assistance program (EAP) can help find ways to address psychological health, stress, coping, and other related issues.

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Health Promotion Program Ideas – Fighting Addictions.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation assistance is a worthwhile wellness activity. Smoking is usually a challenging habit to overcome. Company health promotion activities to support “smoke-free” living include –

• Use American Lung Association resource. These include the Freedom From Use of tobacco group and/or video-tutorial. There is also a follow-up video “A Lifetime of Freedom From Use of tobacco”.

• Reward individuals who have successfully quit smoking for six months with an appropriate “kicked the habit” certificate and some kind of incentive gift.

• Offer “cold turkey” sandwiches to smokers who pledge to quit during the Excellent American Smokeout.

• Begin a “quitting or thinking about it” support group to assist and encourage person trying to stop tobacco use.

Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Addictions

When a substance abuse policy isn’t in place in your workplace, advocate that one be developed. Request a knowledgeable Health Promotion Committee member be included in the policy development process.

If such a policy is already in place be sure Wellness Committee members are aware of the policy and have a thorough understanding of it. From time to time, remind personnel of wellness resources and programs available.

• Invite AA, NA, AI-Anon, and other groups to meet in a business building and/or publicize community meetings.

• Serve non-alcoholic drinks whenever alcohol is served, and make certain food is always served along with alcoholic beverages.

• Give easily accessible information about counseling, referral, and treatment programs available in the community. Put this information in an area where it could be viewed without embarrassment.

• When conducting wellness programs include information about responsible alcohol use on stress/weight management, nutrition, physical fitness, use of tobacco, and accident prevention.

• Issues like co-dependence and the difficulty of assisting a substance abuser can also be addressed. Offer this information as part of the health promotion program by providing informational materials, brown bag sessions, employee assistance program (EAP) information, etc.

• The Employee Assistance Program provider is an great resource for substance abuse health promotion programming and or employee assistance.

• Other addictions, such as problem gambling, food addiction, shopping, Internet addiction, etc., may be problematic and can reach the point of affecting a person’s life and work. Offer information, video review, or staff member assistance sessions addressing these topics.

• A Wellness Committee member may gain personal information regarding an worker problem. Don’t forget to keep all worker information totally confidential.

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Health Promotion Program Ideas – Increasing Fitness.

Interest in increasing exercise ranks nearly as high as weight control in staff member interest and need. Ideas for increasing staff member awareness and participation in physical activities follow –

• Fitness classes in the worksite –  On-Site exercise can be much more convenient for personnel. However, onsite classes require logistical planning and coordination with attention to details.

Onsite classes are typically more feasible for bigger corporations.  As part of the steps in planning and assessment, speak with other health promotion programs offering worksite classes. Ask what their experience has been like.

Speak to potential providers in the area as well. Find out what it would take to offer an onsite fitness class. YMCA’s, gyms, and community recreation programs are excellent resources for this type of discussion.

It’s also feasible to offer a “mini” introductory worksite class series. A mini series might consist of an introduction to a new physical activity area. Employees are then expected to make the transition to home or community based programs.

• Nerf Olympics –  Nerf games are fun (and entertaining) activities that encourage movement, flexibility, stress reduction, and normally are a good laugh. When planning such an activity consider establishing up a “challenge” stations with various activities.

Ideas for activities include hula hoop contests, Nerf basketball free throws, Nerf football tosses, Frisbee “golf”, jump rope, etc. the Wellness Team will lay out the course.

Each participant goes through the stations and gets a “gold” medal (you can purchase these at party stores and toy stores inexpensively) for completing all of the stations (no matter how badly they perform).

Start each participant at intervals authorizing for smooth running, but expect high difficulty stations to be backed up. This delay can add to the fun and creates a “keystone cops” scenario.

Nerf Olympics is a good activity to do with an audience, so encourage cheering coworkers.

• Offer incentives to workforce who engage in aerobic exercise like walking, running and bicycling on their own time (see goal establishing program, offer points toward prizes, etc.).

• Distribute maps of walking/jogging trails located near the workplace. Mark distances in steps and miles. Be certain to encourage workforce to walk during lunchtime and/or break times.

Post a steps gathered map on a workplace wall where employees can log their steps or miles. Check with CIS Healthy Benefits representative regarding pedometers and physical activity kits.

• Be sure to encourage joggers, walkers, and those who enjoying other forms of exercise to form exercise groups to meet before work, at lunch, or after work.

• Promote the use of stairs in lieu of elevators. Place bulletin boards, art contests, etc., in stairwells.

• Sponsor “Bicycle-to-Work” or Walk-to-Make certain to work week.

• Schedule five-minute desk stretching at the worksite. This can relieve repetitive motion problems in addition to eye and back strain.

• Sponsor a personal challenge activity like “Climb a Mountain” or “Swim a Sea”. This is an honor system program in which participating personnel are awarded minutes, steps, or miles credit for cardiovascular exercise (swimming, walking, running, skiing, bicycling, stair stepping, aerobics, etc.).

The object of this kind of challenge is to accumulate the equivalent mileage it’d take to reach the top of a famous mountain, span a body of water (swim the Columbia River), or reach a distant city/county.

Try personalizing the challenge as much as possible to individual interests and/or area geographical matches close to the workplace.

• Collect a variety of exercise video or DVD tapes. Workers can either take a look at a tape for home use, or offer a group activity video class.

• If it isn’t possible for staff to leave the building to exercise or workout at lunch, attempt establishing an in-house aerobic walking track for staff member use in an unused part of the worksite for lunch, break or after hours use.

An example of how this issue might  be solved is the use of stationary bikes and other small exercise equipment provided for staff by some 911 call centers.

• Sponsor a “Personal Best” Challenge”. Staff Members run, walk, bicycle, etc. their own personal best time. Repeat the personal best challenge each quarter to six months. Each time an worker improves, offer recognition and an appropriate award.

Furthermore, recognize those workforce who maintain their personal best in the same way. Make sure to encourage non-participating workforce to get involved.

Assist these person in choosing  an activity that is comfortable and of interest for them, and one in which they are able to succeed and progress.

• When you offer an introductory or other on-site exercise class or activity, make sure the instructor can relate to the audience, and the audience can relate to the instructor.

Have a Health Promotion Committee member attend a current class by the selected instructor class prior to the instructor conducting a class at worksite. In addition, consider the staff who might  be potentially attending the class.

Sometimes larger and/or older exercise instructors are often better accepted by audiences who are similarly sized and aged.

• Sponsor a themed “virtual” trek. Calculate the mileage for the proposed “trip” ahead of time. Be sure that the distance is appropriate for the number of expected participants and time for the event (six to eight weeks) works well.

For longer events, small teams can accumulate their mileage for the trip. Establish a reporting network. Post a map to track the trip. Chart the progress with stick pins, a magic marker, or a highlighter.

Provide a brief humorous fictional narrative of the trip, posting a new one each week. Include as many participants’ names as possible. Alternate posting humorous texts with health tips along the way. Provide an incentive at the end of the trip.

Ideas for Physical Activity Themes –

• Swim the Mississippi to the Mardi gras.

• Take a tour to all Oregon counties.

• Take a tour of Oregon from Enterprise to Brookings.

• Run or walk around the world (25,000 miles).

• Tour de France (take all summer)

• Tour de France on a stationary bicycle (take all winter)

• Indianapolis 500

• Climb Mount Everest (stairs or stair climbers). Target Sir Edmund Hilary’s birthday or the anniversary of the first conquest as a completion date.

• Climb Mount Washington or Mt. Hood. Target President’s Day as a completion date.

• Climb any meaningful mountain and tie it to any remotely related event.

• Use time in exercise as a measurement for the contest rather than distance. This permits you to treat all forms of aerobic exercise more equitably.

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Health Promotion Program Ideas – Nutrition.

Employees usually enjoy sharing nutritional tips and trying new foods. Sponsor a “nutrition cook-off” and/or healthful potlucks.

• Nutrition cook-off. Teams of workers set a menu in advance and bring in prepared foods for an official competition. A nutritionist from the health department or local hospital or community serves as the judge.

Dishes and foods are investigated based on both health considerations and taste. Following the event, a cookbook of the teams’ recipes may be created and distributed to the entire staff.

• Cholesterol Control or “Down Under” Club. People  with cholesterol over 200 mg.  Are invited to voluntarily participate. the invitation needs to be extended to all staff members as the Health Promotion Team will not have (nor should have) access to individual health information.

Offer a variety of services to assist in decreasing cardiac risks. Gordian Health Solutions offers cholesterol management health programs for employees qualifying by cholesterol score.

When an staff member gets cholesterol numbers below 200 in six months, provide an incentive such as a prize to continue progress. Continue to supply information and reminders for continued cholesterol control.

• Label reading contest. Designate a particular food or food category. Staff Members must find the designated products with the lowest/highest fat content in the grocery store. Provide coupons or other prizes for predetermined number of winners or participants.

Or, provide samples of healthier food options based on label information. Show how these compare to less healthy options. Display results of the contest in the staff member break room or at an staff member brown bag event.

Other Health Promotion Program Nutrition Suggestions –

• Give freshly brewed decaffeinated coffee and herbal tea.

• Sponsor a healthy food “bake-off” once a year.

• Give sugar and salt substitutes in the lunchroom.

• At meetings, replace sweet rolls and donuts with bran muffins, wholewheat bagels, or fresh fruit. Consider offering other decaffeinated coffee and herbal teas plus no-sugar fruit juices.

• Serve free popcorn in the break area.

• Develop a cookbook featuring healthy recipes contributed by personnel.

• Fruit or veggie of the week (or month). Display an “exotic” fruit or vegetable in your lunchroom and see when coworkers know what it is. Staff Members can put their name and the name of the item on an index card.

These may be used to conduct a prize drawing after the week from the cards with the correct answer. to add fun, encourage people  to put down funny answers when in doubt of the real name of the item.

Read some of those names during the prize drawing, and provide a prize for the most creative name. Divide the fruit or vegetable at the drawing and let those interested taste it. Make sure it could be eaten raw.

Unusual food items like star fruit are now readily available in supermarkets work well for this activity as many individuals  haven’t tried these kinds of produce.

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Health Promotion Program Ideas – Weight Management.   

Weight management is a major area of both staff member interest and need. Body Mass Index  is the clinical measure that indicates whether people  are in a healthful weight range or are overweight or obese.    

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of a person’s overall height to their overall weight. Height and weight are measured during the staff member biometric screening. A computer mathematical calculation provides the Body Mass Index (BMI) score.    

Ideas for worksite based weight control programs include –    

• Have Weight Watchers, TOPS, or other reputable weight control groups meet in your workplace or nearby. Offer such groups before/after work or at lunchtime. Staff Member attendance is generally better if personnel can attend either wholly or partially on work time.

Break times could  be rolled into lunch break times to minimize employee time away from work duties (with management approval). Workers usually pay their own fees for class attendance and supporting materials.

• When the wellness program offers incentives based on participation, award a completion gift when staff member has attended a certain number of weight control sessions or activities.

• Supply information regarding community weight control groups.

• Incentives like cash, tee shirts, plaques, certificates, hours/days off, names on bulletin boards may be given to individuals who write a weight loss contract and meet their goal.

• Launch a workplace commitment to offer alternative healthy snacks at business-sponsored meetings. Healthful snacks such as fruit, pretzels, plain popcorn, almonds, and veggies provide demonstration as to the business’s commitment to health and worker well being.

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Wellness Program Goals and Recognition Programs.

Every workplace will have employees who’ll not take part in offered employee wellness activities. But these same employees may  be following many healthy practices in their daily living.

A good wellness program should give these individuals  credit and recognition for their good work.

Recognition of healthful goal establishing and goal achievement is a good approach for reinforcing what individuals  are doing on their own outside of work, and for reaching those who do not like group activities.    

Suggested steps for individual objectives and recognition include –    

• A form employees can fill out which includes the set goal(s) and a target date for completion.   

• Information on setting realistic objectives, as people  often overestimate what they are able to do and by when. It’s good to remind staff members “baby steps” count!   

• Maintain a confidential file of the submitted worker goal forms in a dated “tickler” system.   

• Send a reminder to each employee at the time of each participant’s goal date. This reminder could be a copy of their original goal form. Ask for staff member’s feedback regarding their goal(s) –  completed the goal, need an extension, or have discontinued the goal.   

• When the form is returned from an employee –    

   1) When an staff member has completed the goal, a certificate of completion is received along with a prize or incentive item linked to the goal (if possible).

   2) When the staff member renegotiates the deadline or the goal, the form is re-filed for future follow-up. Continue to encourage the staff member.

   3) If the goal is canceled, send a note acknowledging this “good try” and encourage the staff member to attempt again when the timing is right.

• Allow those interested in this process to set objectives any time and as often as they want.   

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Wellness Program Ideas – Volume Two.

Walking Club

Walking clubs or “trekking” can either be done in real time (by scheduling walking groups), or clubs can be set it up so people  do their walking on their own and keep a shared log at work.

After a certain number of miles or steps are logged, workforce are eligible for membership into the walking “club” and receive something like a prize (a walking pin, similar to the ones that volkswalkers get, or a certificate of membership).

Ways to continue interest in walking groups include –

• Periodic announcements about community walking events. Keep abreast of events in the community, Parks and Recreation programs, available tracks, inside walking choices, volkswalking events, etc.

• Periodic information specific to walkers; like what to look for when purchasing a pair of walking shoes.

• Consider a workplace team to take part in a local fundraiser walk, like the March of Dimes walk.

• A walking club could be the kind of “club” that never really meets, or it could be the kind that does provide the choice for those who are interested in group walks and events.

Health Awareness Video Programming

A lot of good health related videos and DVDs are available through loan programs either at no or low costs. Pick video programming based on worker interests and needs.

• Schedule periodic health video viewings at lunchtime brown bag sessions.

• The videos can be related to health or other related wellness topics like financial planning, caring for aging parents, or even humor as a “break” from the work routine.

• Be certain to preview videos before showing them to insure they’re appropriate, not too long, etc.

• Have a Health Promotion Committee Host moderate the viewing, greet individuals , and lead a brief discussion after the video. Develop one or two questions for discussion after previewing the video and use these to lead the discussion. Many health videos come with group discussion questions.

• Try to supply a pertinent educational  brochure for participants to take with them for more information on the topic.

• If possible, provide popcorn or fruit as a snack.

• Offer a prize drawing (or points when you’re doing that type of incentive program) for those attending the video program and discussion.

Health Promotion Mentors

Every workplace typically has at least a couple of staff members that have successfully made changes in their health. All too often, other staff members will relate to one of their peers. Colleague support can go a long ways in stimulating healthful changes.

• Seek volunteers from the work force who have experienced a disease resulting from an unhealthful behavior, or survived or recovered from a disease that just happens like breast cancer, and who have successfully made positive changes.

• Connect these success story personnel with personnel struggling with similar health issues.

• Both staff participating in the mentoring process are doing so on a voluntary basis. Respect the privacy of this very special relationship.

• A Wellness Committee person could be involved from a peripheral standpoint, and be available to share other resources that could  be valuable to both staff.

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