Worksite Wellness for Child Care ProfessionalsAugust 18, 2022 | By Child Care Aware of Kansas
By Andrew Hodgson, Nutrition Coordinator, Child Start, Inc. Originally published in the Summer 2022 Issue of Kansas Child Magazine.
More than half of medium and large companies operate wellness programs, which can boost morale and productivity, support general health, complement culture, and introduce a little fun to the workweek.
Small businesses and organizations may not have the same resources as large corporations, but they can promote worksite wellness, too. If you’re interested in starting a wellness program at your child care facility, consider these tips and ideas.
Choose wellness topics that are relevant to your staff.
Know your workforce and what matters to them. If your staff members are struggling with stress, use the wellness program to highlight mental health, rather than prioritizing physical health. Tailor the language and challenges to resonate with the demographics of your group. For example, some people like going to the gym, while others enjoy keeping up with the grandkids at the zoo.
Potential focus areas include:
- Physical activity
- More healthful eating
- Mental health
- Tobacco and substance use reduction
- Good sleep
- Creative expression
Implement wellness incentives that match your culture, values, and goals.
Your work environment should support healthful choices with cues and nudges , such as salads at potlucks or permission to take mindful breaks. Wellness challenges should match your organizational goals. For example, if the goal is to create a collaborative environment where people work together to solve problems, a competitive wellness challenge with winner-take-all prizes may not be a good fit.
Offer desirable prizes to boost results.
Keep the focus on personal wellness, and avoid too many incentives. Think creatively to keep costs down. For example, you might collaborate with a local business to offer a discount or a prize package rather than simply buying gift cards. Try to gauge staff needs and desires without asking directly. Keep an “ear to the ground” or use anonymous surveys to learn more about what kinds of incentives might delight your staff. Then spend some time writing out the rules clearly so there’s no confusion about what it takes to win.
Establish a wellness committee.
Committee members should represent the diversity of the staff and include varying perspectives on wellness. Welcome new members, and be open to suggestions from the committee. Some wellness programs lose momentum when a champion leaves or when the leader’s preferences take center stage.
Apply data and feedback to re-evaluate, fine-tune, and refresh the wellness program regularly.
Too many changes can confuse staff or deter participation, but the program must not become stagnant. The right answer today may no longer fit tomorrow.
Andrew Hodgson, Nutrition Coordinator, Child Start, Inc.
Andrew is a health coach with a B.S. in human nutrition, currently studying economics. He has six years of experience in school and community nutrition and worksite wellness at Child Start, Inc. Andrew is a home gardener and avid reader and enjoys writing and mountain adventures.
Child Start, Inc. was named a Top 3 Finalist for the “Working Well” award in Wichita in 2019. We feature a monthly wellness calendar that tracks basic, healthful behaviors with a personal challenge option that allows staff to trade two sick hours for “Wellness hours.” Our volunteer Wellness Committee includes 12 members from different departments who vote on new ideas in quarterly meetings.