BCL Establishes Internal Employee Wellness Program
Better Community Living, Inc. (BCL) is proud to announce its participation in the Massachusetts Working on Wellness project – an initiative aimed at establishing an internal wellness program for employees. Funded by the MA Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, the project is overseen by the MA Department of Public Health. BCL received $10,000 seed funding and will match 50%, bringing the total to $15,000.
An on-line Needs and Interest Survey distributed to BCL staff helped to identify employee wellness interests, as well as common health risk factors. This information helped formulate the basis of the program, which has been successfully launched and implemented by BCL’s new Wellness Committee. The program includes educating employees on how to make healthier food choices, while providing access to resources that support heathy eating. Further, employees have been provided opportunities to become more physically active through community programs, gym memberships, and company-sponsored events. Potential work stress factors were also reviewed and programs were developed to address diminishing those factors to foster less stress among employees.
Daryl Lopes, fulfilling the role of the grant-required Champion of the new BCL Wellness Committee, says this grant has been especially beneficial to BCL employees. “There needs to be a wellness component to an employee’s life to have success and reach many of the goals we set. You have to be mentally attuned and physically ready to care for individuals that can’t always necessarily say what they need. That can make it hard and stressful,” Lopes says.
Lopes charges a committee of colleagues who serve to establish goals and objectives, and organize programming in line with the grant’s purpose. One of the first initiatives under the grant was the agency’s first ever Wellness Fair. The public event advanced awareness and offered information to both staff and the community on local wellness resources.
Staff are also actively involved in a Wellness Competition, which uses a points-based system, paired with incentives and prizes for making healthy choices. “Staff earn points by tracking their fruits and vegetables, their water intake, by checking into the gym, for every 15 minutes of activity, for attending wellness meetings, and points for turning in their tracking sheet,” stated Lopes. Employees win prizes when they reach certain milestones, with large prizes available at the end of the challenge. In just its second week, numerous staff had already reached their first tier goal.
To further support and serve its staff, BCL has hosted free cooking classes, a free Zumba class, and guidance on using the Fitness Pal app and keeping a weekly food journal.
“Healthier employees are happier employees. They’re out less, and they take time off for vacation more than for sick days. We’re hoping to have success with this program, make it sustainable, and make people aware of what they can do to improve their health,” Lopes says.
Further, wellness can address some of the challenges that BCL employees face on a daily basis. “Stress, poor eating habits, if you’re not in decent shape… its easy to run your body down. If you had a child or loved one with a disability, just like caring for aging parent, there is a stress level that goes with it. You want to provide them with the best possible care, but that takes effort,” says Lopes.
The committee is therefore determined to encourage its employees. “We’re really hoping that employees will take notice of what we’re doing. We notify them through our employee website, implemented email for all staff members to keep them in the loop, and hopefully soon we will have a Facebook page specifically for BCL wellness to get and keep them engaged.” He added, “For me personally, it’s good competition. I’m already down 20lbs.”
Workplace wellness is a growing movement to support a company’s employees, foster an environment of health and well eing, and also serve as an added perk for any prospective future employee seeking to work for a company that supports his/her health. BCL intends to continue the program for the long-term, to pro-actively support the wellbeing of its employees.