Healthy collaboration supports commitment to workplace wellness

Theresa Cross

Smart employers know that a healthy workforce is a productive workforce. Healthy workers translate to less absenteeism, lower health benefit costs and improved worker satisfaction, recruitment and retention. With rising healthcare costs and an aging workforce, the importance of worksite wellness and prevention is clearer than ever.

Unfortunately, knowing is not the same as doing, and many employers struggle to translate knowledge into actual worksite wellness efforts. That’s where participation in a worksite wellness collaborative can help. The newly-formed Clark County Worksite Wellness Network (CCWWN) will support and spur action, share best practices and assist with wellness policies and environmental changes.

Whether an employer is starting an employee wellness program, refreshing or expanding their program, or wants to learn what other employers are doing to improve or measure their program’s effectiveness, learning together and sharing information with other employers can help.

Wellness networks or collaboratives are not a new idea. The Worksite Wellness Network (WWN) in Portland was formed in 2012 to connect, learn and share ideas around worksite wellness.

“The benefits of worksite wellness collaboratives are many, including opportunities for members to openly reveal their hurdles, learn about the latest research, share stories and make new connections with likeminded people, “ said WWN founder, Benjamin Prinzing, regional board chair of the American Heart Association and president and CEO of Kadalyst. “It’s much easier to help our communities get healthier when we work together.”

Tyson Fuehrer, benefits manager for Biggs Insurance, attended many of the WWN events in Portland, but felt that the needs of Southwest Washington employers would be better served by a local network. Prinzing, Fuehrer and likeminded individuals from Clark County Public Health and other local employers have joined forces to create the Clark County Worksite Wellness Network. CCWWN will sponsor two key events in October and series of quarterly networking and educational events throughout the year.

Through the CCWWN, small, mid-size and large employers can learn from one another’s experience and the expert speakers that a wellness collaborative provides.

“Worksite wellness means a lot of things to different people,” Fuehrer said. “We’ve found that using a collaborative approach helps all participants to initiate, maintain and sometimes even re-start a successful program.”

CCWWN events are open to all employers in Clark and surrounding counties in Southwest Washington.

Theresa Cross is a health educator of chronic disease prevention at Clark County Public Health.