The following article originally appeared at genh.healthcollab.org. Click here to see the original.
We recently spoke with Stacey Hoeter, Human Resources Manager with the City of Covington, about the “Spring into Wellness” initiative held April 25-29 for city employees.  Activities throughout the week included presentations and activities designed to help workers deal with stress, learn about healthy cooking, and even try a yoga class. Read on for more!

Where did you get the idea for Spring into Wellness?
We host numerous events throughout the year in an effort to foster employee engagement, teamwork, internal networking, as well as to provide pertinent information. An example of one such event includes offering an onsite employee benefits fair, which encompasses several of our vendors being directly available to our employees. The thought behind our Spring Into Wellness event was that it presented a unique opportunity for employees to integrate wellness activities into their day, obtain information on wellness and healthy living habits, as well as provide an additional venue to bring employees together. Following all the research and planning, five different events were coordinated for the week, ranging from presentations on stress & thriving in a chaotic world, to an onsite yoga class.


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Did employees participate in the planning? How did you engage them around this idea?
Presently, we have a healthcare committee which is comprised of representatives throughout all departments, to include both union and non-union employees. When the idea of hosting the Spring Into Wellness event was brought to their attention, the committee was very supportive! We have an outstanding healthcare committee, which made engaging the committee members, through brainstorming and collaboration sessions, one of the many factors that contributed to the overall success of the event, which we hope to continue with on an annual basis. In addition to planning, following the event, participants received an email with a brief short survey soliciting their feedback in an effort to identify potential points of improvement, suggestions, and even their dislikes, so that we can make next year’s event that much better!

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Recognizing the importance of organizational support for employee wellness, what role did your benefits administrators play in the planning of Spring into Wellness?
As a small Human Resources department, I (HR Manager) and our HR Director, Jo Ann Simpson, rely heavily on our benefit administrators for support and the tools necessary to ensure our employees are properly educated, and have opportunities to attend fun and educational events, such as this one. Our third party administrator was excited to hear about our Spring Into Wellness event, and was extremely generous donating several raffle items those employees in attendance throughout the week’s events. If an employee attended two out of the five events, their name was placed into a drawing for a Fitbit Flex Wireless Wristband, Reds tickets, and a $25.00 VISA gift card. Additionally, we also utilized different resources for presenters and discussion points, such as our Employee Assistance Program and a Registered Dietician.

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How many total employees participated?
We had approximately 20-25 employees attend each event, with the exception of the yoga class, which had 12 employees in attendance. Since this was our inaugural year hosting this type of event, I’m confident that our attendance will increase year over year, as we are targeting Spring Into Wellness as an annual event.

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What has the reaction been from employees?
The overall reaction from employees has been extremely positive. Employees enjoyed the easy going and positive atmosphere, along with sharing tips with co-workers about additional healthy living habits or methods they currently utilize. Events such as this provide an avenue for us to bring employees together for a chance to take a break from their everyday routine, while also learning about healthy topics pertaining to stress management, healthy eating, physical fitness etc. Our employees especially enjoyed the on-site yoga class, which, given the response, we are attempting to organize an on-going weekly yoga class for employees to partake in if they so choose.

Which event would you say was particularly well-attended by employees and/or generated the most interest?
While each event during the week was a success, no matter how big or small, the yoga at work and presentation regarding stress & thriving in a chaotic world were our two biggest successes! The on-site yoga class created a nice break in the day for an interactive event. It was especially nice for those employees who have never attempted yoga; it provided them with an opportunity to learn first-hand, in a relaxed group setting. The stress & thriving in a chaotic world presentation was extremely informative, and our presenter made the group feel comfortable, which led to some very interesting discussion points. We all encounter stress on multiple fronts, so it was nice to learn some tips to overcome those obstacles.

What do you hope employees will take away from “Spring into Wellness” Week? What are the City’s desired outcomes for the program?
One of the ways we are measuring success is through the responses from the participant feedback email. The positive feedback from our employees, verbally or through the participant feedback email, indicates that employees were able to absorb several key takeaways from the events throughout the week! Any piece of educational information that we can provide to our employees that aides their personal or professional goals is well worth it. As a city, implementing programs such as this has benefits in all forms. It not only provides employees with beneficial information pertaining to their health and wellness, but also helps build a solid foundation for teamwork, collaboration, and increased morale by bringing different departments together.

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 Do you think City of Covington will continue this event in years to come, or hold similar events throughout the rest of the year?
YES! We are always seeking new, innovative initiatives to share with our employees. In addition to hosting an Employee Benefits Fair, we hope to continue Spring Into Wellness week in the coming years. Our next goal is to host and organize an Employee Scavenger Hunt, incorporating health and wellness, important facts about the City of Covington, while also branching out to include local business participation!

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 This marks the first in a series of blog posts highlighting Gen-H aligned efforts around the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region, with an initial focus on healthy weight and healthy coping. Check back often for more great stories from local organizations and individuals! To submit your own Gen-H story, please contact Amy Goetz, Communications Coordinator, at agoetz@healthcollab.org