Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I have the good fortune of being the human resources director for an association in the DC area. I am passionate about health and wellness and my labor of love has been to help to develop a comprehensive wellness program for our 250-person staff.
We started off simply in 1994, with monthly blood pressure checks, annual flu shots, and a small exercise room. As it grew, we added educational programs (including an annual wellness fair), additional health screenings and Weight Watchers at work. Later, we established a wellness advisory team to help the human resources staff research and market organization-wide wellness initiatives.
In 2007, we built a new building, which included a fitness room with exercise equipment and a group activity room. In 2008, we started offering classes – cardio weight training, kickboxing, functional training, yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Our aim was to encourage not just participation, but also retention. Staff signed up for an eight-week session of a class and paid $5 per class; the association subsidized the rest of the cost. Participation was so high that we eventually had to expand our classes to our lunchroom. (We currently have 58 staff members enrolled in at least one exercise class per week.)
While we were very excited about the level of participation, there were still more employees that we were hoping to reach. Not too surprisingly, human nature is often the biggest single barrier to starting a wellness program; people are overwhelmed and think that they are too sedentary and overweight to even begin.
In this case, anyway, television offered us a way forward. We decided to kick off a Biggest Loser program in January 2010 -- 99 staff members signed up to participate! We are in the early stages of our first big weight loss effort; we are looking for ways to enhance our initial plan and taking note of things that don’t work.
I thought our experience might interest others (I started sharing on Twitter, but need more than 140 charcters). Welcome to my blog and to my first blog post.

1 comment:

Krista Ogburn Francis said...

Hi Janet, congrats on your new blog and on your wellness programs. I look forward to learning from what you and your co-workers are doing!