Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
Two types of awards are given. The Sower Award recognizes workplaces that have established quality wellness programs while the Grower Award honors businesses and organizations demonstrating significant improvement in employee health status through their wellness programs
Four Panhandle businesses received the Grower award: Cabela’s, FALCO- Fred A. Lockwood and Company, Panhandle Public Health District, and the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District. There were no winners of the Sower award in the Panhandle.
Nebraska is one of only a handful of states nationwide honoring wellness efforts of employers, with 203 awards given since the program began six years ago.
It’s a partnership of the Governor’s, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, WorkWell Inc, and the Nebraska Safety Council. Governor Heineman emphasized that it’s not a state government program; the state just provides a framework for the participants.
“We’re just trying to encourage participation. Once they get involved, they’re kind of competitive with themselves, they’re competitive with their co-workers, and all of that helps.”
Heineman said prevention and wellness efforts in the workplace benefit employers with higher productivity, better employee satisfaction and lower health care costs. He sees great benefits as well to the employees who participate.
Dr Joe Acierno, who became State Chief Medical Officer this spring, said workplace wellness program empower employees to make good decisions about the health risk factors in their lives, adding that they often have a positive impact even on those not taking part.
“I don’t think you can underestimate role modeling within the organization, that people become examples for other people. They watch you closer than you might even know; they may not say it, but they’re watching and they become very inspirational to other people and then it does become competitive…not only within the organization, but you start becoming competitive with yourself.”
Governor has been an active participant in the wellness program created by and for state employees since it began. Asked how that fits with his well-known fondness for a Big Mac, Heineman said the key is moderation and continued exercise.
“Yesterday, my pedometer showed I walked 20,875 steps. The day before that it was 18,777. The chief medical officer of the state…the former one…always told me if I got to 7,000 or 8,000 by noon, it would be ok to have a Big Mac.
I still have Big Macs occasionally; the key is I’m walking way-more steps today than I ever have and I feel healthier and better. I’ve lost some weight and the big thing is I’ve kept it off.”
Although the governor announced the wellness winners today, he’ll be honoring them in person later this fall at 3 separate events…luncheons in Kearney on September 26 and in Gering on October 3rd and the WorkWell and Nebraska Safety Council luncheon in Lincoln on October 16.
Nebraska businesses can apply for the Governor’s Wellness Award online at www.nebraska.gov/wellness. Awards are presented annually and are good for three years.