Health Links (HL): Why is the health and safety of your employees important to you?
Manatee County Government (MCG): Our employees are our most critical asset, they are the backbone of this community and their service is what makes Manatee County a great place to live and work. The healthier our employees are, the happier they are and the higher level of service they provide.
(HL): What does your workplace health and safety program look like? Do you offer both components to employees?
(MCG): We have a very comprehensive health and wellness program wrapped under our medical plan for our employees. We offer an integrated, onsite approach to health and wellbeing and drive employees and their family members to engage in preventative care as well as advocacy services to help enhance their well-being. We have a team of approximately 20 Advocates, clinical and administrative, that work collectively to ensure our employees have all the tools they need to be their best in terms of their health, wellness and medical needs.
(HL): How will you/do you know your program is successful?
(MCG): We measure our success by our health plan experience and we have a negative trend since 2009. In other words, we are spending less tax payer dollars on health care for our employees and haven’t had to shift costs to our employees via benefit reductions or high deductible health plans. We also gage success via the reduction in chronic conditions with our population and the engagement and outcome of our employees in preventative care and the variety of health and wellness programming.
(HL): What obstacles did you have to overcome to get your program started? How did you overcome them?
(MCG): This program started back in 2006 and we had a very forward thinking administration and Board, it was a risk they were willing to take to help employees get healthier while also believing that it would be better for our tax payers. The result held true. We continue to have opportunities to find ways to reach some of our remote worksites and field workers while balancing the needs of the department and workload. We are doing this by connecting with the remote worksites through a wellness champion and creating a custom program for those groups of employees based on their needs, and the culture of their worksite.
(HL): Does your health and safety program help give back to your community?
(MCG): The County is a non-profit entity and the way that we give back is by helping manage our tax payer dollars that support our programs, spending that money wisely and doing all we can to continue to reduce the costs of healthcare. Additionally, our employees and their family members are community members and their jobs at the county are to serve our community, so helping them, helps our community.
(HL): What tip/advice would you give to a business that is considering starting a workplace health and safety program?
(MCG): Do what is right for your employees, they are the reason you have a successful business. There are times where you need to spend a little to gain/save a lot, and workplace health and safety programs do just that. Create opportunities where employees, regardless of their stage of change, can learn about ways to get healthier as well as actively engage in ways to become healthier. Be open-minded about employee’s busy lives and make the best choice, the easiest choice for employees by allowing engagement in health and safety activities at their place of employment.