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Putting wellness first

August 23, 2018

Nebraska Public Power District and Educational Service Unit 7 were recently recognized with the 2018 Governor’s Wellness Award for putting wellness at the forefront of their company goals.

The duo was two of 38 Nebraska employers representing 24 communities honored for providing evidence-based work site wellness programs for their employees.

“The businesses recognized today (Aug. 13) are putting people first and are making the workplace a healthier environment,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said through a released statement. “Work site wellness provides an opportunity for Nebraskans to live healthy lives, improve quality of life and help grow a healthier Nebraska for the next generation.”

Both NPPD and ESU 7 were recognized for their high employee participation rates in their wellness programs.

Jenni Moje, employee health and development supervisor at Nebraska Public Power District, said employees of all tiers of management prioritize wellness, resulting in the company receiving the triannual award for the first time this year.

“We are very proud of the wellness culture we’ve developed here and we are continuing to make improvements,” Moje said. “Our employees’ health is very important to us for many reasons.”

Moje said employee participation in wellness programming has increased throughout the years because of the company’s focus on revamping incentives and encouraging spouses to join in, as well. Each participant received an extra holiday when the company reached its 75-percent participation rate.

Moje highlighted two wellness programs provided by NPPD: Drop the Pounds and A Million Step. The Drop the Pounds program was established several years ago and the executive staff decided to participate along with their employees last year. They were willing to show their progress of losing weight while supporting one another to help facilitate more participation.

“They stand behind wellness in our company tremendously,” Moje said. “I think having a strong support from our leadership is key.”

Moje said employee wellness is important in regard to maintaining a healthy working environment, which results in higher production and minimized insurance rates. She said the NPPD wellness committee reviews each employee’s feedback in efforts to meet their expectations.

Just like NPPD, ESU 7 also showcased high levels of employee participation in its Educators Health Alliance Wellness Program, which is led by a group of support staff working together to encourage other employees to prioritize their health. The organization gathered an approximate 65-percent participation rate.

“Our staff has worked really hard to put the health of our staff and employees first and it’s nice to have the governor recognize the hard work that we’ve done,” said Larianne Polk, chief administrator at Educational Service Unit 7, which is an organization providing leadership and services across seven counties including Platte, Boone, Butler and Colfax, in support of teaching and learning improvement.

Since the organization began prioritizing employee wellness several years ago, Polk said ESU 7 has received numerous incentives from EHA, including equipment for exercise and work, to better improve employees’ health.

For staff who spend most of their time on the road, Polk said the organization strives to find incentives to provide them with equipment like seat covers and activity trackers to encourage them to be active.

Polk said one of the major factors leading up to the award was the organization’s community involvement and the generosity of its staff.

“We have some community involvement (and) I think that was unique to us,” she said.

ESU 7 staff have participated in drives to ensure students are well-equipped for the winter, as well as leading seminars teaching youth life skills.

“It’s nice that they have the opportunity now to be recognized for all these great stuff,” Polk said. “The award is important to us to give that energy and encouragement to continue to do it.”

The award ceremonies will be held Sept. 20 in Gering, Oct. 10 in York and Oct. 30 in Omaha.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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