Colleen Wright

Colleen Wright, of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, visited Tullahoma area business leaders last week to teach them how to improve the health and wellness of their employees. Wright showed the group all the resources the state has that can help them promote exercising more, eating healthier and tobacco cessation.

For the last five years, Mayor Lane Curlee has endorsed many initiatives designed to help Tullahomans lead healthier lifestyles through his Get Fit! Tullahoma program.

Numerous walking programs and 5K races have been held since he began those initiatives, but there is still room to grow when encouraging people to get more active, eat more healthfully and quit habits that are hazardous to one’s health, such as smoking.

That’s why, last Friday, Curlee invited Colleen Wright, a representative from the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, also known as Healthier Tennessee, to teach the business leaders of the Tullahoma area how they can take steps to make their workplaces even healthier while helping their employees lead healthier lifestyles.

“This is an opportunity to learn firsthand what we can do to help your employees lead a more healthy lifestyle,” Curlee said.

While he acknowledged the steps he had taken as mayor were helping, he said having business leaders buy into that vision for a healthier Tullahoma would help make the effort reach more people.

“We’re got to get more business people – leaders in the community – leading the effort more healthy organizations,” he said.

 

Workplace wellness

There are three main reasons why workplaces should look into creating wellness programs, according to Wright.

Having workplace wellness programs in place can lead to reduced employee turnover and sick leave, increased productivity and satisfaction and lower health care costs over time.

All of these improve the quality of life for employees over time, which can lead to improved confidence in their employers.

Wright then asked the group to supply some steps they had taken in their respective businesses to try to increase the health and wellness of their employees.

City of Tullahoma Human Resources Director Casta Brice said the city implemented various fitness challenges for employees, which encouraged a spirit of collaboration between employees through friendly competition.

“It really encouraged employees to go work out together,” Brice told the group. “It really does boost morale.”

Other businesses, such as Jacobs, have taken steps to remove less healthful items from their vending machines and replace them with better options, such as protein bars and other snacks that meet federal nutritional guidelines.

 

 ‘Small starts’ and resources

When it comes to providing healthier options in the workplace, Wright said the easiest and simplest approach is to take “small starts.”

Making small changes over time can be more beneficial to employees than trying to overhaul the wellness of an individual or a business, she said. She gave examples such as “incorporating walking into your everyday; drinking more water and less sodas” as the basic “little things” that everyone can do to increase their overall health and wellness.

These small steps lead to bigger changes over time, she said, which means they’re more likely to succeed.

In addition to the more common sense steps, Wright also told the group about the online resources the state has available to business owners.

There are four different categories of resources, she said, including ones for individuals, the workplace, worship centers and families as a whole. There is also an app that people can use, call Streaks for Small Starts, Wright said.

For more information on how to improve workplace wellness, visit healthiertn.gov.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.