This month, the YMCA of the Prairie is launching a revamped and revitalized Workplace Wellness program for area employers.
"It’s our goal to help area employers retain happier and more engaged employees through workplace wellness," YMCA CEO Riley Gruntorad said. "It is proven that active employees are more productive, miss fewer days of work, have fewer injuries and have reduced stress and anxiety."
The Don Sjogren Community YMCA in Holdrege, the Orthman Community YMCA in Lexington and the YMCA at Gothenburg Health are planning meetings on March 31 to share ideas and explain the new benefits to area employers.
Several employers in Holdrege, Lexington and Gothenburg have already committed to helping their employees live healthier.
"The benefits of a healthy lifestyle seem obvious, and multiple studies and reports confirm it," said Dennis Burnside, Assistant City Manager in Lexington.
He cited a Wellness Council of America report that showed a $1 investment in a wellness program saves $3 in health care costs.
"These studies help justify the City of Lexington’s voluntary wellness program," he said.
The City of Lexington has been committed to workplace wellness for more than 15 years and has partnered with the Orthman Community YMCA for the past several years.
"We are thankful to be able to partner with the YMCA as part of the City of Lexington Wellness Program," Burnside said. "The level of employees choosing to participate indicates they find it worthwhile."
The city’s voluntary program is open to all full-time employees.
Burnside said analyzing the last two years of data, an average of 34 eligible employees (about 47 percent) participate in the city’s wellness program. Twenty-one (about 62% of participants) use the YMCA as part of their wellness mix.
He said the city saw a 3 percent increase in participation in 2019 from 2018.
Their investment in employee wellness has paid off. In a recent comparison of 12 comparable Nebraska municipalities, Lexington had the second-lowest family health insurance premium and the third-lowest single premium.
The city pays membership fees for full-time employees to use local fitness centers, such as the YMCA. In addition to full-time employees, the city offers paid fitness center benefits to volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical technicians, and about 39 percent participate.
As an extra incentive to participate, the city offers employees one hour a month of paid leave time for completing at least 10 hours of physical activity in a month.
By participating in workplace wellness, Burnside said the city hopes to set a good example for all Lexington citizens.
In Holdrege, Phelps County participates in the Don Sjogren Community YMCA’s Workplace Wellness program to encourage its employees to live healthy and active lifestyles.
Employees are reimbursed $25 monthly if they exercise at the YMCA at least eight times per month.
Phelps County Clerk Sally Fox said 14 employees currently participate.
"Those employees are the ones who do not get sick as much, and they are in a better mindset," Fox said. "It has been proven that when you exercise you not only get stronger physically but mentally too."
In Gothenburg, 154 of 164 hospital employees are YMCA members. The employees are given free memberships to the YMCA, which is conveniently attached to the hospital.
"We are very fortunate to have the YMCA located within our facility so it makes it convenient for our employees to take advantage of the facility during their lunch, breaks or before or after work," said Rachel May, Corporate Wellness Coordinator for Gothenburg Health. "We’ve also noticed that having the ability to have a family membership has benefitted several of our employees’ families. They can use several of the programs offered for their children. We have noticed a decrease in sedentary lifestyles."
According to facility usage reports provided to the hospital by the YMCA, hospital employees are exercising at the YMCA an average of four times per week, which is up from three times per week last year.
Part of the increase in usage may be due to new incentives that the hospital adds each year, including wellness challenges and the new health coaching option available to all staff.
As an extra incentive to participate, May said a discount is offered for qualified employees on their monthly insurance premium.
"We also currently offer gift cards toward a wellness reward of the employee’s choice for those who participate in the monthly challenges," May said.
May said Gothenburg Health’s mission is to provide quality, cost-effective health care services and promote the wellness and quality of life in our service communities.
"Wellness starts with us internally as a facility, and we want to make sure that our employees who are giving so much of themselves to take care of others also get the care they need," May said. "We want to support our employee’s overall well-being in any way we can."
May said employees appreciate having the YMCA as part of the hospital’s compensation package because it removes any financial barriers to a more active lifestyle.
For more information about the YMCA’s Workplace Wellness program, contact your local YMCA branch or attend upcoming meetings in each community on March 31. Lunch will be provided at each meeting. Please RSVP needed by March 26.
In Lexington: RSVP to Amy Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org for the meeting at noon on March 31 at the Lexington Public Library.
In Holdrege, RSVP to Holly Johnson at email@example.com for the meeting at noon on March 31 at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA.
In Gothenburg, RSVP to Julie Czochara at firstname.lastname@example.org for the meeting at noon on March 31 at the YMCA at Gothenburg Health.