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Crow Wing Energized: Encouraging health and wellness among Crow Wing County employees

Kara Griffin, Crow Wing County Community Services program manager, showcases the healthy vending options for county employees. Submitted photo1 / 2
Crow Wing Energized grant funding helped the county add calming breastfeeding space for working mothers. Submitted photo2 / 2

With approximately 470 employees, Crow Wing County is one of the larger employers in the county.

Employees serve in a variety of departments, including administrative services (finance, elections, information technologies, facilities), county administrator and human resources, transportation services including highway maintenance and engineering, land services (environmental services, assessing, customer service), community services with health and social service, county sheriff and jail/law enforcement, and the judicial center with the county attorney and probation/corrections.

With such a large employee base, they saw an opportunity to build health and wellness initiatives that could reach a broad employee audience. Investing in workplace wellness has multiple benefits. For the county, they saw the benefit of seeking out health and wellness options as a way to have a positive impact on employee well-being, engagement, performance, retention and insurance costs.

To launch the offerings, Crow Wing County obtained grant funding from Resource, Training and

Solutions and through Crow Wing Energized's Workplace Wellness grant program.

A variety of efforts were started, including:

• Lifestyle Classes

• Healthy Vending

• Yoga

• Common Cents (financial wellness)

• Health Assessments

• Health and wellness contests

• Well-being Rooms

• Fit Kits

Future plans include well-being rooms and multi-purpose contemporary break facilities for relaxation, collaboration and fitness.

In addition, specific departments received grant funding for specific efforts. Crow Wing County Community Services received a Healthy Community grant from Crow Wing Energized for Rethink Your Drink efforts. The funds supported a filtered water system to provide a safe and sustainable way to increase water consumption as the healthy alternative to soda. Crow Wing County Public Health and Women Infants and Children received a grant from Crow Wing Energized to expand staff training so more members of the team are able to implement practices that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. Efforts have included creating Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace material to promote to local businesses in order to create communitywide support for breastfeeding.

The impact is showing in multiple ways. Eighty-nine percent of county staff completed an employee engagement survey. Results demonstrate that Crow Wing County's ratio of employee engagement is twice that of other responding employers and the level of disengagement is half that of other responding employers.

The numbers are compared to a large database of primarily private sector employers and, to a lesser degree, public sector employers.

Employees noted that the Lifestyle Class was especially successful due to the convenient location and times offered. The classes were hosted onsite during employee lunch hours. It was a free class for employees, which was helpful to them. Employees liked the weekly weigh in and that it was conveniently located right in the workplace.

"Our focus on creating a culture of engagement is helping foster innovation and performance throughout the county and delivering results that are unprecedented in county government," said Kara Griffin, program manager for Crow Wing County Community Services.

Having a workplace that supports health and wellness makes a difference. As one employee stated, "I'm not going to lie. Some days are harder than others. I like food and I don't like exercising. But having support from the group, as well as family, friends and co-workers, really does help. My total cholesterol is the lowest it has been in years. My triglycerides went down from 223 to 117!"