Workplace well-being initiative coming to St. Cloud area

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St. Cloud State University has partnered with two St. Cloud area employers to implement a workplace well-being initiative.

The initiative will be funded with a $525,000 grant over the next three years. The grant was provided by CentraCare Health, who is also partnering with SCSU, and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC).

Sonja Gidlow, director of strategic initiatives and communication, explained what each partner brings to the initiative.

Gidlow said that GSDC works to help area businesses grow, and has established relationships and lines of communication with local businesses. SCSU brings health education and resources into the picture, while CentraCare deals with the well-being of the community, she said.

“We want to see more employers have some sort of workplace well-being initiative,” she continued. “It’s not limited to certain kinds of employers. There’s no restriction in terms of what kind of organization you are.”

Businesses in Stearns and Benton County can participate in the initiative, along with parts of Morrison and the northern half of Sherburne County.

Employers can participate in this initiative in five ways. With the grant in place, four of them are at no cost to the employer. A fee comes in with the fifth way, which is a Healthways’ assessment, titled “The Five Essential Elements,” that employers can give to their employees, Gidlow said.

She said that it give employees the opportunity to get a better understanding of their well-being through an assessment that focuses on five different areas.

Often when people think of well-being, Gidlow said that it’s usually about an individual’s physical well-being. The assessment deals with five areas, and although physical is a part of it, there are four others that are to be dealt with.

The areas of well-being are career well-being, which deals with satisfaction in the line of work, social well-being, dealing with relationships, community well-being, which deals with community engagement, and financial well-being.

“[The assessment] really considers them all equal,” and that the five are “interrelated,” she said.

For companies that have more than 25 employees, the assessment provides an overall, anonymous assessment that looks at the levels of the five areas. After completing the assessment, she said the initiative will provide a directory of resources to help improve the various areas of well-being.

“I feel like having those resources there could be beneficial to employees, to let them know they’re not alone,” said said Alanna Xiong, a second-year community psychology major. “By just doing that, it shows support, [and] that someone is there.”

Xiong has been working on campus for a year now. This semester she’s only working Fridays, but said that she could see how one area of well-being could affect others, especially productivity and performance at work or school.

“If I like what I do, it’s more like having fun,” she said. “If I don’t like what I’m doing, I’ll be dissatisfied…I would have a negative attitude.”

“When I enjoy what I do, it’s less stress.”

The Healthways assessment is typically done in companies that have 7,500 employees or more, and isn’t normally offered to smaller businesses, Gidlow said. However, she said they were able to come to an agreement with Healthways.

“We’re putting together a large group of smaller employers to make up that large group, which is what Healthways typically works with.” she said. “Each one of us is going to have a better quality of life those five areas.

“Overall, I think it will be really great for our whole community.”