The Sandblog

< Back to Blog

The Path to Workplace Wellness

by Jenn Flynn APPLE Schools | January 14 2016 | 2 Comments

Are you feeling extra motivated this time of year? Perfect. Harness that energy and pour it into a staff wellness initiative at your school! This is a perfect time to engage yourself and your wellness team (if you’ve got one) in a new or renewed staff wellness initiative. Employees may be looking to continue the camaraderie they shared over the holidays and there’s no better way to incorporate wellness than when participants are having fun in a shared experience—when it’s fun, things get done. 

Before you hop on the path to workplace wellness, here are some things to consider that I’ve learned through my own attempts at embarking on a wellness journey:

Start small

Little changes can make a big difference. If everyone picks one small thing to do for health, those small changes can lead to huge cultural shifts. In one APPLE School, all staff were asked what they could commit to try; for example, staff members wrote on a small paper what their goal was for the month of January. Some wrote, I commit to try to only drink water in front of my students; others wrote, I commit to try and walk for the whole time I am on supervision. Each person came up with a small goal and it was posted on a bulletin board in the staff room (names were optional). These small changes were the spark needed for this school to move on to their larger school community health goals.

Track your progress

Did you have a gold star chart when you were little? I would do almost anything to make sure I got all of my gold stars each week, and I have watched this translate to productivity as an adult. However you track, the key here is to make sure your goal, no matter how small, is measurable. Tracking your progress is essential to keeping your goal top of mind and keeping you moving in the right direction. If you’re working on a small personal goal, I still recommend a personal sticker chart—it did wonders for my goal to take my vitamins every day last year, and frankly, stickers are fun.

Create a team

If your school is just starting the workplace wellness journey, start by asking people to participate. You’ll be surprised at how important workplace wellness is to many of us. Embrace your team mates, and remember to ask (beg) colleagues with varied backgrounds to provide suggestions on what wellness challenges could work—diverse perspectives will be your friend. Be sure to focus on challenges that enable everyone to contribute and feel successful. Stay tuned to this forum thread to see your colleagues’ suggestions for recruiting wellness champions.

Celebrate

Remember that change is hard, no matter how small it might be, and that it’s important to recognize the differences you are making. Take some time to reward yourself and others for the great work you’re doing. Being a role model at school is an important step to support healthy choices for students, so take some time to celebrate your staff wellness achievements on an announcement, in the staff room, through a quick visit to the classroom, or at a school assembly. Celebrating your collective efforts is key to maintaining the momentum of fun, healthy school communities. 

Whatever your workplace wellness goal, I hope these experiences will help guide you on your own journey to success. Do you have any of your own tips to share with The Sandbox community on achieving your goals? Please share them below—I’d love to hear from you!

Jenn Flynn

As the director of A Project Promoting healthy Living for Everyone—better known as APPLE Schools—Jenn is a superhero committed to seeing Alberta’s healthy school communities flourish. While her talents in the health and wellness arena are many, they are possibly eclipsed by her ability to balance spoons off her nose. Just don’t ask her to do anything amongst a flock of birds—otherwise known as Flynn-brand kryptonite.

Megan H. ASEBP | January 14 2016 2:57 PM

Great blog Jenn!  

 

The yellow brick road to wellness!  I absolutely love the small steps examples.  It is so true, being a role model of health behvaiours sends a powerful message to students and fellow employees.  As each brick makes up a road, each small steps we take moves us forward. 

Matthew M. Alberta Health Services - @albertahealthservices.ca | January 21 2016 2:37 PM

Thanks for this Jenn! I love the metaphor. It makes me think about the "reward" at the end, similar to the wishes granted by the Wizard. If we follow the yellow brick road, surely the reward will be healthier, happier school employees.