SHIP collaboration with Saint Paul Chamber promotes workplace wellness efforts
For small to mid-sized companies, establishing workplace wellness initiatives can be difficult, especially if they don't have human resources staff to support them.
Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health, a Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grantee, collaborated with the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce (SPACC) to help the chamber's smaller business members start workplace wellness initiatives. The partnership also helped SHIP reach employees in communities experiencing health inequities.
The alliance has been important for the chamber too, according to SPACC president Matt Kramer. Workplace wellness is good for business.
"We partnered with Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health because we realized that health care costs can be lowered when employees lead healthier lifestyles," Kramer said. "Whether it's exercise, healthy eating, tobacco cessation or breastfeeding support, companies can start programs that can influence their employees."
Working with Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health, the chamber awarded 22 microgrants to employers in 2016 that were used to establish breastfeeding rooms, commuting programs, healthy food in vending machines and more. Great River Greening, for instance, used a microgrant to upgrade an employee break room and kitchen prep area, making it more convenient for employees to prepare their own lunches.
Another round of grant funding will open this spring to new and existing wellness partners in the county.
Toolkit helped effort reach diverse populations
Kramer created a toolkit that employers can use to establish their own workplace wellness efforts. It was translated into Hmong and Spanish and was downloaded more than 1,500 times in the first several months it was available.
The translations of the toolkit supported one of the goals of the effort, which was to reach the county's communities of color.
Chamber members also helped leverage connections within the community.
"We asked our partners at the chamber level (including the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce, the Hmong Chamber of Commerce and several business associations) to share the toolkit with their members," Kramer said.
"We have members in diverse communities," he said, "and leveraging these connections became a key to getting the word out and that made it work."