SHERIDAN — Healthy employees tend to be happier, more productive and miss less time at work. The city of Sheridan aims to create this type of workspace by offering monetary rewards for staff that participate in an employee wellness program.
Human Resources Director Heather Doke last week told the Sheridan City Council at a budget meeting that 43 individuals signed up for the program in its first year.
The city has spent $22,000 for the program so far in the fiscal year that ends June 30. It plans to budget $40,000 for fiscal year 2015-16.
“We’re continuing this program next year and [want to] keep going and hopefully building it bigger and better,” Doke said.
Employees who sign up take part in various fitness challenges. One stressed maintaining weight over the holidays. Another looked into financial fitness.
One aspect employees enjoy is called “good cooking, clean living” and involves a healthy recipe to prepare each week. Participants cook a dish — such as sweet potato hummus — at home and then take a picture to get credit.
The program also includes educational aspects, with classes focused on healthy holiday eating, meditation, heart health and music therapy, all done in conjunction with the Wellness Council of Sheridan County.
“Wellness is all-encompassing,” Doke pointed out.
The city also teamed up with Sheridan Memorial Hospital to offer employees a free blood draw. Ninety-six individuals participated.
City councilors asked whether the wellness program brought the city savings on its insurance. Doke told them it did not at this point, but she hoped it might in the future.
Even without direct financial savings, Doke said the city would indirectly save money. Supervisors notice a lack of absenteeism and increased productivity amongst healthy employees. Also, fit individuals tend to suffer fewer accidents, which can lead to workers compensation claims and higher insurance costs.
“The ones who participate enjoy it,” Doke told The Press. “Healthier people are happier, they miss less work, they are more productive when they are at work and they tend to get hurt less at work.”