In 2014, Gaston County, N.C., signed a contract with local CaroMont Health for $172,509 per year, and hundreds of municipal employees have since made wellness a way of life. They are losing weight, quitting smoking, reducing hypertension and more as part of a county wellness program going into its third year, according to the Gaston Gazette.
The partnership has led to a measurable decrease in sick leave and reductions in sick time hours.
We have a great working relationship and we’re very excited about the results we’re seeing in the workplace, not only from employee participation and excitement, but based on the fact that we’re actually seeing some real results,” said Pam Overcash, Gaston County human resources director.
CaroMont provided Gaston County biometric and personal wellness profile screenings for all staff participating in the county wellness program. The contract includes a full-time wellness coordinator that develops group programs that engage municipal staff on wellness and motivate them.
The wellness coach also helps program participants find opportunities to exercise. Group programs have included team weight loss challenges and post-work organized group activities from weekly hikes at Crowders Mountain State Park to yoga classes. There are also incentives, such as drawings for trips, for participating county employees. A recent “Lose to Gain” program attracted 239 county employees to a six-week weight loss challenge that resulted in a combined total of 1,400 pounds lost.
Since the start of the county wellness program, 850 of the county’s roughly 1,600 employees have participated in one way or another, Overcash said. Sick hours by calendar year were 96,519 in 2014, dropping to 86,820 in 2015 and to 83,619 for 2016.
Employee Dedication to Wellness
County officials believe the county employee wellness program has not only reduced the costs and loss of productivity of sick time helped to create a more confident pool of staff who feel better overall. And CaroMont also cites employee dedication for the success of the county wellness program.
The company’s Health Wellness Director, Debbie Bellenger, said “basically, Gaston County government is leading by example.”
“I know within the building I work in, I always see a lot of staff members walking, making sure they get their steps in for the day. I really feel there’s a culture of wellness going on that wasn’t happening when we all started this journey,” Joseph Colomb, Gaston County’s wellness coach, added.