Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) values its employees. Their well-being, both physically and mentally, ranks high on the importance scale. So it’s no surprise that the Maricopa Community College was recently recognized as a Healthy Arizona Worksite.
The Healthy Arizona Worksite Program (HAWP) is a statewide public health initiative offered through a partnership between the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. The program provides free training, tools, and resources to help businesses support employee health and wellness.
According to HAWP, 67% of the workforce is overweight or obese; one in four Americans has heart disease; one in three Americans has high blood pressure; and 50% of company profits go toward healthcare costs. But many of those conditions are preventable, and worksite wellness initiatives can help decrease absenteeism, employee turnover, and health care costs; improve productivity; help employees better manage their time and stress; and assist in employee recruitment and retention, just to name a few.
EMCC’s Lyle Bartelt, Wellness Fitness Supervisor, attended the Districtwide Wellness Maricopa HAWP Training last November.
“HAWP provides a way to assess policies, systems, and the environment of an organization for the impact on employee well-being,” Bartelt said. “As a fitness and wellness educator in higher education, I was already familiar with this approach, so my takeaway from the training was simply the structure to apply at EMCC.”
HAWP recognizes employers for their efforts to support employee health and wellness with the Healthy Arizona Worksite Award. There are four levels of the award: Copper, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. EMCC received the Gold level award.
To win an award, employers must attend the HAWP 101 training, obtain a letter of leadership support for worksite wellness, complete a CDC Worksite Health Scorecard, and write a Worksite Health Improvement Plan (WHIP).
“On the surface, the focus of our WHIP may seem rather basic,” Bartelt said. “There are goals for exercise, sleep, and nutrition. However, the more we learn about brain anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, the more certain we become of what we have intuitively known: that healthy habits in these areas support mental health, stress resiliency, the potential for learning, and immune response.”
EMCC’s WHIP includes implementation steps such as soliciting allies, advocates, and champions; publishing guidelines for physical activity and weekly exercise, as well as practices for healthy sleep and healthy eating; and hosting discussions and workshops.
“The EMCC WHIP emphasizes connecting employees with resources so they can more efficiently choose to engage in healthy habits,” Bartelt said.
EMCC received its award during a virtual ceremony on June 11.