For almost 30 years, Wright County has made a
concerted effort to promote employee health through its Wellness Committee. The
mission of the Wellness Committee is to provide educational and physical activities
and programs that contribute to the overall wellness and health of county
The purpose of promoting healthy living has obvious
benefits for employees, but one of the most significant is that health
insurance costs, which most know can be a significant expense, have reduced the
county’s insurance premiums considerably for 2020.
Part of the credit for the reduction belongs to the
Wellness Committee, which encourages employees to do activities that keep them
active and healthier. The program has gone through its ups and downs – it was
briefly disbanded in the early 2000s – but, in 2019, 42 percent of county
employees took part in the Wellness Program, up from 34 percent in 2018.
Wright County Health Program Manager Jenna Kopp said
that the programs are designed to change up activities from one month to the
next to keep employees engaged in the offerings that she, the Wellness
Committee and HealthPartners come up with.
“The program is to provide wellness opportunities for
employees to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” Kopp said. “The goal is
to cut down the cost of health care by giving people opportunities to learn
about different health situations. For instance, we do programs that focus on
specific things to promote good health. One of the programs we’re doing this
month is Movement Matters – increasing your movement in the workplace. We give
people the option and the resources to eat healthier and giving them health
information so it’s easier for them to live a healthy life outside of work as
The Movement Matters program is focused toward
employees who sit in front of a computer screen much of the day. Sitting for
prolonged periods over a long span of time is linked to heart disease, diabetes
and other chronic diseases. Having a healthy workforce means less time lost due
to illness and increased productivity by having healthier employees.
Kopp said the value of the Wellness Committee is
proved out in the numbers of employees that have turned to a healthier
lifestyle and helped the county reduce its insurance premiums, because they are
aren’t having as many sick days and medical visits, which is a source of pride for
Kopp and those involved with the Wellness Committee.
“It has definitely been rewarding to see that some of
the work that is being done, not only with the work that I do, but, on top of
that, with our Wellness Committee,” Kopp said. “They play a big part of it, as
well. Just having wellness be part of the topic and part of the culture here at
Wright County really helps improve our lives. You can see it in the number of
While the goal is to get as many employees involved in
the Wellness Program as possible, the composition of the Wellness Committee is
about as diverse as you can get. Kopp said the idea was to get people who have
very different jobs with the county together because each can bring his or her
own perspective to planning for future wellness projects.
“The committee is comprised of members from different
departments in the county,” Kopp said. “Our goal is to have a representative
from each department so that we’re able to meet the needs of every department
in every building in the county. At this point, we have a representative from
almost every department that are active with the committee.”
It may seem to oversimplify that learning good eating
habits and finding ways to do mild exercise while at work will make you
healthier, but a lot of times it’s just a nudge in the right direction that can
make the difference.
Kopp said she is looking forward to expanding the
program and getting even more participants. Her job is to promote the
well-being of county employees and she is ready and willing to have new ideas
surface to help keep county employees happier and healthier.
“I’m here as a resource,” Kopp said. “That’s what my role
is. If someone has an idea that they want to try that they think would be
beneficial for the employees in the Wellness Program or an area of health that
they want to learn more about or get an expert in to talk to the county about,
I’m that resource to reach out to. My job is to promote healthy activities and
it’s rewarding to see so many employees here taking part in the program and
getting healthier along the way.”