Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences has once again been named a Platinum Healthy KC Workplace Wellness Certified Company by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. The criterion includes companies that prioritize work place health through Physical Activity, Tobacco Cessation, Work/Life Integration, and Design/Built Environments. You can read more about the program here.
KCU has not only met the KC Chamber standards but strives to surpass them. Julie Deane, director of human resources explains how:
Describe KCU’s commitment to corporate wellness:
Improving the well-being of the communities we serve starts with taking care of our own people first and making sure they are healthy and well.
Through KCU's Wellness Program Improve U, we strive to enhance the physical and emotional health of our employees by providing information, activities and services to support healthy lifestyle choices.
Our wellness program is rooted in three pillars – physical, restorative and financial health. Every wellness offering we share with our employees is focused on one or more of these pillars with the goal of making a meaningful impact on their well-being by changing behaviors, and promoting a culture of wellness within the entire KCU community.
Our commitment to corporate wellness is also evident in the wellness incentive discount we offer to our employees on their benefits premiums. This wellness discount for completing the program requirements is up to $40 off our employees’ premium per month.
What are some of the innovative programs KCU uses to promote wellness?
We start our new employees on the right foot from their first day on the job. All new employees are given a Fitbit as part of their welcome package. This really helps set the tone from the beginning that we are focused on wellness at KCU. Once you have a steps tracking device, the rest is putting in the work. KCU has hosted several steps challenges with over 60% employee participation, including the entire KCU leadership team. Another fun program we have is hosting on-site lunch and learns with live demonstrations on how to cook healthy meals.
KCU has a community garden which produces 1,300 pounds of produce a year, utilizing 365 volunteer hours. It’s always great when you can do meaningful community service work while focusing on creating healthy eating habits. I think this is what makes KCU so unique – we live our mission every day through everything we do.
How does KCU meet the challenge of encouraging employees to choose a healthy lifestyle rather than have it forced on them?
It’s like building a Lego house. You have to have a strong foundation first, otherwise it all falls apart. We start with laying a good foundation by shaping and nurturing positive attitudes through education. Education has to come hand-in-hand with providing the right opportunities for our employees to engage in KCU’s variety of offerings and choose to live a healthy lifestyle. Most importantly, we try to make it easy and fun to take on a wellness challenge or a wellness goal. Easing in by conquering achievable goals that are not too overwhelming can be a good strategy when trying to drive a change in behavior. It’s not so daunting if it’s doable. Little by little, you start making healthy choices on your own and building your own healthy lifestyle.