Dodge County Becomes A Blue Zones Project Approved Worksite
By: Olivia Griffith
Blue Zones Project® Dodge County held a ribbon cutting celebration at the Dodge County Administration Building to celebrate the newest worksite to become Blue Zones Project Approved™. As one of the largest employers, Dodge County government employees are leading by example in making healthier choices easier.
Jim Mielke, Dodge County Administrator commented, “The Health and Wellness Committee of Dodge County is really the foundation that started this project and many of the volunteers are here today. It’s important to note that they gave their time and energy and ideas to help all Dodge County employees. As a major employer in the region with over 900 employees, it’s important for the county government to always be viewed as someone who appreciates the volunteer effort and should always be the leader in the area. Being a Blue Zones worksite helps Dodge County keep our leadership role. It’s important when we attract new employees and in retaining all of our employees, to have a positive balance in life of a healthy life- and work-style and the Blue Zones Project captures that very well.”
To earn this designation, the Dodge County Employee Health and Wellness Committee, which includes employees from various departments, met regularly and chose to implement evidence-based best practices in the worksite. The group formed to focus on health in the worksite and expanded its focus to include well-being through its partnership with Blue Zones Project.
Funding for projects related to employee well-being was done exclusively through fundraising efforts.
One way the committee is helping to make health a priority for employees is by focusing on the physical environment at the worksite. For example, Dodge County is adding more healthy items to their vending selection. To decrease the risk of injury, ergonomic checklists are used for both office and non-office employees. Wireless headsets are used by employees who spend much of their day on the telephone. Bike racks and indoor bike storage areas are available at many of the Dodge County government buildings, making it easier for employees to choose to bike to work. Bikes are also available for use during breaks and lunch through the Borrow a Bike program which was made possible by the Beaver Dam Community Hospital Foundation. County employees also have access to pickleball, basketball, and volleyball courts as well as several fitness centers.
Outdoor gazebos and natural trails, as well as a variety of indoor spaces, allow employees to take micro breaks to walk, relax, destress, or meditate. These mindful practices can lead to greater focus and productivity. Taking time to downshift was a regular practice in all five of the original Blue Zones areas.
Employees who have trusted friends on the job are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. Social relationships at work improve employee retention, safety, work quality, and customer engagement. To foster these social relationships, several departments in Dodge County have launched Walking Moais and Potluck Moais, groups that meet regularly to walk together or share plant based meals together. Forty percent of Dodge County employees have either joined a Moai or signed the Blue Zones Project Personal Pledge, a menu for individuals that offers suggestions on how to modify your personal surroundings to improve health and well-being.
Signs placed throughout the building along with well-lit stairwells nudge employees to utilize the stairs rather than take the elevator. These simple prompts make it three times more likely employees will choose to use the stairs. Using the stairs, rather than the elevator, increases daily physical activity in the workplace and may contribute to the prevention of chronic disease.
The Dodge County Employee Health and Wellness Committee continues to look for ways to improve employee well-being. Through their Working for Wellness program, regular newsletter communication is shared with employees and keeps health and wellness top of mind in the worksite.
“Our county government’s choice to become a Blue Zones worksite is an act of great leadership in our community. Dodge County is a leader among its peers and so many ventures to make the lives of its citizens better. Our county board’s act to welcome Blue Zones in to assist our employees promotes the project throughout the county and promotes the health and wellness of our greatest asset, our people,” said Kurt Klomberg, Dodge County District Attorney.
Brought to Dodge County by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC, Blue Zones Project is a community-by-community well-being improvement initiative—designed to make healthy choices easier through sustainable changes to environment, policy, and social networks.
For details about becoming a Blue Zones Project Approved organization or general information about Blue Zones Project, Dodge County, call 920-212-8511, or visit dodgecounty.bluezonesproject.com