Guam: Worksite Wellness Program Promotes a Healthier Workforce
Chronic diseases, such as heart disease or stroke, are the leading cause of death in Guam. Guam’s death rate from heart disease or stroke is more than 80% higher than the US rate. Complications from chronic diseases harm employees’ overall health, increase health-related expenses, and reduce productivity at work. Since most people spend much of their day at work, employers can help people develop healthier habits and reduce the impact of chronic diseases. By promoting workers’ health, employers also can boost workplace productivity and reduce sick days. The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services used Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funding to create the Worksite Wellness Program (WWP) for health department employees.
Eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting daily exercise can help prevent chronic diseases and reduce complications for people already living with them. The WWP encourages employees to adopt healthy behaviors during the workday and provides opportunities and resources to help them. For example, the program allows employees to exercise while at work and to learn from trained health coaches who teach nutrition, healthy cooking, exercise, and stress-reduction classes. The coaches also perform medical screenings for employees.
The success of WWP inspired more than 1,200 employees to participate in physical activity at five local gyms in 2016. Also, many health department agencies initiated special WWP activities, such as weight loss competitions, running clubs, walking meetings, and opportunities to share healthy recipes. Employees reported that WWP helped them develop stronger working relationships, take fewer sick days, and reduce the amount of medications they took.
For its success in fostering a healthier workforce in Guam, WWP received the Governor’s Award of Excellence in 2014 and 2015.
Story year: 2015