Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WOWIE Wednesday: Three Questions with Lynn Creedon, City of St. Charles, WOWIE Winner in 2010

Coming off its WOWIE 2010 Award, the City of St. Charles can offer good advice to those interested in employee wellness programs.  Here at the ILSHRM Blog, we thought it might be beneficial to ask Lynn Creedon, SPHR, and benefits coordinator for the City of St. Charles, about how St. Charles implemented its award winning program.

First, some background:
City of St. Charles, Il  by Night

The City of St. Charles has had a multi-department wellness team in place for 10 years.  (Prior to that time, the HR department handled all wellness initiatives.)  The Wellness Team’s mission is to encourage our employees and their families to become healthier, both physically and emotionally, and to achieve greater balance in life.  The Wellness Team provides ongoing opportunities through programs, activities, and education to assist in achieving a healthier lifestyle.  Additionally, an important part of the mission statement of the HR department is "to hire and develop quality people, and to foster an environment that embraces total wellness.”  We have support from top management which allows employees the ability to participate in our many programs.  We look at the whole spectrum of wellness and have selected four topics on which to focus this calendar year; we present the topics through various mediums several times throughout the year, which enables us to reinforce these foundational building blocks for a healthier lifestyle.  This year’s topics are:

§  Physical/nutrition
§  Safety
§  Emotional
§  Financial
ILSRHM: Was it difficult to convince management to invest in employee wellness?
LC: It was somewhat difficult to get all of the top management on board at first.  We had to provide validation of our efforts and did this through showing the reduction in workers’ compensation injuries, the participation in our HEALTHY program, and through employee feedback from our Wellness Team survey.  Also, for the past three years, a department director has served on the Wellness team, which has provided top level management firsthand experience of our goals and programs. The Wellness Team meets at least once a year with the department directors and City Administrator to provide updates on the wellness initiatives.

ILSHRM:  What advice would you give your HR colleagues about setting up such an effort?
LC:  You definitely need the buy-in from upper management.  The best way to get this support is to provide quantitative data to validate the importance of offering a Wellness program. (There is much research available as well to validate the importance of focusing on prevention and workplace wellness.) It is also helpful to have employees from various departments serving on the Wellness Team so that a cross section of employees can get the word out about wellness initiatives and provide feedback to the team from a diverse workforce.

ILSRHM: How do you measure the effectiveness of your program?
LC:  We do annual surveys to get feedback from our employees, keep data from all of our programs/initiatives, and look at reports regarding absenteeism, workers’ compensation, medical insurance statistics, etc.

If you would like to learn more about the City of St. Charles’ winning WOWIE Award from 2010, post a reply here or email

Guest Post from Chris Martin