A Healthier Workplace

Fort Scott Firefighter Colten Hoggatt works out at the Fort Scott Fire Department fitness room Wednesday. The City of Fort Scott has implemented a wellness policy to incent its employee’s  to get fit.

Recently, the City of Fort Scott Commissioners implemented a  policy to engage employees in becoming more fit.

This was in response to the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team challenging businesses to develop wellness policies, Deb Needleman, human resources director with the city, said.

Other entities challenged to promote wellness and physical activity were Fort Scott Community College, Mercy Hospital, USD 234, USD 235, Peerless Products Inc., McDonald’s Restaurant, Landmark Bank and Ward Kraft Inc.

“Fort Scott Community College passed their policy recently, too,” Jody Hoener,  administrator for the Bourbon County Healthy Pathway Grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas Insurance, said. “I talked to (FSCC President) Alysia Johnston, who said they have started painting the room where their (fitness) equipment will be,” Hoener said.

“We are setting up policies to encourage employees to exercise at least three hours per week,” Needleman said. “We’ll be rolling the policy out in January to our employees.”

For her part, Needleman has started CrossFit training.

“The policy will encourage me to do CrossFit three times per week,” she said. “But any moderate physical activity that gets the heart rate going,” will work.

If she continues her fitness program for the whole month, “The following month I’ll get an incentive, a $20 reimbursement in expenses,” Needleman said.

This money can be spent on “fitness club membership, shoes, a new tire for a bicycle or anything related to physical activity”, she said.

The outcome of the policy implementation is expected to be an increase in the level of activity which is intended to help the bottom line of each entity that participates.

“When you have healthy activity, employees are more productive, there are lower health care costs and lower employee absenteeism and higher employee retention,” Needleman said.

For the incentives, employees must meet the criteria set forth in the policy, and Needleman acknowledges that not everyone will.

The policy is not mandatory, Needleman said.

Still, the city has set aside $9,000 to $15,000 in its’ budget to incent employees to get more active.

The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team will survey the city staff in August or September 2018 to find out if the level of activity has increased and thereby are approaching or meeting national standards, Needleman said.

“We will look at and re-evaluate the policy at that time,” Needleman said.

“We were about one-half of the national standard,” when surveyed prior to implementation of the policy,  she said.

Increasing activity is the goal of year one of the policy, Needleman said.

“Year two, we will look at nutrition,” she said. “Healthy eating, food choices in the workplace.”

“Year three we will look at tobacco cessation,” she said.

Each worksite is eligible for $10,000 to implement a wellness policy  Hoener said.

Firefighter Colten Hoggatt, 25, pictured, works out even on his days off for about one hour, he said. The fire department has a separate building on site that it uses as a fitness room.

Fort Scott Fire Department Captain Dale Bolinger said the fire department currently tracks physical activity of each employee and that information is included in their employment evaluation.


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