Secure staffing and executive leadership support
Allocating dedicated staffing and program resources are critical to the sustainability of your program. While departments may have designated a wellness resource as required by Executive Order W-119-95, a small percentage of time is actually spent on wellness since the Wellness Coordinator often times has multiple job duties (i.e., EAP coordinator, health and safety officer, ergonomics coordinator, etc.). Utilizing existing resources, we found that dedicating a half-time (for a medium-sized department) or full-time (for a large or complex department) position to wellness has proven to be optimal in developing and maintaining a viable wellness program that promotes and sustains a culture of health. When wellness program participation is high and sustained, the Return on Investment (ROI) in terms of morale and productivity more than offsets the investment of time. The sample duties and characteristics can be used as a guide in determining the best person to fill the wellness coordinator role.
The department Wellness Coordinator will be the lead staff person on Healthier U, serving as a project coordinator and working in consultation with wellness staff from CalHR and Labor. Active involvement by a senior executive is a key success factor. If possible, the Wellness Coordinator should report directly to someone in the Director's office. If the reporting manager is outside the Director's Office, the Wellness Coordinator should have direct access to the department's executive leadership.
(with executive leadership, in consultation with CalHR and Labor, to confirm support and discuss goals and framework.)
Explicitly confirming participation by all partners is important for launching the process. As a labor-management partnership, the partners involved in Healthier U include your department's Director's Office, Wellness Coordinator, CalHR, and Labor.
Once the Director's Office understands Healthier U and all that is involved in integrating the model into the department, ask for the Director's commitment to the initiative.
Healthier U's framework includes alignment with the department's strategic plan and executive commitment—making sure the executive leadership is knowledgeable about Healthier U will facilitate that alignment.
Some may want to see activities offered to employees soon after agreeing to the Healthier U model. Explaining the importance of building the infrastructure— establishing the labor-management partnership, designating staffing, setting up the Advisory committee, and recruiting employee leaders—will help set realistic expectations. Communicate to executive leadership that building a solid foundation will ensure a stronger and more successful initiative—wellness research supports this time and time again.
A key element of Healthier U's success is the ability of the partners composed of the Directorate and department Wellness Coordinator, in consultation with CalHR and Labor to work together in a different manner than their traditional labor-management channel. Healthier U is a true partnership where decisions are made collaboratively, goals are mutually determined, and all parties are respected.
Departments may connect union involvement to labor relations. Healthier U resides outside of the normal labor relations process. SEIU Local 1000 became a partner in the project because they want their employees to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.