Prior to the pandemic, my client, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Schools Trust (SEPaST), offered many onsite wellness programs for their teachers and administrative staff. As an organization with a mission to provide high-quality health and wellness programs to 17 school districts, SEPaST is dedicated to keeping their employees engaged in their health.
Our client well-being manager, Trish McGarvey, and I began working with SEPaST in July 2019 to help build their robust worksite well-being program.
Through the Independence Blue Cross Achieve Well-being @ Work program, we organize wellness programs ranging from lunch-and-learn nutrition seminars to full wellness days with yoga classes, guided meditations, biometric screenings, and a wellness vendor expo.
We even hosted some of the school district representatives for a well-being breakfast in November 2019, where they were able to meet our preferred vendor partners who offer the wellness programs that are a part of our Achieve Well-being @ Work program.
Pivoting in a New Direction
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, SEPaST asked Trish and me to help keep their employees engaged in their health during a stressful time. This was especially important as school districts were transitioning from in-person learning to virtual learning. If you are a teacher or know a teacher, you know there are some significant challenges and stressors that teachers are dealing with right now.
Our first order of business was to work with our preferred vendor partners to shift the in-person wellness programming that was scheduled from March through June to virtual programming. Then we worked with SEPaST and their 17 school districts to develop a virtual well-being strategy to keep their employees engaged in their health through the summer. We aligned this new virtual strategy with our well-being program which focuses on four pillars of whole well-being:
- Be active. Provide ways for employees to get and stay active at their various levels of fitness.
- Be nourished. Promote healthy eating habits and food preparation tips to ensure a balanced diet.
- Be energized. Educate and provide resources for stress reduction, energy management, brain health, sleep, and enhanced resiliency.
- Be empowered. Help employees take control of their lives, whether financially, balancing family priorities, or understanding biometric screening results.
Virtual “Worksite” Well-being in Action
We work with the wellness vendors to schedule programs that work best for the teachers’ and administrative staff schedules, which is usually around 4 p.m. We built a schedule encompassing all four pillars of total well-being, including:
- Motivational Mondays. Mindfulness and stress management-themed virtual programming (such as Mindfulness 101, Yoga, and Work Life Balance)
- Wellness Wednesdays. Nutrition, fitness, and stress management programs held virtually (such as Fitness Made Easy, Nutrition Made Easy, Stretch Away Stress)
- Tasty Thursdays. Virtual cooking demonstrations for healthy recipes
Since we’ve started SEPaST’s virtual programming, we’ve seen great engagement from SEPaST employees. We have also received positive feedback from employees of the SEPaST member school districts:
“I need to schedule my time to ensure I do something that I enjoy on a consistent basis. This was really good! THANK YOU! I look forward to your future talks.” – Pottstown School District staff member
“Are Wellness Wednesdays here to stay? I appreciate that the district is offering this, and I would definitely continue to utilize it if it were to continue being offered!” – Upper Perkiomen School District staff member
“Thank you so much for the seminar! It was tremendously helpful. I’ve never been so stressed as a teacher and it reminded me to think about the other parts of my life and prioritize them as well.” – North Penn School District staff member
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