August 2016, Vol. 1

How districts are promoting wellness in the workplace

by Zach DiSchiano

Eat fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. Stress less.

These may sound like bits of advice you heard from your parents, but they’re actually competitive challenges initiated by Pasadena ISD in hopes of supporting a healthier workforce. For the majority of the school year, teachers and staff actively participate in a multitude of health-related contests in hopes of winning prizes and improving their overall wellness.

For example, PISD started a “Drink More Water Challenge” in which staff members were encouraged to drink eight or more glasses of water for two consecutive weeks. You can view the tracking sheet they use here.

PISD also has a Spring Volleyball League open to district employees and spouses. These events and competitions provide various rewards to staff members for pursuing a healthier lifestyle, and also help convey to the employees how seriously the district takes their physical and mental well-being. PISD was named a “Best Place to Work” by the Houston Chronicle last year, and by looking at the measures they take to ensure the welfare of the staff, it’s not hard to see why.

PISD is just one district where employee health is made a major priority. In Austin ISD, the district’s “E-Wellness” website offers resources and tools for employees to live healthier. AISD employees are given discounts on gyms like 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, and YMCA. They also get reduced pricing on yoga and other exercise classes.

El Paso ISD has a list of the top-10 staff wellness activities for schools to implement on their campuses. Some of these activities include fitness challenges similar to the ones at Pasadena ISD, but they also have other ideas like hosting a race that supports a cause, starting a healthy recipe contest, and planning a health fair.

Many districts, such as Plano ISD, have a web page dedicated to staff wellness that feature resources for employees independently working on improving their health. Some districts just have links to other government websites focused solely on how to eat right or other specific health information.

As new generations cycle through the education workforce, it is important to recognize what they value most. Studies show that millennials are not motivated by money, but by workplace culture. Placing an emphasis on the well-being of teachers and other staff could impact the perception of your district in a positive way and help with recruiting and retention.

Click the links above for some ideas on how to promote wellness in your district.