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CEDARS: Be creative with wellness program

CEDARS, a Nebraska-based child-service organization, received a Governor’s Wellness Award this year along with 38 other Nebraska employers. The award recognizes businesses that dedicate leadership, resources and time to wellness efforts in the workplace.

“We have a great wellness committee,” Joy Crawford, the company’s human resource specialist said. “It’s helpful to have such buy-in from the members. We love to share the great things we’ve achieved over the years.”

This is the fourth time CEDARS has received a Governor’s Wellness Award. Crawford, and Kerrie Saunders Jones, associate director of support services, started the employee wellness committee 16 years ago to help CEDARS employees maintain their emotional health.

“We’re currently doing a financial education series, Crawford said. “We have a lot of college students or new graduates on our staff, so they need this information.”

Incentives help with participation, Saunders Jones added.

“We reward our employees for participating in the wellness program, but since we are a non-profit, we have to be very creative with our rewards. Food is a great incentive. Our employees have come to know there will be food with education,” said Saunders Jones.

CEDARS has two locations in Lincoln and one in Bellevue, so they are also creative in coordinating activities that can be duplicated in any capacity.

“We take advantage of opportunities when we’re all already together for other purposes, and then we do a wellness activity the same day,” Crawford said.

Part of the success of the CEDARS wellness program is the Wellstream Personal Health Assessment (PHA) that employees take from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska.

Saunders Jones said, “When you stick with the same health assessment, you get consistent data.”

The company’s PHA participation has increased from about 30 or 40 percent to 60 percent.

“We think our millennials are using the wellness program more because of the technology,” said Saunders Jones. “One of the goals of CEDARS wellness program is to encourage employees to see their primary care provider to help prevent serious health problems.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska Wellness manager Kathy Nellor puts it this way, “Wellness programs are about building relationships. CEDARS employees have great relationships. Wellstream helps build culture and friendships. CEDARS employees think ‘my company cares about me. I should care, too’ – and they do.”

Sampson Construction, another Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska client, also earned a Governor’s Wellness Award this year. Read about that.

About the Author:

Sara is a lead corporate communications strategist at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. She creates communication strategies and tactics to help BCBSNE’s audiences understand the products and services available. Sara is a member of International Association of Business Communicators Omaha. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism with a PR emphasis and minor in business from University of Nebraska Omaha.