This month Iowa DOT employees will see a change to the annual safety calendar from a pure safety focus to a publication dedicated to employee wellness.
So what exactly is wellness? Wellness is a mix of physical, emotional, mental, financial, and environmental wellbeing.
Since the introduction of the Iowa Department of Transportation University (DOTU), the Iowa DOT Health and Safety Team decided safety information and training would be best utilized in DOTU online courses instead of a calendar. This shift opened up an opportunity to highlight wellness on the calendar.
Ella Voss, an intern in the Office of Employee Services, was excited to tackle the project head on. She is currently a student at Iowa State University, majoring in Kinesiology and Health, and was eager to bring some of her knowledge of wellness from the classroom to the Iowa DOT.
“We are trying to integrate wellness into our lives here at the Iowa DOT, while also not losing sight of the importance of safety and how the two are related,” Voss said. “By incorporating wellness, we can be the absolute safest while on the job.”
An exciting element of the new Wellness Calendar is that each page focuses on a topic pertaining specifically to that month. While creating the calendar, the Office of Employee Services’ goal was to keep the information brief, but informative. For example, February is American Heart Month. The text on the page gives a fact about heart diseases, asks a fun trivia question, and provides a tip to help maintain a healthy heart. At the bottom of the page, there is a link to the Center for Disease Control’s heart disease website so Iowa DOT employees can learn more about the topic and take steps to improve their heart wellness. The calendar follows this same format throughout each month. The idea behind this was to make the calendar more user-friendly and give employees resources to do more research outside of the calendar’s content.
Nola Mortenson Barger with the Strategic Communications team Iowa DOT worked with Voss to build the calendar and give it a fresh, new look. “Ella supplied me with several image options for each month, which I was able to collage into more interesting and fun final products,” Mortenson Barger said. They wanted to make sure the calendar was both attractive and user friendly.
Along with the calendar, the Health and Safety Team has been working on updating the Iowa DOT’s wellness page, where employees have access to helpful resources regarding their wellness at work and at home.
Another upgrade came recently when the Iowa DOT became a member of the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), which was a big step in moving the Iowa DOT forward with helping their employees be well. WELCOA offers a database that provides resources for companies to encourage wellness for their employees.
One example happened last spring when the Iowa DOT held its Walk Across the United States campaign—a team-based walking challenge—and roughly 140 employees participated.
“Being concerned about wellness is the first step into reducing injury here at the Iowa DOT,” Voss said. “Making sure all of our employees are mentally and physically well will allow them to live better lives at home and at work.”
Note: one calendar will be distributed to each cost center in early January. Additional copies are available in the warehouse under item number 000-308020.