Local businesses take part in health and wellness challenge

JOPLIN, Mo. - Jillian Pollard says it's the perfect time for the Joplin Health Department to take on their next challenge.

"The city as a whole had just completed a 'get healthy, lose some, win some' challenge," Pollard explained.

So she and several others formed a team to compete in the "Healthy Business, Healthy Community Workplace Wellness Challenge," a program offered by the not-for-profit Small Business Majority.

"I thought this would be a great way for them to keep track of what they're doing, to maintain the progress that they had made, the work that they were doing," Pollard added. 

The challenge works like this: 

Those participating can use something like a Fitbit, or an app on their phone to keep track of the number of steps they've taken.

That information, along with any other additional workout information, is then logged on a website, and points are allocated to each team and individual.

"It also focuses not just on physical activity, but on the employee as a whole and on the employer as a whole, so you can also get points for drinking eight glasses of water, or meditating," said Mary Overbey with the Small Business Majority.

While it is a competition, pitting teams in Joplin and Springfield against teams from the St. Louis area, Overbey says there aren't any losers here.

Freeman Health System Wellness Coordinator Kris Drake says when an employee isn't healthy, it can have a big impact on the bottom line.

"Increased healthcare cost, loss of productivity, more potential maybe for injury or some safety issues," Drake explained.

Drake says Freeman is a supporter of healthy workplaces, and has even found a way to help local teams rack up a few extra points for the challenge.

"This weekend, Freeman is sponsoring the Race for Hope, which is the Hope 4 You Breast Cancer Foundation's 5k."

Pollard says at the health department, the impact of the program is already evident, because it's got everyone talking.

"There's definitely conversation between those of us who are participating, and even those who aren't participating," Pollard continued. "It still comes up in conversation."

The Small Business Majority offers several tips for creating a health initiative at your small business on their website, which you can access by clicking here.

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