Employee health focus of conference

By Meg Haskell, BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 13, 2010, at 7:57 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Maine’s small businesses have a lot to gain by adopting workplace policies that enhance their employees’ health and well-being, according to Jamie Laliberte, executive director of the nonprofit Wellness Council of Maine.

By investing in health screenings, education and other relatively low-cost strategies, she said in an interview on Wednesday, even the smallest companies can increase employee morale, retention and productivity.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the Wellness Council of Maine will host a half-day conference at Husson University aimed at bringing businesses with 50 or fewer employees up to speed on workplace wellness, a growing trend among larger employers nationwide. With sponsorship from Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., St. Joseph Healthcare, Community Health and Counseling Services and Husson University, the conference costs $10 per participant.

“If employers can take the time to attend, they will certainly walk away with tools they can use in their places of business,” Laliberte said.

The agenda features presentations from five area experts in workplace wellness, including nurse and exercise specialist Debi McCann of Eastern Maine Medical Center, Operations Manager Dan Dauphinee of Northeastern Log Homes, and project director William Primmerman of the Greater Somerset Public Health Collaborative.

Although large companies have a long-term incentive of reducing employee health insurance costs, smaller companies, including those that do not currently offer health insurance, still can benefit by promoting the health of their workers, Laliberte said.

“Smaller businesses may think this isn’t worth their time and money,” she said, but low-cost interventions that encourage healthful behaviors and self-care can improve not only employee wellness, but also the bottom line.

“Business is business,” Laliberte said. “It’s important that employers be transparent that this is for the betterment of the company.”

The Wellness Council of Maine, based in Bangor and affiliated with the Wellness Council of America, promotes workplace wellness programs for Maine businesses.

For information or to register for the conference, call Laliberte at 947-0307 or visit www.wellnesscouncilofmaine.org/Events.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/10/13/business/employee-health-focus-of-conference/ printed on July 31, 2014