Healthier employees

Posted Sept. 19, 2011, at 8:45 p.m.

Approximately 97 percent of Maine businesses, and many members of the local Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, employ 50 or fewer people. And because most small employers can’t hire someone just to manage a wellness program, it’s smart to use outside screening and counseling resources to create a healthier workplace.

Healthy Maine Works, a project of the Maine CDC, Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Maine Department of Education, has introduced a free online tool that helps employers implement low- or no-cost wellness policies and programs.

Healthier employees are just good business. Benefits include higher performance and morale, and lower absenteeism, workers’ compensation claims and insurance costs. The program’s employee surveys help employers identify problems and risks. An online inventory suggests strategies to address the health and safety priorities the employer discovers.

YMCA staff member Trisha Pendleton began the “Y Not Now” employee incentive for lifestyle change in 2010 and lost more than 100 pounds during the program’s first year. “Thia Belajonas, my wellness coach, has really inspired me to stay active, and try new things,” said Pendelton. “This program has really helped make a positive change in my life.”

For more information about Healthy Maine Works and Keep Me Well through Knox County Community Health Coalition, contact Nancy Laite at nllaite2@myfairpoint.net or 236-6313, ext. 2.

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