Health Department

Employee Wellness Month

Employee Wellness Month
by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director
June 11, 2013

June is National Employee Wellness Month. This is an annual initiative that helps business leaders learn how companies are successfully engaging employees in healthy lifestyles. While this is a national effort with more than 150 large companies participating, locally, the City of Independence is working on its employee health and wellness as well.

In July 2012, the City of Independence implemented a Healthy Vending initiative. With full-time employees spending the majority of their day in the office each week, chances are they will eat at least one meal or snack in the workplace each day. By providing nutritious options at work, employers can support employees in making healthy choices each and every day.

As part of the Building a Healthier Independence initiative, the Healthy Vending criteria affects every vending machine in all City of Independence buildings, whether it be in a break room or in a lobby for the public.

All City beverage machines must offer at least 50 percent caffeine-free and no sugar added products. Examples include: water, diet soda, natural fruit juices and low/non-fat milk. In line with this, all City snack machines must have at least 85 percent of snacks meeting the following requirements: 250 calories or less, total fat may not exceed 35 percent of the calories, total sugar may not exceed 35 percent and sodium may not exceed 350mg.

Another way to encourage employee wellness is to promote the cessation of tobacco use. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25-30 percent and their lung cancer risk by 20-30 percent. Among nonsmokers, secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the U.S. From an employer stand point, smoking comes with high medical costs, productivity loss, and increased building maintenance costs that hurt your bottom line.

Once again, the City of Independence is taking action. Beginning in July 2013, the Independence Health Department (IHD) will be a tobacco-free campus. This will prohibit the use of any tobacco product on IHD premises. This applies to IHD employees, visitors and citizens visiting the IHD to obtain birth certificates, food handlers’ permits, etc.

To aid in the transition of going tobacco-free, the IHD offers free smoking cessation classes to the public. These classes can be attended individually or as a group of co-workers.

The City of Independence is not the only employer that has been making strides to improve the wellness of its employees. Recently Mid-Continent Public Libraries, GEHA Fit Federal Employees, State Farm Insurance (Blake Roberson) and the dental offices of Dr. Scott A. Roberson, DDS, have gone tobacco-free.

If you or your employer would like more information on aiding in the wellness of you or your workers by implementing any of the above initiatives, please contact the Independence Health Department at (816) 325-7185.

Information provided by:, Centers for Disease Control (CDC),