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Post-Conference Reflections

By: Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

We just wrapped up another successful Midwest Worksite Health Promotion Conference, which was held on November 13 at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Our goal in hosting this conference is to bring other professionals together for a day of learning, sharing, networking and re-energizing. A common comment we hear from participants is, “We already know the dire situation of the health of Americans. What we want to know is, how do we change that?” Well, if it were as simple as handing you a list of 10 concrete things you can do to change employee behavior…we would already be doing it!  Unfortunately people are more complex than that. And each company has its own unique challenges to work around. Whether you’re a veteran of the industry, or new to the world of worksite wellness, you know that much of what we do is through trial and error. There is no fool-proof prescription that works for each company.

It is easy to get dragged down with depressing stats and figures about how obese we are getting, how many of us are smoking, and how few of us are regularly active. But then I remember all of the great success stories we’ve heard: how many people lost weight and kept it off because of a campaign their company ran, or how they quit smoking when their worksite went tobacco-free. And what we often don’t see is how those people in turn influence the people in their own lives with their transformation, inspiring them to make changes too. No matter how many programs we offer, it is ultimately up to each individual person to make the decision that their health is going to be a priority. And when they reach that point, they will engage in worksite wellness. We can’t make people change, but we can be there for them with education and support when they’re ready to do it themselves.