GSDC Workplace Well-Being Initiative

September 15 marked another key milestone in our long-term journey to improve health and well-being for employers and employees as we launched the first annual Well-Being 5 survey with 43 employers in our region. With this milestone, we take stock of our progress to date, now three years in to the Workplace Well-Being Initiative, and we look forward through our plans for the future.

The Foundation: 7 Step Well-Being Process Training and Certification:

We have partnered and contracted with the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) to provide employers in the Greater St. Cloud region with best-in-class workplace well-being training. For close to 30 years, WELCOA has developed and refined outstanding training, certifications, checklists, expert resources, and tools to help its 5,000+ employer members. WELCOA’s flagship “7 Benchmarks of America’s Healthiest Companies” is the training course, certification system, and foundational business process that employers need to start a well-being program or take their existing program to the next level. To date, 80 organizations in our region have become members of WELCOA through GSDC and 21 leaders in our region have been trained and certified in the 7 Benchmarks. Our 5 year target is to have 100+ leaders certified in the 7 Benchmarks process, including CEOs and general managers who want to learn about well-being as a cultural, organizational, and leadership strategy as well as Human Resource and Wellness Committee leaders who want to also understand the operational critical success factors in a results-oriented, long-term well-being journey.

The 7 Benchmarks online training is available anytime from anywhere with internet access through WELCOA’s “Wellness Institute”. This video training can be accessed from smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. GSDC has negotiated a volume discount on memberships in WELCOA, and employers in the Greater St. Cloud region can access individual memberships through GSDC for free through February of 2016 by committing to completing the 7 Benchmarks training and certification. See for more information.

Step 1: Capturing CEO and Senior Leader Support and our Well-Being Pledge:
The first step and benchmark, in the 7 Benchmarks, is to capture CEO and senior leader support for well-being as a business and social imperative in your organization. As a symbol of that support, leaders in our region are signing a thoughtful Well-Being Pledge as a personal commitment to lead-by-example and to integrate well-being thinking into workplace policies, systems, and the overall environment. So far, 205 leaders in our region have signed the Well-Being Pledge. If you, your ownership group, your board of directors, and/or your leadership team would like to read and take the pledge, just click on this link:Pledge Today!

Step 2: Creating Cohesive Well-Being Teams and our regional Well-Being Professionals Group:
GSDC is hosting and supporting meetings for human resource and well-being leaders in area employers to learn more about the 7 Benchmarks, to share ideas, and to help form or develop well-being teams within their own organizations. These meetings will continue several times per year across the coming years as the initiative progresses.

Step 3: Collecting Data to inform well-being improvement efforts and our Gallup-Healthways Well-Being 5 Assessment:
What gets measured gets managed and improved. And, measurement helps inform us where we are strong and where we need to improve. This applies in spades to employee engagement, health and well-being. Gallup is the pioneer in the fields of employee engagement and well-being. Gallup “wrote the books” and developed the “assessment tools” in these areas. Gallup’s 25 year joint venture with Healthways brings the “Well-Being 5” assessment to large employers and health plans across the world, and GSDC’s contract with Healthways brings the Well-Being 5 to small, medium, and large employers in our region. The Well-Being 5 online survey opened in our region on September 15 and will remain open through October 30. In this first year, 43 employer organizations are participating representing more than 3,600 eligible participants (employees, spouses, contractors, etc.). Participants receive a 30+ page Well-Being report immediately after completing the survey with feedback on their well-being strengths, risks and challenges, and recommendations for improvement. Employers (with more than 25 respondents to ensure privacy and anonymity for individuals) receive an Organizational Report with feedback on aggregate well-being strengths and risk areas, to inform organization-wide improvement efforts. And, our Greater St. Cloud region will receive a Community Report with feedback on strengths, risk areas, and improvement opportunities. Organizational Reports will be released in January of 2016 and the Community Report will be shared at the Well-Being Summit in February of 2016. We invite more employers, across more industries and sectors, to participate in this annual Well-Being 5 survey in September and October of 2016, and 2017, and beyond.

Step 4: Crafting an Operating Plan and the WELCOA Templates:
Like any business unit or business process, to be sustainable and impactful, well-being must have an annual, written and thoughtful operating plan with clear roles, goals, budgets, metrics, timelines, etc. Through the 7 Benchmarks course, leaders in our region can download several well-being program operating plan templates that can be cross-referenced and customized to their particular situation. Failing to plan is like planning to fail!

Step 5: Choosing Appropriate Interventions with the help of our Well-Being Resource Directory:
GSDC’s online well-being directory includes local, regional, and national resources, experts, programs, and partners to assist employers in the Greater St. Cloud region with the interventions needed to improve well-being in their particular organization. To date, we have 42 resources catalogued, which is well on the way towards our target of 80 by year 5. Add your organization, or refer an organization, to the resource directory today by clicking here: Resource Directory!

Step 6: Creating Supportive Environments and Step 7: Carefully Evaluating Outcomes through our annual Well-Being Summit:
Save-the-Date for the third annual Well-Being Summit on February 10th, 2016 at the Rivers Edge Convention Center. For now, it would be good to reserve the entire day, and we’ll be in touch later this fall with a more specific timeframe, Summit sessions and recommended audiences and the like. In 2014, we had 80+ participants in the first Summit, in 2015 we had 280+ participants in the second Summit, and we are anticipating more than 350+ at the third Summit in 2016 as the well-being network is growing rapidly. At the Summit, we’ll share progress, the Well-Being 5 Community Report, plans for the future, resources, and potentially also an “expo” of well-being resources to assist employers.

For more information on the Workplace Well-Being Initiative, check out the GSDC website at Wellbeing.GreaterStCloud.Com. Please also feel encouraged to reach out with questions or to learn about the many ways your organization can get involved today by calling Sonja Gidlow, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communication at GSDC. Sonja can be reached at (320) 252-5203 or via email

Thank you all for helping to advance well-being in the workplace, as a key strategy to attract and retain talent, increase productivity, improve health, and build a culture of well-being for your organization and our region.

For more information visit the Workplace Well-Being pages on the GSDC web site or contact Sonja Gidlow at or (320) 252-5203.

Posted on October 29, 2015 and filed under Workplace Well-Being.