Employee engagement, health and well-being at DNRP

When the Department of Natural Resources and Parks’s Wastewater Comprehensive Planning and GIS group sat down to review their engagement survey results, they kept coming back to one thing – improving their well-being. To support each other in this engagement goal, they posted a list of 25 things they can do together, or alone, and place a check next to the item when they’ve done it so the team can encourage each other and hold each other accountable.

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John Conway, Water Quality Planner and Project Manager

“There are so many things I love about this engagement action plan,” said Employee Health and Well-Being Manager Janna Wilson. “We know from research that when people share their goals and progress with each other, they are more likely to achieve those goals.  And, studies have shown that your own behavior can inspire changes in the health habits of those around you. It’s so powerful that this group is finding a way to build a positive team dynamic through their shared interest in well-being.  This is a great marriage of employee engagement and health and well-being, two things that are important to the county’s culture.”

This group of planners well understands the impact of managing risk upstream. They are in charge of looking into the future to ensure that our wastewater system and infrastructure can accommodate the complex and interdependent demands placed on it by population growth, climate change and aging systems. And now they’ve turned this same talent to personal well-being, where the behaviors we engage in daily can have a huge impact on our future health.

“We wanted help managing our own health,” said John Conway, Water Quality Planner and Project Manager. “We wanted to have fun reducing stress. We wanted to build bonds with other staff, promote happiness, improve our diet and help our mental and physical health.”

The group chose well-being from a list of three possible items. First, they met as a staff and reviewed the survey results together and talked about which questions they wanted to focus on. At the end of the discussion they had 11 on the wall and each person got 3 dots to identify their top choices to focus on. Three rose to the top. The team felt the first was not actionable. The others focused on applying equity and social justice skills and health and well-being. To tackle equity and social justice, the team joined in department wide efforts to implement the ESJ strategic plan. To get at well-being, they brainstormed a list of 25 ideas team members could do together or alone. Things on the list include playing ping pong in Occidental Square over lunch, sharing a recipe, and giving someone a compliment.

“We’re a group of planners so we think outside of the box,” said Susan Kaufman-Una, Manager, Comprehensive Planning, Inspection, Modeling, Mapping and Monitoring. “Sometimes we can’t even find the box!”

The list is posted on a “Health and Wellness Tracker” in the work group, where members of the group can anonymously mark when they have completed one of the healthy activities. The most popular things on the list? Walking, exercising and drinking 8 glasses of water.

The most unusual? Coloring, which is attracting participants from workgroups elsewhere on their floor who contribute their own creations to the expanding gallery.

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The team coloring area

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A completed well-being project