K-State Olathe receives healthy workplace designation by Greater KC Chamber

Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017

OLATHE — Kansas State University Olathe has been named one of the healthiest workplaces in Greater Kansas City for the second year.

On Sept. 14, K-State Olathe was honored as a Gold Level Healthy KC Certified Organization by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. The certification recognizes an organization's efforts to create a workplace that promotes health and wellness among its coworkers through exercise, healthy eating, tobacco cessation and other efforts.

Gold is the highest level of certification awarded by the chamber. The campus was also named a gold level workplace in 2016.

"At K-State Olathe, we champion the balanced pursuit of academic excellence, overarching critical thinking, quality of workplace and life," said Dean Vakas, chief operating officer at K-State Olathe. "We work hard to create a collective healthy environment that is easy to embrace."

The gold level certification was awarded to K-State Olathe based on several employee initiatives and actions. These include:

• Participation in the State of Kansas' optional health rewards programs and its wellness challenges, lifestyle coaching and online seminars;

• Participation in the Purple is Progress universitywide walking challenge, which tallies employees' daily steps for a month;

• Hosting lunch and learns about how to stay physically active at work;

• Posting health tips and information on bulletin boards and digital signage around the building;

• Bringing healthy food options to potluck events and serving healthy options at employee lunches and events;

• Hosting community yoga and strength training classes twice a week during the lunch hour;

• Organizing physical activities, such as bowling and golfing, for employees to use as community building events; and more.

Additionally, multiple K-State Olathe employees walk, run or cycle over their lunch break; play in a coed recreational sand volleyball team outside of work; and compete in cycling and running competitions.

"For me, the draw to help organize activities is that we get to do something fun while building relationships," said Nate Scherman, IT manager, who is coordinating the walking competition and several of the community building events that involve physical activities. "Walking, playing volleyball or completing other activities together are great ways to develop trust between colleagues, and it shows in the way we work together."

"One of the best aspects of working at K-State Olathe is the commitment of leadership to allow employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance," Scherman continued. "The research and data show that employees are more productive when they break up the periods of sedentary work, and that is not lost on our leadership team."

The application effort to the chamber was led by Roberta Robinson, manager of human services. She worked with Bryan Severns, director of food programs and services, and Scherman on the health and employee participation aspects of the form.

Healthy KC is an initiative launched by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and regional health and wellness leaders. The initiative was created in response to national health rankings showing a decline in the overall health of citizens in Greater Kansas City. Recognizing healthy activities at workplaces is one of the five areas of focus for Healthy KC.