Montana Rural Health Initiative

Hardin Worksite Wellness Initiative

The Hardin Food Access Task Force and Big Horn County Extension Service partnered with local government offices to plan and implement a wellness program for County employees. 

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This project began in July of 2012 and to date the group has achieved 3 out of 5 project goals. Local worksites interested in working with the Hardin Food Access Task Force to implement wellness activities for employees have been recruited. The main target population of this project are employees of Big Horn County. Needs assessments of employees and employers at participating worksites have been conducted in order to identify priority areas from a menu of evidence-based wellness strategies. Wellness committees or teams at each worksite have been established. These groups will oversee the implementation of selected wellness strategies and activities within their worksites.

Of the 132 Big Horn County employees 39% completed the Needs Assessment Survey. Employees rated their level of interest in participating in a variety of wellness activities such as attending brown bag lunch guest speakers on different wellness topics, weight loss support group weekly “weigh-ins”, team wellness challenges or competitions and many more. For each activity option presented, there were at least 10 employees who indicated that they were very interested in participating. The Wellness Committee will begin planning those activities that received the highest ratings, but will also implement others for which a volunteer coordinator or champion can be identified. Activity implementation began in January, 2013.

Local eateries have been included in the implementation planning of this wellness program. Eateries were surveyed to determine healthy menu items that could be featured on a walking path map. The group plans to map a walking route that could be completed during the lunch hour and identify local restaurants where employees could pick up a healthy lunch along their way. At least one healthy lunch item was identified on each of the surveyed menus of the seven downtown restaurants. Owners of the restaurants were enthusiastic about the mapping project and very willing to increase the number of healthy menu options available. The restaurant map was created in January, 2013 and posted to various County department bulletin boards.

Participation rates in the activities that are implemented during the winter/spring of 2013 will be monitored to assess levels of employee satisfaction and determine areas for refinement/improvement. The group plans to develop continuing individual worksite initiatives beyond June, 2013 and hopes to recruit additional Hardin worksites into the wellness program. Another long-term goal is to explore the possibility of creating a local worksite network to support the development and continuation of wellness initiatives across Big Horn County.

Contact: Laurie Lautt acxll@montana.edu