Perhaps you’ve already made employee wellness a priority. You’ve taken steps to increase physical activity during the workday, support healthy eating choices, and promote healthy habits that employees can share with their families. Now what?

Consider aligning your internal wellness priorities with your philanthropic and community engagement activities.

Why does community engagement matter?

When you chose to make workplace wellness a priority, you likely did so, at least in part, because of some anticipated returns on investment—reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, improved retention, and lower health care costs. However, if your company and your employees are located in unhealthy communities, your investments may be compromised, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You can help improve the health and productivity of your employees by looking beyond the work site to the communities where your business and its employees reside. The potential benefits to your company include:

  • Increased employee productivity through improved health of current and future workforces
  • Stronger brand recognition through increased exposure to potential clients/customers
  • Improved community relations, goodwill, or branding
  • Solid relationships and processes to support community-based problem solving around other issues affecting your business, such as economic development and education

So let’s look at two ways to approach community engagement: as a corporation and as an individual.

Corporate Opportunities

As a company, you’ll need to make a few decisions about your community engagement plans:

  • What area of “health and wellness” do you want to support? Good nutrition, physical activity, stress management, etc.
  • What sort of audience do you wish to reach/support?
  • Will your work be at the company level, or do you prefer to support employees in their individual efforts?

Answers to these questions will guide strategic choices for your community engagement efforts.

Examples of corporate-level community engagement include:

  • Sponsor and/or staff a 5K run in the community, perhaps one that also generates funds for a nonprofit organization with a wellness-related mission.
  • Coordinate a day of service with a school that needs volunteers to complete FitnessGram assessments.
  • Collect age-appropriate physical education equipment for a nearby school or child care center.
  • Invite families from a school, child care center, apartment complex, or place of worship to join your employees at a nutrition and physical activity fair at your worksite.

Individual Opportunities

Alternatively, you might decide to encourage individuals in your company to affect community wellness by leveraging their own spheres of influence—that is, by supporting wellness among the people and organizations that they interact with on a regular basis.

What might that look like? Here are a few ideas:

  • Volunteer on the wellness committee at your child’s or grandchild’s school.
  • Start a walking club that happens regularly in your neighborhood.
  • Start an active play group for kids in the neighborhood.
  • Teach your kids and grandkids how to garden and cook healthy meals.
  • Make sure healthy options are available when you host parties and celebrations for friends and family.

Whatever route you choose for your company’s community engagement efforts, you’ll find free and helpful resources in Jump IN for Healthy Kids’ robust Resource Hub.

Julie Burns
Chief Executive Officer
Jump IN for Healthy Kids