Wellness program helps build teams, improve workplace culture

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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According to the Defense Logistics Agency’s People and Culture Plan, “if you take care of your people, the mission will happen.”

That’s precisely the focus of DLA Troop Support employee Megan Ward and the Industrial Hardware Culture Improvement Team’s “Wellness Wednesday” program as they prepare for their next monthly meeting Feb. 26, sharing wellness tips and techniques to help create a healthier workplace that encourages a positive climate and an effective workforce.

The concept, Ward said, is an evolving series of wellness topics ranging from physical and emotional to professional and educational. The goal is for employees with varying levels of expertise and experience to share their successes and failures in a moderated setting.

“The feedback that we’ve been getting is all positive,” Ward said after the inaugural meeting on Jan. 29. 

Gail Kolb, a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Industrial Hardware employee, uses a “benefit and effort matrix” to evaluate the impact and work needed to accomplish wellness goals during the IH Culture Improvement Team’s first “Wellness Wednesday” event Jan. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia.
Gail Kolb, a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Industrial Hardware employee, uses a “benefit and effort matrix” to evaluate the impact and work needed to accomplish wellness goals during the IH Culture Improvement Team’s first “Wellness Wednesday” event Jan. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia. The program aims to improve workforce culture through monthly meetings focused on a variety of wellness tips and techniques shared by fellow employees.
Gail Kolb, a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Industrial Hardware employee, uses a “benefit and effort matrix” to evaluate the impact and work needed to accomplish wellness goals during the IH Culture Improvement Team’s first “Wellness Wednesday” event Jan. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia.
Wellness program helps build teams, improve workplace culture
Gail Kolb, a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Industrial Hardware employee, uses a “benefit and effort matrix” to evaluate the impact and work needed to accomplish wellness goals during the IH Culture Improvement Team’s first “Wellness Wednesday” event Jan. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia. The program aims to improve workforce culture through monthly meetings focused on a variety of wellness tips and techniques shared by fellow employees.
Photo By: John Dwyer III
VIRIN: 200129-D-XL571-0012

While the first session focused on how to evaluate wellness priorities through use of a “Benefit & Effort” matrix, the next two meetings will transition to nutrition and coaching.

Group participation is key to her concept, Ward said, but she tries to include qualified moderators for specific topics whenever possible. She also said the program is about sharing ideas – not providing instruction.

“My goal moving forward is more participant participation,” Ward said. “I want to focus on getting everyone to share their experiences – what worked and what didn’t work for them.”

Wellness doesn’t have a set of right answers, Ward said. It’s about finding what works for the employee.

“You gotta have a lot of tools in your toolbox to be resilient and [accomplish goals],” Ward said. “Taking three deep breaths isn’t always going to work and get you through every challenge. You need to have an arsenal of tools in your wellness toolkit.”

She believes Wellness Wednesdays will provide a forum to both build that toolkit and increase positivity in the workplace.

“We’re all experts in something,” Ward said. “I want everyone to see that their coworkers have a lot of expertise. We should be using each other for networking; for health wellness and happiness and sharing that around the office to improve the workplace climate.”

When Ward brought her idea to the attention of the CIT, a group dedicated to improving workplace culture, the concept found a perfect pairing of need and skills, CIT Chairperson Taylor Fontana said.

“Teambuilding and networking was a big thing [in the 2018 Climate Culture Survey],” Fontana said. “So when Megan came to me with the concept, I thought: ‘This is a great way to address [the survey improvement area] by meeting other people and improving wellness at the same time.’”

Keith Krigger, an IH employee who attended the inaugural meeting, was happy to see the varied audience it seemed to attract, and was interested in how it will evolve to address different issues.

“I definitely liked the age [range] of the crowd,” Krigger said. “I’d like to see them expound on how [wellness] can help transition throughout your career as you reach different levels. And how does the overall health picture look for a seasoned person when they are ready to transition [into retirement].” 

Happiness, I think, is being proud of your efforts and what you’re doing, and how you share those efforts with other people.Keith Krigger

Fontana said the program helps answer those questions. 

“Each topic that we’re going to address will vary month to month. You can jump in at any time and still experience the benefit of the program depending on what you’re interested in and where you are in your life and career,” Fontana said.

In the meantime, Ward said, they intend to solicit topic recommendations from participants and senior leaders to find the most effective intersections of value in different topics.

“If people have suggestions, we want them,” Ward said. “I want to make sure employees are getting what they want, but I also want to bring value to their teams from a leadership perspective.”

IH Deputy Director Tina Piotrowski, the facilitator for the upcoming coaching-focused session, said she appreciated the efforts of Ward and the CIT.

“It’s a great program,” Piotrowski said. “If we can find ways like this to address workforce wellness and resilience while addressing concerns from the [Climate Culture] survey like teambuilding and networking – it’s a win all around.”

Fontana agrees.

“I think this time around, the [Climate Culture Survey] results are going to be a lot more positive,” Fontana said. “If you’ve attended this program, you can say: ‘Not only do I feel like I’m a part of something, but I feel like I’ve contributed and I feel like I’ve learned something.’”

The 2020 DLA Climate Culture Survey opens March 17.