After months of holiday treats and cups of cheer, many of us find ourselves setting ambitious health goals for the year ahead. A few might even see those goals survive until February.
Caroline Kahnk makes a living helping colleagues keep their resolutions and enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. With over ten years of wellness leadership experience and a master’s in health promotion management, Kahnk is well-suited for her role as Wellness Coordinator at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE).
“I love helping people,” Kahnk said. “I love guiding this program that helps my friends live healthier and happier.” BCBSNE’s employees have 24/7 access to a fitness center at the company’s Aksarben Village headquarters, adjacent to Omaha’s Keystone Trail. Lockers and showers help Team Blue fit exercise into their workday.
Since the pandemic, Kahnk has flexed the program to keep up with BCBSNE’s hybrid workforce. “We want to meet our team wherever they are,” Kahnk explained. Two digital platforms, Wellbeats and Vitality, offer a library of guided workouts and a system for tracking activity. Recognizing the business case for employee health, BCBSNE offers cash rewards to employees who reach certain Vitality point thresholds.
Kahnk offers pointers for companies who want to promote a healthy team but can’t provide a full Fitness Center experience or workers who don’t have a say in employers’ health programs. “Obviously, not every organization can make room for on-site treadmills and showers,” Kahnk said, “but they can partner with the gym down the road to give employees access.”
Leaders can foster health through daily interactions. Managers could encourage their team to flex wellness time into their day. For example, a busy parent’s only opportunity for exercise might be midmorning. “Maybe you encourage that person to block their calendar for a jog before lunch,” Kahnk said. “You seemingly lose a half-hour of productivity, but in reality, the benefits the company gets back are so much greater.”
Groups with BCBSNE insurance have access to company experts for free consultations and support in creating their own customized wellness programs. Countless studies confirm what common sense knows: Even small changes go a long way toward clearer minds and sharper focus, fewer sick days and better work, higher morale and increased employee retention.
And while fitness centers can be attractive employee perks, BCBSNE is clear about the purpose behind its program. “We believe in ‘walking the walk,’” Kahnk said. “We want to be a force for good in this state and help every Nebraskan live healthier and happier—to have more good years. That starts with us as an employer supporting healthy habits among our team. Then they carry the mission to our neighbors across the state.”
Vitality Health is an independent company providing workplace wellness services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. Wellbeats™ provides virtual fitness training for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
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