Employee Wellness Program Hits Maui County, Hawaii

by: Nichole Gunn April 6, 2011

The majority of businesses and municipalities are taking a close look at wellness programs as a means of creating a healthy workforce, and Maui County, Hawaii is one of them.

The Lahaina News reports that local officials of Maui County initiated a wellness program to address the lack of healthy activity among its employees. The program’s goal is to collectively have workers lose 2,000 pounds within six months.

County managing director, Keith Regan, came up with the program’s idea, and he and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa unveiled the program’s strategy on February 1st, during a press conference.

Explaining his motivation, Regan told the News, “Weight loss incentives in the workplace can help, as this is where most adults typically spend half or more of their waking hours."

Features of the employee wellness program include motivating employees to eat healthier and getting them to increase their physical activity level. It also features bi-weekly weigh-ins and seminars in conveniently located spots throughout the county. Another part of the program’s design is to divide the employees into teams of six; the team members will provide each other with motivation to reach their objective.

County communications director Rod Antone told the paper, "Mayor Arakawa and Managing Director Regan wanted to implement a weight loss challenge that would engage our employees in thinking about positive lifestyle change."

Along with the health aspect incentive, participants who reach the greatest weight loss and the greatest percentage of body weight loss will be given additional non-cash rewards. One of the rewards is a ‘healthy lunch’ with Regan and Arakawa.

Leading by example, Regan proved that changing an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to weight loss and an improvement in wellness. The News stated that upon leaving his county position in 2007, Regan was considered obese, at over 200 pounds. Working toward increasing his physical activity and eating healthy, he has lost over 30 pounds since then, which in turn led to a decrease in his blood pressure. Paying attention to health and wellness does pay off and Regan wants Maui County employees to see these benefits.

According to the North Bay Business Journal, the importance and benefits of wellness programs is steadily increasing in popularity among municipalities. With the aide of federal subsidies, northern California is jumping on the employee wellness strategy bandwagon, as is the Sonoma County Public Health Department.