Employee Wellness

Cities can reduce the burden of employee healthcare costs by helping their employees overcome obesity and overweight—the primary contributors to preventable chronic diseases that account for more than 75% of health care expenditures. Policy and programs to promote employee health are described in the Campaign's factsheet Be a City with a Healthy Workforce.


Employee Wellness Policies

Some cities have passed resolutions requiring a focus on employee wellness. Others have established Wellness Committees that assess the nutrition and physical activity environment within the workplace, survey employees about their needs and interests, implement programs and recommend policy changes.


Examples of City Policies
                                                          Through an executive order, the Mayor of San Francisco mandated all city departments to incorporate strategies for enhancing employee wellness into departmental mission and values statements and to implement workplace wellness policies and programs. Mountain View’s wellness program was developed by a 19 member wellness committee and implemented across all city departments. The program focuses on tobacco use, physical activity, nutrition and mental health. Sick time is used as a monitoring tool.                                                                                           


California Fit Business Toolkit
Online toolkit with guidelines for starting a wellness committee, conducting an assessment of workplace physical activity and nutrition environments, and implementing policies and programs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention— Work@Health®
Work@Health® is an employer-based training program. The ultimate aim of the program is to improve the organizational health of participating employers and certified trainers, with an emphasis on strategies to reduce chronic disease and injury risk to employees and an eye to improving overall worker productivity.A free, web-based program that helps employers calculate how much obesity costs their company and how much the company could save by implementing an obesity prevention program in the workplace. It also provides guidelines for adopting effective policies and creating programs



Include Health Breaks During the Work Day

Cities are building health breaks or healthy behaviors into the work day through incorporating 10-minute physical activity breaks or stretch breaks, encouraging taking the stairs, and collaborating on stress management and wellness workshops.


Photo by Reed Hutchinson
Photo by Reed Hutchinson
Examples of City Policies

The City of Chino’s award-winning stairwell program includes a local art exhibit in city stairwells to heighten their aesthetics and a competition regarding stair use with low-cost and donated prizes.

Orange County’s Public Health Department adopted the UCLA Lift Off! program, giving employees 10 minutes of paid time daily to participate if they choose.

The San Francisco Public Works Department maintains an award-winning program of stretching for general services employees at their work sites each morning.
The City of Paradise offers the CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Project) to its employees.

The City of Thousand Oaks partnered with local health care providers to offer free lunchtime classes and campaigns on specific health topics.



UCLA School of Public Health. Instant Recess!

Two documents describing the importance of movement and Instant Recess!

  1. Instant Recess!  Moving America 10-minutes at a time 
  2. Toney Yancey - Instant Recess! 


American Cancer Society Workplace Solutions, Building a Healthy Workplace, has a brochure for businesses about partnering with the ACS to improve the workplace environment and help workers practice healthy behaviors.

The American Heart Association---Start! Program focuses on walking and nutrition for fitness and heart health.



Institute Healthy Snack Choices

Foods consumed from vending machines, through concessions, in meetings and at other public food-service establishments are often higher in calories, fat, sugar and salt than are foods prepared at home. Making healthy food available at work is one way to address obesity and overweight by enabling employees to eat a healthy diet.


Photo by Tim Wagner for HEAC
Examples of City Policies

Brentwood’s City Council adopted a wellness policy whose nutritional guidelines ensure that staff and residents have healthy choices among items sold at public facilities.

The City of San Leandro’s Recreation and Human Services Department established a wellness policy that sets nutritional guidelines for meals and snacks at its youth and senior programs. Recommended snacks include fresh fruits and vegetables; nuts and dried fruits; multi-grain breads, tortillas and crackers; and low-fat and no-sugar spreads.

The City of San Jose’s vending policy for libraries requires 100% of items to meet State standards for school vending. Machines located in other city-owned facilities are required to have at least 50% of their items meet the State standards.

The City of Baldwin Park adopted a policy for vending machines in its youth center, then extended the policy to cover machines in all city facilities.

The City of Chula Vista has vending policies that require all machines to meet the standards of SB 12, the school vending and snack nutritional


The Bay Area Physical Activity and Nutrition Collaborative BANPAC’s online toolkit guides cities and counties to establish a vending machine policy. Includes vending machine surveys, policy guidelines, healthy vendors, signage.

The National Prevention & Legal Assistance Network has a model policy for municipal vending machines



Institute Healthy Meetings


Photo by Judy Rabbani
Photo by Judy Rabbani
A healthy meeting policy that provides guidelines for food and beverages and prescribes activity breaks for longer meetings can help employees stay alert, focused and healthy. The University of California has an excellent online guide to healthy meetings and events.

In addition, California Science in the Public Interest's National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity offers a Healthy Meeting Toolkit which is another exceptional guide to creating a culture of healthy food and physical activity.





Improve Breastfeeding Accommodations for Employees

Because breastfed babies have less illness, support for breastfeeding mothers results in reduced employee absenteeism to care for ill children, along with improved employee productivity and higher morale. Local breastfeeding policies can enhance state-mandated accommodations so that mothers are more supported to pump their milk at work.


Photo by California WIC Association
Examples of City Policies

The Cities of Baldwin Park and Chula Vista adopted policies that include educating managers about lactation accommodation and informing employees about the city’s lactation accommodation policies before and after maternity leave.

The City of Walnut Creek allows breastfeeding mothers a flexible schedule to pump their milk during the day.




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