Colorado Workplace Warrior: Lili Tenney

Colorado’s Workplace Warrior

Creating a healthy work environment is easier said than done, but with experts like Lili Tenney, creating the right workspace for you doesn’t have to be a daunting task. As the Deputy Director of the Center for Health, Work and Environment  and an instructor at the University of Colorado School of Public Health, Lili’s passion is promoting healthy workplaces and sustainable business strategies that improve overall well being. So sit back in your ergonomic chair or stability ball and take some pointers the pro.

1. What does it mean to have a “healthy” workplace?

A healthy workplace establishes practices and policies that promote employee health, safety and well-being. It’s an office, a construction company or a restaurant that does everything it can to make sure workers don’t suffer injuries or illness on the job. It’s It’s a place that prioritizes work-life balance with benefits like paid time off. It defines wellness holistically, address everything from employee safety to stress. There’s no one size fits all but we know it when we see it.

Lilianna_Option2.jpg2. What’s the one piece of advice you would give Coloradans to improve their workplace experience?

Ask your employees what they need and what they want. A lot of employers have good intentions when it comes to making their workplace healthier but miss the mark because they haven’t asked their employees what they would like. Simply understanding employees’ challenge and passions can help organizations allocate resources strategically and engage their workers in health and safety programs.

3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about having a successful workplace?

Leadership needs to walk the walk. If you have great benefits like wellness activities, management should be involved and lead by example. Business leaders don’t just need to talk about why health is important, they need to really live it. That means stopping to eat a healthy lunch as well as making sure meetings and conferences have healthy food options. It means taking vacations and not sending emails on the weekend that can wait. It also means checking in with employees on a regular basis to see how they’re managing work demands and making sure they’re taking time to care for their own health and well being. It’s those little things that make a huge difference in the lives of employees.

4. Why is having a healthy workplace so important?

We have 2.5 million working adults in Colorado. Most of them spend the majority of their time at work. With rising rates of chronic diseases and more sedentary jobs, creating healthy workplaces is not only important, it’s a priority. Businesses can influence the health of employees, their families, and their communities. Healthy workplaces become learning laboratories. When employees go home, they bring new information to their families about eating healthy or being active. On the business side, it becomes a competitive advantage. Healthy businesses see better employee recruitment and retention, better job satisfaction and businesses are well suited to not only benefit from that but also help improve the health of our population overall.

5. What one tool or resource would you recommend to help Coloradans to improve the health of their workplaces?

Health Links , a nonprofit at the Center for Health, Work & Environment in the Colorado School of Public Health, is a wonderful resource. The program helps employers evaluate and improve their health and safety practices. We work with organizations to assess their policies and programs, offer recommendations for improvement in one-on-one advising sessions, and certify qualified businesses as Health Links Healthy Businesses. Health Links also connects employers to a supportive network of other local businesses working to make their organizations healthier.

Author: Stephanie Sample

November 18, 2016