Associate Dean and Fackler Director University of Florida Gainesville, Florida
Background: The future of employee wellness initiatives is bright as more corporate and academic employers recognize that investing in a healthy workforce is money well spent. The University of Florida Libraries recently adopted a new strategic direction aimed at improving the wellness of its employees, users, and communities. To support this direction, a Library Wellness Committee (LWC) was created. While the LWC was in its formative stages, a College of Health and Human Performance (CHHP) faculty member approached a library administrator asking if the library would be willing to serve as a real-world example for her Worksite Health Promotion (WHP) course.
Description: An Associate Dean of the Libraries and a Co-chair of the LWC met with the WHP course instructor to discuss the possibilities and agreed to the following project. According to the plan, the WHP students would assess the wellness needs of our employees by two different methods, environmental scan and electronic survey. For the former, ten student teams were assigned a different library site to visit and assess the availability of healthy food options, space for offering wellness programs, etc. For the latter, students are in the process of creating an anonymous survey to be distributed to library employees electronically after approval from the human resources department of the Libraries and the LWC. All of the resulting data will be shared with the LWC to serve as a baseline assessment and inform their future program planning.
Conclusion: The course collaboration has been a productive, mutually beneficial way to engage with students and faculty. Beyond the obvious advantage to the students of the opportunity to learn through practical application of the subject matter, the libraries also benefited. It enabled us to draw on: the instructor’s depth of knowledge regarding worksite health promotion, the students’ time and effort in performing the assessments, and an unbiased outsiders’ perspective of our employees’ wellness needs, We plan to extend the partnership into next semester, allowing the incoming class to analyze the data, develop wellness programming recommendations and present them to the LWC.