Wellness in the Workplace

October 1, 2019

Faculty from the College of Community Health Sciences presented in September at the American Heart Association’s Worksite Wellness Summit held at The University of Alabama.

Suzanne Henson, assistant professor of family, internal, and rural medicine and a registered dietitian at University Medical Center, which is operated by CCHS, provided an overview of UA’s Better Bites program. The five-session nutrition program for faculty and staff is offered by WellBAMA, UA’s signature wellness program, and taught by Henson.

Better Bites guides UA employees through ways to change their food choices to improve their health “one bite at a time.” Employees learn to make smart choices in the grocery store and to try quick-fix meals and filling snacks. They learn how food fuels the body, how to recognize triggers for over-eating and unplanned eating, the importance of physical activity – and they participate with Henson in a grocery store tour.

She said when putting the program together, organizers learned what employees needed. “What we found was that they need to know what to eat, and how to put food together.”

Dr. Robert McKinney, assistant professor and director of UMC’s Office of Case Management and Social Work, explained ways to resolve interpersonal conflict in the workplace.

“Is conflict bad? Depends on how it’s managed,” he said. “If there’s a conflict, and if you’ve resolved it in a timely and appropriate manner, you’ve improved the quality of the organization. So, it’s not always bad.”

McKinney outlined steps to manage conflict.

“First, listen for understanding. Let all parties share their stories. Usually the truth is somewhere in between.”

Next, pause and take a breath.

Third, ask for clarification. “That way you’re not shutting them down but honoring them and what they have to say.”

Respond with empathy and search for hidden areas of conflict. “Is this a personal issue? Do these employees have other connections that are part of the problem?”

Finally, collaborate on an action plan. “Find ways to include options that reflect people’s opinions. Find ways to comprise.”